Benchmarking your customer service

With the recent 70th anniversary commemorating the outbreak of Second World War and a recent visit to the Cabinet War Rooms, there were some lessons from those dour days that we could all learn in these challenging days of recession. One of the highlights of the Cabinet War Rooms is the Map Room where teams of people constantly updated charts showing not only where Allied Forces were but also those of the enemy. By translating “enemy” into “competitor” in today’s markets it is easy to see the great importance of not only understanding your strengths and weaknesses but vitally those of your competitors.

Although nearly all large organisations around the world now collect and analyse feedback from their customers about the product or service they provide, a significant number do not compare their customers’ experience with what is received from a competitor. In Customer Champions’ own benchmarking survey a significant number of organisations don’t measure any form of satisfaction provided by their competitors. Without this ability to benchmark the customer experience no organisation can really tell either how good orhow bad things are and how competitive your customer service is.

The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.
Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, 1941

In a globally competitive market customers have easy access to not only a company’s marketing but also to how their customers feel about the product they have purchased or the service they have experienced. This means there are really no excuses to not know exactly how customers perceive your service and that of your competitors: benchmarking customer service is not optional, it’s essential.

The illustration below is that of a Customer Value Map that plots all of the key players in the office supplies market place with respect to the quality and the price competitiveness they are perceived to offer their customers. It represents a view of the market purely from the customers’ perspective.

Strategic positioning - relative market position

Understanding your competitive position then at least gives the opportunity to act upon that information. But again looking at the results of Customer Champions customer experience benchmarking survey shows that only about half at best of companies act upon feedback.

One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.
Sir Winston Churchill

Having accepted there may be some areas for improvement in order to improve the competitive customer experience position, the practicality of being able to implement change needs to be addressed. Far too many companies look for very quick, low investment, short term fixes, and then are surprised when the subsequent customer feedback doesn’t reflect any change.

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
Sir Winston Churchill

As with all quality based initiatives the one on improving the customers’ experience is a continuous one. The customer service mentality of the company and its employees has to be that as soon as one aspect is improved they need to find the next challenge. This is not only about fixing problem areas but also maintaining and improving competitive advantage.
Finally, there are tools out there to help organisations overcome these challenges and ensure competitive advantage through an improved customer experience. This can range from Customer Value Management toCustomer Journey Mapping.

Give us the tools and we will finish the job.
Sir Winston Churchill

Take the next step

If you would like to find out more about these tools and how Customer Champions could support your Churchillian efforts please get in touch.

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