Innovation in Customer Service is the New Marketing Strategy and Business Strategy
As the General Manager at Circles, a Sodexo Company, my day-to-day activities are focused on customer-centric responsiveness – not just through marketing but as a core component of how we service our customers through daily operations. We are the convenience touch-point in the service cycle, where our service professionals need to empathize with customers and anticipate or suggest solutions before the customers may realize they have a need. This reasoning is, in part, driven by the same principles of Web browsing or Social Media sharing – where one request leads seamlessly to another. At a strategic level, resolving customer needs seamlessly is our value proposition, our offering and our promise.
We are not alone in this new way of viewing the customer. Innovation is not necessarily focused on new product development, but rather in anticipating the customers’ needs and delivering product or service in such a way that customers are appreciative and willing to pay more at point-of-purchase for the convenience and consideration. Take, for example:
- A chilled bottle of water when you’re at Disney
- Handwarmers when you’re at Giants Stadium
- Adding a complimentary car wash to routine oil changes at BMW, or
- Hot pretzels and beer when you’re at a concert.
All of these items are things you could do without, but each adds value to the experience and revenue to distribution channels. And, innovation is continuing with, for example, beer drones being used to deliver beer at concerts without the individual having to leave their seat and go stand in line during the performance. Understanding the needs of customers and establishing distribution channels where product and service are more than relevant creates a moment of essential branding coupled with high profit margins and greater brand appreciation.
An outline of considerations can be seen in this recent article featured in Harvard Business Review, “When Marketing Is Strategy” which includes this diagram of examples that may be used as a starting point.
One of the other core points in this article talks about deciding which market you’ll compete in. There’s no reason why, for example, a vitamin-enriched beverage shouldn’t be re-packaged and marketed to multiple markets: athletes, seniors and toddlers (provided it has FDA approval). The expensive part of the process, the R&D and manufacturing are already done and marketing and sales can be poised to capture greater revenue through advanced customer –centric segmentation, package design and channel distribution. For seniors and toddlers, the channel selected may be through supermarkets, or it may be through the recommendation of medical care providers – adding trust and value that commands greater revenue while avoiding traditional grocery store discounting.
If you want to toss around some ideas on how your company or product can find channels where your customers are truly appreciative, reach out to me on https://www.google.com/+MarlaBace or http://twitter.com/marlabace.