Establishment of Customer Service as a Core Business Driver

This is one of 12 Success Criteria found in Tom and Lynn Wilson's book, "Negotiate Anything!" In it, the authors teach businesses how to differentiate themselves through excellent customer service.

"Negotiate Anything!" offers 12 Success Criteria.
There are 12 Success Criteria needed to establish customer service as a core business driver. This article presents Success Criteria No. 1: the establishment of customer service as a core business driver.

All businesses seek to invest time and money in developing a sustainable advantage vs. their competition. Two obvious choices are in product innovation and price. Both require investment in different areas. We’d all love to have our products or service locked up with long-term patents. However, after 30 years of working in consumer products with two world-class companies, this is difficult to nearly impossible to accomplish. There are simply too many smart competitors that can figure out how to design around your intellectual property. Having said that, occasionally companies do develop strong protection.

Another competitive strategy is price. Wal-Mart was built on this foundation from day one. It kept its overhead lower than the competition’s and changed the world’s retail landscape. Unless you’ve built your organization from the ground up with a low-cost strategy, you’re not likely to become low-cost anytime soon. There are many examples of companies that have attempted to compete on price without having a low-cost position and lost. Kmart almost went out of business, and Midwest Airlines ended up on the airline junk heap with Eastern, Pam Am, TWA and others.

Most executives, when seeking competitive advantage, don’t consider customer service. Maybe because it’s not glamorous (“Oh, we have to have that, but we try to keep costs down”). Maybe they don’t strongly consider it because they didn’t teach it in business school. We feel customer service will be the next big “discovery” in driving successful, profitable growth. All the leading business school professors and Blue Chip Consultants will claim to have discovered the key to business growth. It will be the next big buzzword, like the overused “consumer insights” and “analytics.”

Business goes through phases, trends and fashion, just like clothing styles and music. For example, at one point it was fashionable to be vertically integrated. If you made cars, you owned ore mines. If you made paper, you owned forests. Today, the opposite is true. Today’s fashion statement: If it isn’t a core competency, it’s outsourced. The pendulum will swing back, and organizations will discover customer service as a way to differentiate their brands.

The great thing about developing customer service as a differentiator is that it can’t be created overnight. You might ask why that is great. Because it’s somewhat of a subversive competitive weapon. For example, if you drop your price, your competition hears about it, usually from your customers, and they can follow you almost immediately. With customer service as a differentiator, by the time it begins having a noticeable impact on your business results, it would take your competitors years to catch up. As a strategy, it’s sustainable and ownable. It’s an equity builder. And it’s measurable, which we’ll discuss later.

What makes it great also makes it problematic. Today’s business executives seem to have Attention Deficit Disorder. This is brought on by the need to create instant results so they can demonstrate action at the next board meeting. That makes it challenging to “sell” a strategy that may need a couple of years to begin showing results. On the flip side, your competition would be faced with a similar uphill battle. If you capture the high ground before they do, it’s less likely they will want to simply copy you.

In summary, until an organization decides to seriously establish customer service as a core business driver, it will be viewed primarily a cost center. In this regard, investments are designed to reduce costs, not establish a unique and highly differentiated customer service platform.

Extracted from “Negotiate Anything!” © 2010 Tom and Lynn Wilson. For a complimentary copy, go to and enter code YS48J at checkout.  If you take advantage of this valuable offer and feel the book provides real value, please provide a review on Amazon of at least 4 stars.

“Negotiate Anything!” authors Tom and Lynn Wilson have collaborated to share 30 years of customer service learning, to benefit consumers and business leaders alike. They are co-founders of The CareGiver Partnership, a national direct-to-consumer retailer and caregiver resource providing support, convenience and old-fashioned customer service to those caring for a loved one. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 in Neenah, Wis. Visit to learn more.


Post a Comment