Services get you closer to your customers
Article

Services get you closer to your customers

Sanne Pelgröm
  • Sanne Pelgröm
  • Service Designer
Take aways
  • Services meeting customers’ needs and expectations are highly valued.
  • Meeting customers’ basic needs already sets businesses apart from competition.
  • Personalised services require organisations to flexibly deal with customers.

Customers judge an organisation on overall experience, not just product features. On top of meeting basic expectations of the majority of your customers, you will stand apart from your competition by building a customer-facing system that is able to flexibly respond to customers’ personal needs.

Many organisations have not invested enough in perfecting services. And yet, good services help you get closer to customers, make them feel personal, inspire trust and loyalty.

Key growth driver: good services

Traditional product-centric thinking alone is no longer sufficient to maintain or even grow a business. Customers need personalised help with their problems, not standardised solutions. They judge an organisation on overall experience, not just product features. Organisations which understand what customers expect of a good service are able to build better, more lasting relationships with their customers.

Off-the-shelf is not good enough

Service sectors such as healthcare, transport, finance, telecoms and energy have been industrialised, but somehow forgotten that services are the core of their businesses. Let’s face it: customers never see an energy bill or a savings account in the same light as a BMW or a smartphone.

Think of financial services. Whether it is a mortgage plan or an insurance policy, products are mass-produced and standardised, but the experience for customers is personal. They are spending a lifetime of savings to buy a house or thinking about their health and earnings risks in a distant future. Too often, financial service providers overlook the experience aspect of customers, and focus on product features alone. The gap between the businesses and customers can be huge.

Small things like providing just a bit more time or attention to a customers can significantly improve the overall service experience.

When mass-produced becomes personal

Even mass customisation of products goes only skin deep. As we see in many sectors, good services are where mass-produced products become a personal experience.

Transport companies build routes and plan schedules, but customers use services to complete their journeys. Telecommunication companies set tariffs and construct networks, but customers access services to make calls and send messages. Even healthcare providers standardise medical procedures, but patients need services that take care of their specific conditions.

Customers remember

Customers take bad experiences personally, and are slow to forgive. However, they also give organisations more credit for consistently good experiences, than for great products alone. Therefore, organisations need to step up their focus on the personal aspects of services, as customers remember both good and bad interactions with you.

Services industries make up 70-80% of developed economies

Before getting personal

While we are talking about personalised services and individual experiences, customers of an organisation often share more similarities than differences. By understanding the general needs and wants of customers, an organisation should first set up services that meet the basic expectations of the majority of customers. Many organisations are struggling even at this basic level, therefore, the ones that manage to do this can easily outperform their competitors.

Responsive is efficient

Services responsive to customers’ personal needs are ultimately more efficient. This does not mean mass personalisation of services, but building in flexibility in how customer-facing agents and systems interact with and respond to customers. Non-responsive systems are likely to lose customers, and even face higher costs on preventable incidents.

Play to your strength

Service industries should play to their strength, which is personal relationships with customers for the long haul. Spend less time on marketing new mortgage rates or train tickets, and more time on working out how to be of assistance to customers. The point is to get services right, seeing from customers’ perspective in order to create consistent, helpful and personal experiences, thereby setting yourself apart from competitors.