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BRAND SERVE
FIRST SERVE THEN DESERVE

BY JAGDEEP KAPOOR

When people think about customer service, their mind usually goes to the service department which handles customer complaints or provides after sale service. This is a very narrow view and could actually reduce the impact of total customer service.

Total Customer Service.

What is total customer service? Well, to my mind, total customer service includes service before the sale, during sale process, service after the sale and continued life long service if one desires a life long customer. The missing parts are before the sale and during the sale components of customer service as well as the life long aspect of service. Most people only after focus on only sales service which is necessary but not sufficient in the concept of total customer service.

I would like to analyse the various components of total customer service which in the long term increase customer relationship, provide benefit and .value to the customer, thereby, increasing the brand value in the minds and hearts of consumers. Infact, the concept of total customer service would apply to all industries including FMCG, Durables, IT, Industrial and the service industry.

Reliability

One of the first few things the customer desires from a brand is reliability. This could be in the form of an airline or a hotel keeping its commitments or an air conditioner or computer being delivered as promised. Reliability is not about speed but about making a promise and keeping the promise. This portion of customer service happens before or during the sale. Therefore, over promising could lead to an image of being unreliable should the delivery not take place.

Responsiveness

Consumers expect a quick response to the queries as well as require a certain degree of accuracy but within a time frame. One of the worst cases of customer service before, or during or after sales process is of not returning customers' calls. This could harm the brand image.

Assurance

In the case of assurance, the customer feels secure and cosy if he is dealing with an organisation or brand which is able to provide consistent quality of product and service and whose integrity is high. A brand should always aspire to provide high assurance to its customers.

Empathy

Putting yourself in the customers shoes is what an ideal marketer should be doing so that he can understand and appreciate the needs of the customer and cater to them well.

Thus I would strongly recommend a total customer approach before, during and after the sales process focussing on elements like total customer service, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy so that the brand marketers is able to develop a mutually beneficial life long relationship with the customer

Therefore total customer service is a cutting edge but must be implemented through standards,

CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS MUST BE SET
CUSTOMERS SERVICE STANDARDS MUST BE MET


Any performance by a company, product or service depends on the expectations of the customer being defined as well as the delivery being up to the expectations so that there is satisfaction and delight. Hence, my strong recommendation is

"CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS"
MUST BE SET
MUST BE MET


This is very, very important because the expectations of the customers are growing by leaps and bounds. Indian customers have become world class customers who want world class products and world class services.

Companies which do not respect the Indian customer are rejected by the customer. Hence it is important to make sure that the customer service standards are set and met.

There are two types of Customer Service Standards. One type is what I call the Internal Customer Service Standard. The second type is what I call the External Customer Service Standard. Both these are important to ensure customer satisfaction. The External Customer Service Standard is visible to the External Customer and is a commitment and promise that the company makes to its External Customers.

The Internal Customer Standard is an internal working norm which has to be completed so that the External Standard can be met.

As an illustration, if in a restaurant there is an External Customer Service Standard set that from the time of placing your order, your meal will be served in 20 minutes, this is the setting of an External Customer Standard. However, to meet this External Customer Standard, it is important that there be setting up of the Internal Customer Service standard to the kitchen that the food should be prepared and ready within 15 minutes, so that the 20 minutes External Customer Service Standard is met taking into account 5 minutes of serving time.

The reason why meticulous planning is needed for Customer Service Standard to be set and Customers Service Standards to be met is that if there are no specified or measurable norms, there is bound to be a delay or error leading to customer dissatisfaction .

In an another illustration one would notice that after buying a computer or even an air-conditioner the delivery is made on time but. installation is not on time. This is the reflection that External and Internal Customer Service Standards for installation were not set and therefore not met.

Customer Service Standards are reflections of the soul of any brand or company. If you want to give regular and sustained delight to customers make sure you follow my Brand Mantra.

CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS MUST BE SET !
CUSTOMERS SERVICE STANDARDS MUST BE MET !


Therefore we need to grow through good customer service. My mother has taught me "FIRST DESERVE, THEN DESIRE". Taking my mothers advice further, my brand mantra is "FIRST SERVE, THEN DESERVE".

Copyright 2005, All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
No part of this document may be modified, reproduced, stored, deleted or introduced in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (Electronic, Mechanical, Photocopying, Recording or Otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of the document.

The author is Jagdeep Kapoor, Brand Guru and Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy.
Tel: (022) 28477700/7701 (022) 28470214/15
Fax:022 28477699
E-mail : jkapoor@samsika.com