Is Customer Service Really a Revenue Strategy?

By Rick McPartlin

Make a list of every company you know that would say “we don’t care about customer service, it’s just not a focus of our business.”

Now, on that list, circle the companies (if there are any) that you believe will still be in business in two years.

Taking great care of customers and exceeding their expectations is an element, or more accurately a REQUIREMENT, of any strategy. But it is NOT a revenue strategy.

Now, make a second list, of all the companies that don’t deliver good customer service that you look forward to working with.

If there are any companies on that list, circle the ones you believe will still be in business in two years.

Now look at this list:

  • Apple
  • BMW
  • Nordstrom
  • Ritz Carlton
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Disney
  • Amazon

Add to this list your favorite:

  • Chinese sestaurant
  • Barber or beauty shop
  • Place to get your car repaired

Now, circle the companies on this list you believe will still be in business in two years.

Every one of the companies on this list has GREAT customer service, but they don’t get paid for customer service. They get paid for their total value to the market, of which customer service is just one element.

Building a “Revenue Generation” strategy requires work and discipline. It requires a team to have tough conversations and make hard decisions on these five key parts of a revenue strategy:

  1. What is your brand promise (the experience every client, partner and staff member has with your brand)?
  2. What is the problem you solve for your client that NO ONE ELSE solves?
  3. What is the niche or niches you will dominate?
  4. What is the “Ideal Client” for you in each niche?
  5. What is the offer or offers you will use to dominate the niche(s)?

Answer these five questions for your brand, and then do the same for each offer that’s part of your revenue strategy. Customer Service will always make your strategy better, but by itself, it does not make a strategy.

Customer Service is too often a crutch. For to many companies customer service is about making the customer happy. When used this way, customer service takes less planning than a real revenue strategy, which, if done correctly, would eliminate much of this type of customer service effort. A “make the customer happy” emphasis in Customer Service is usually a result of selling the wrong buyer the wrong stuff and needing to “fix it” later.

We need to get clear about the difference between Customer Service and Customer Support. Customer Support is an intentional part of the complete offer. It includes elements like taking the luggage to the room, a lifetime oil change, tracking a package, etc.

In a revenue strategy, supporting your customers (Customer Support) is a critical and intentional part of your market-dominating game plan.

Customer Service should be the part of Customer Support that addresses those situations outside of what is predictable, and these situations need to be addressed to maintain the integrity of the brand promise.

Customer Service is an important customer touch point for demonstrating the brand promise and expanding your knowledge of the customer and their business. Customer Service should deepen customer bonds and continually redefine the offer based on those learnings. This touch point will clarify the brand and the offer by saying yes or more importantly NO at the right time for the right reason — thereby telling the world who you are and what you stand for. It is your chance to demonstrate integrity.

The true role of Customer Service is a tactical element of the strategy for the brand and for each market offer in order to get the right experience for the “Ideal Customer.” Customer Service should not be fixing a problem for the wrong customer or for something that can be cured by improving the engagement process.

Take time up front to design a complete Revenue Strategy that includes Customer Support as an element that enhances your execution and profit. When that’s accomplished, Customer Service becomes one of your customer touch points, in which you and the ideal customer work together to solve today’s problems and to improve your revenue strategy for the future. And that’s the right time to say NO to requests that are out of integrity or not aligned with your brand promise.

Rick McPartlin is the CEO of The Revenue Game and is a revenue generation consultant and Vistage speaker. McPartlin was a Vistage member development chair from 2002 to 2009.
Originally published: Nov 3, 2011

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