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When is Customer Service Still Considered a Differentiator?

For years companies have been trying to understand what customers want. Then overnight like Mel Gibson they find out and suddenly it’s overwhelming, there are so many customers wanting so many things it’s deafening.

How can we open our ears yet filter out all of the noise to listen to exactly what our customers want?

Everyday your contact center receives hundreds of customer service interactions via different channels and you’re listening and responding to them all but are you following trends and spotting patterns? Are you monitoring your customer service interactions to find the golden nuggets to pinpoint What Customers Want?

Customer Service is not just a service for the customer, it provides an invaluable service for the business too. The difference is that not every business uses the service for themselves. If customer service is used just as a shield it’s of little benefit, let me explain. If your business is a castle and your customer service team are the guards, your customers are constantly attacking (telling you exactly what they want) and the guards are taking daily a battering.

Now consider… what if large chunks of your attacks are caused by a small number of problems? If you could spot and fix the problems you could reduce your attacks, in fact your attackers would become your allies, they would be invited to sit at the table and changes could infiltrate the business. These allies would then go and spread the good word about how proactive your business is. When you monitor your customer service effectively you’re inviting your customers to the table, you’re carrying out a large slice of the consumer research you need.


Customer service is still a differentiator for sure, in a recent poll we asked this very question and the most popular answer with 90% of the votes was “Definitely, excellent customer service always stands out”.


  1. When a customer complains.
  2. When people choosing between competitors.
  3. When there is an increase in price.
  4. When there is uncertainty within the market.
  5. When they are signing a new contract.
  6. When it is something important and they want to reduce risk.
  7. When they are accountable (business decision).
  8. When the product/service is complex.
  9. When the product/service is new.
  10. When a customer first interacts with customer service.
  11. Anytime they interact with customer service.
  12. When they hear from WOM or eWOM about the customer service.

Are there more instances customer service is still a differentiator? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.


When I was considering to buy a laptop I chose the particular store because their offer included all software, anti-virus and insurance in the one-off payment with the promise that if anything happened I could bring it in and they would fix it overnight with no additional charges, it was also a walk in service so booking of an appointment wasn’t required. This left me reassured that if anything went wrong I wouldn’t have to worry about it, they would fix my problem quickly.

Subsequently over 4 years I brought the machine in from time to time when anything was acting up, they dealt with my queries efficiently and I always left satisfied and pleased that I didn’t have to worry about the laptop. They gave expert advice and when machine finally packed in I didn’t consider going elsewhere for a new one. The store prices are more expensive than the average laptop store but I felt I gained massive value from the customer service offering and got great value for money. Their excellent customer service gave me peace of mind and reassurance and that counted for a lot.


Setting expectations for customers is key to managing the customer service needs; when I bought my laptop from the outset they explained how their customer service worked so I understood and they lived up to all the expectations they set out.

If you put a lot of effort into solving customer service through a specific channel ensure that your customer base knows this. In another article on Adding Non-Voice Channels to the Mix the consideration of customers was prominent and outlined 4 different customers and the difference between their preferences and behaviors which highlights that your various customer personas might have different expectations on the level of customer service that is expected from one channel to the next. Different customers want different things and at different times, allow for this and manage their expectations.

Here are a few key customer service areas that expectations must be set and met.

Convenience: Customers today demand availability to solve a range of simple problems be viewing information on the website/app anytime. Ensure they are aware of the convenient channels you do and don’t offer.

Channels: There are appropriate channels for appropriate problems; when a problem requires more detailed handling help your customers easily find the channel they should communicate through.

Smart and easy to use: Customers desperately want you to make their life easier so if something improves the ease of use of customer service from a customer and company perspective implement it. Have your customers expect you to do business smartly, don’t wait for them to go elsewhere because a service is easier to use.

Efficiency: Build a reputation for dealing with problems efficiently and maintain it, according to Smart Customer Service efficiency is much more important than delighting customers.

Personalization: If you are gathering lots of information from your customers use it effectively, send them relevant messages only.

Have you noticed a pattern? Customers don’t want frills, they want problems solved quickly. I’m not surprised… I don’t ever remember contacting customer service to get a warm and fuzzy feeling, I just want my issue resolved. If I get extras great, but they aren’t on my agenda.


98% of a customers’ interaction with your customer service may be routine queries easily solved and 2% might be complex problems. Teach your customers where they can quickly solve the 98% of their routine problems in an easy and convenient way.  For the 2% direct them where to go and make sure when they go you are ready to deal with a complex problem.

But let’s go back to Mel for a minute – what did he learn from his experience, and what can contact centers learn from their customers? He was shocked by how people perceived him, he thought he was doing a fantastic job when he in fact he was on the opposite end of the spectrum. But once he got over the shock he began to embrace the knowledge and used it to his advantage; to improve himself and become more loved.

Once he had the majority convinced he began to listen even harder and spotted real problems and subsequently helped to solve them. When call centers monitor customer service they can really understand how their customers perceive them. They can tackle the major trends emerging and have a chance at becoming loved (although maybe not quite as much a Hollywood heart-throb). If contact centers then dig deep into their customer service interactions by carrying out root cause analysis they are one step closer to understanding customers really want.

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