How Many Customers Did You (re)Win This Year?

Customer service can keep your customers coming back. This is of all times: Good or bad times. In order to win the customer service battle, you must differentiate your services. AT Kearney published a recipe how to implement customer service differentiation. Hans Lodder reports, and comments based on his extensive experience. An health care example demonstrates how.

Customer Differentiation Approach Overview

The good news is: It is relatively simple to differentiate your customer service. The bad news is that it is easy to spend a lot of money without getting anywhere. In my opinion the only successful way to do it right is to make sure that you understand your customer experience, the cost structure of your services, and the organizational impact. Knowing your facts provides you with a solid starting point for customer service improvements.

From Possibilities to Opportunities: The Art of the Customer Touch-points

Look for opportunities from the way your customer experiences his contacts ('touch-points') with your organization. Are you aware of all your customer touch-points? Examples could be by telephone, Internet/email, or walk in. At every touch-point the customer has specific expectations. You should understand exactly what expectations that are per touch-point, and also whether that expectation is met. The outcome of relative customer perception of quality is going to be your positive or negative difference with your competition: Your unlimited cash generator!

Once you know the touch-points and the expectations per touch-point you can start generating ideas regarding what and how to differentiate.

Constraints: Cost Structure and Organizational Impact

Understanding your cost structure adds a financial driver to your differentiation efforts. It is not uncommon to find that you have been investing deeply in customer features that clients really don't care about. So cost structure knowledge can help you balance perceived profits and costs.

Organizational impact is also an important constraint to consider. If you want to provide differentiated customer services then you need to have and control your Key Business Requirements (KBR) for organizational consequences on a specific, and SMART, level. And maybe you can control some organization units, but not likely all of them. You need to have a process in place to make sure that you get what you need from others. The customer would not really care if you succeed in one department, but the service process fails badly at another department. The client will experience it as a complete failure.

Implementation Considerations

Make sure that you exercise a step-wise refinement approach. First the basic and for all customers common experience must be reflected by all customer touch-points. Once that is in place, segment your customer group, and define needs and expectations per touch-point. And your last step should be to expand your customer service differentiation into sub-segments.

An Example: Applying Customer Service Differentiation to Health Care

Let us define some Key Business Requirements for customer service differentiation in the health care industry:

Basic Customer Service Requirements

  • The complete Patient day care process is integrated from start to finish: From making the appointment to invoicing.
  • The process is completed within one visit.
  • If a patient cancels an appointment, it will be tried to reschedule another patient ASAP.

Customer Service Requirements Segmented on Region

  • Patients coming from a long distance get a cup of coffee for free.
  • Patients coming from a long distance get help from a volunteer, who is also available for small talk.
  • Regional patients are called by telephone one week in advance to check whether patient has not forgotten the appointment.

Customer Service Requirements Segmented on Age

  • Patients in access of 70 years old are called one week in advance to check whether patient is not forgotten the appointment.
  • Older patients are offered transportation help.
  • Older patients are offered help at home.

What is your approach to customer service differentiation? What are your successes, and what are your best practices? Share it with the Results2Match Community!

Results2Match has a strong vision on successful health care solutions and a track record on result driven implementations.

This blog is part of a series on strategic planning:

  1. The Everlasting Rise and Downfall of Strategic Planning: Lessons Learned in More than 40 Years! (this blog)
  2. Driving Change: Drive Safely (My Checklist)
  3. "Live Fast, Die Young!"
  4. The Benefits of an Aligned Supply Chain (and How to Realize That...)
  5. How Many Customers Did You (re)Win This Year?

Results2Match has a strong vision on successful business strategies and result driven implementations.

This blog is written by Hans Lodder. Hans is a very experienced change management consultant and interim manager. You can contact Hans through his Results2Match email address.

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