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The Business Forum Journal


Customer Service In Today’s World

By Thomas R. Northup



The importance of customer service is magnified in today’s world. This is true whether your customers are internal or external.

Peter Drucker said, "The world is changing at a rapid pace and only those who understand what those changes mean will be poised to prosper under the new rules."

Social media and the internet have greatly improved our ability to explore, learn and develop opinion.  Customers have no need to rely on providers for information. They now are in control and often have investigated long before they contact you.

Let us look at one of the most basic areas we control; how we view and relate to customers.  We all know stories of weak customer service in retail, telephone service, and corporate sales.  When the economy was booming, we could ignore weak service in our own company.  Yet there has always been a direct relationship between service and profitability.

Customers do not care about us they only care about themselves.  Often we look at customers as revenue sources. More strategically I suggest thinking of customers as assets. In many instances we do not have much control. One asset you have complete control over is your relationship with your customers.

When we strategize we customarily think of what we are good at. That is the wrong focus. Competitive advantage is developed when we identify what customers want and make these needs core competences in our business.

With this mindset we build an emotional connection.  Emotionally engaged customers deliver far superior financial returns than disengaged customers.  Gallup research over the last 10 years finds fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium in terms of profitability and revenue. Disengaged customers deliver a 13% discount.

We often equate giving good service with creating customer satisfaction.  Excellence in customer service is about creating customer loyalty. Knowing the difference between satisfaction and loyalty is the first step in developing customer-focused excellence in your organization.

Building loyalty is about giving memorable service.  Do we want customers’ memories to be positive or negative? When the company does not give customers the help they expect, the need still exists but the customer is now dissatisfied. A satisfied customer may still shop the competition.  A loyal customer says “I am happy with my current relationship.”

The value of a customer you have properly nurtured and developed is a major key to strong competitive advantage. Outstanding leaders build memorable service and loyal customers.

On a personal note:

If this article has made you think about building more effective results, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the state of your business.  Before we start I will ask you to complete three assessments that evaluate your company strategically, in leadership and personal productivity. This is your commitment to a focused high quality interchange.  There is no obligation. We will meet as long as necessary to have an in depth review. My objective is to first build a relationship. If we agree to continue working together, great, if not then my hope is that our discussion will still lead you to constructive change.

 Tom Northup

949-689-4085 Pacific Time

Thomas R. Northup is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and a coach, speaker and author with over 30 years running companies the last 3 as CEO. He now assists managers and executives produce the stretch results they are having trouble reaching. Tom’s work can be explored in his leadership blog, his book, The Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make, and his coming book, Leadership Is Not a Soft Skill. Using his unique experience, Tom gives expert insight and simple to use methods you can use to build a focused, outstanding organization to meet your vision, create sustainable growth and to develop “unfair competitive advantage.” Tom graduated with a BS in Mathematics from Bucknell University and has an MBA from Syracuse University.

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