Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - We don't Believe the Customer Comes First

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I've written about service as a product on this blog. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

The article asks a crucial question, “What would performance as service look like in your organisation?”

I would encourage an organisation to ask itself a second equally as important question, “What would service look like as a product in your organisation?”

Let me explain.

When I studied marketing 15 years ago the professor informed me about the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) and added ‘ and if you feel like it you can add an S for service’.

Since then service has gone from a possible, to a competitive advantage, and from a competitive advantage to a must (although like your article shows some people/organisations are not yet at the ‘must have’ phase).

My question refers to an interesting trend we have observed at this fluid world where products are increasingly becoming services, meaning that services can also be a stand-alone entity and not only an addition to a product. It is no longer there only to complement and increase the value of the product you are trying to sell, it is, in many cases what you could/should be selling (example Amex’ concierge service, and all freemium based product offerings).

This means service can play an increasingly large role to your organisation’s bottom line.

Hence, an organisations need to look at service from two different perspectives.

1. Service as a complementary factor to the product offered, or as a differentiator. In this case performance based service is key. An organisation will get what they assign importance to, what they communicate, what they measure and what they reward. An exceptional case of where the answer to this is service is Waitrose. By clearly communicating the importance of service, and by rewarding people for delivering exceptional service through co-ownership, they send a powerful message of its importance in the delivery of the product, and end up with a competitive advantage through differentiation. Achieving this requires an answer to the question “What would performance as service look like in your organisation?”

2. Service as the actual offer, paid for separately. In this case service becomes core business and necessitates NPD (New Product Development). On a separate note, NPD should maybe be called NSP (New Solutions Development) since we no longer live in a solely physical product world. Service being the core product has implications from an organisational perspective. In this paradigm it becomes a revenue centre and not a cost centre. This will affect its role and importance to senior management, how it is managed, and measured. Achieving this requires an answer to the question “What would service look like as a product in your organisation?”. In other words, what can you develop/create that people will actually pay for?

Moving from a cost centre to a revenue centre may finally give service the strategic importance it deserves, the strategic importance it always deserved!

If organisations won’t, like the aught to, do it for their customers, than maybe they will do it for revenue.

@Veronika - you got it. We're in it for the learning, you and I. My answer to that question is I always do. I make it a point to support businesses that care at every interaction. Why I am modest in my consumption ;-)

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