10 Principles of Great Customer Service
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Customer strategy is pivotal in determining a company's success and longevity. It goes beyond offering high-quality products or services, but more significantly, aligning customers' preferences to engage and satisfy them.
The ten principles of customer service have become a pivotal guide for businesses of all sizes and fields to provide excellent service. These principles result from comprehensive observation, surveys, and interviews with global industry players.
From mastering the art of the possible to matching culture with your customer strategy, we've prepared an explanation of each principle. Let's begin by taking a look at the illustration below.
The 10 principles of customer strategy by PwC Publication
Principle #1: Master the Art of Possible
Incorporating innovation is essential for your business to remain competitive and responsive to customer needs. Embracing the art of the possible entails a proactive stance toward understanding and meeting customer demands through creative solutions.
To illustrate this principle, let's look at the SaaS industry offering sales tools. These tools foresaw the potential of automation, AI, and cloud-based solutions, allowing sales reps to streamline the customer acquisition process effectively.
This is not only true in the SaaS industry, but also in other industries such as the steel agricultural building industry, F&B, fashion, and even automotive.
Principle #2: Know your customers at a granular level
The second principle emphasizes the importance of transcending conventional quantitative segmentation. Today, your brand should aim to understand your audience more deeply and thoughtfully.
Implementing more conversational methodologies can help your business to understand customers at a granular level. In addition, mapping the customer journey enables you to track their activity on your marketing channel.
For example, if you use social media for customer service, you can track audience behavior on the platform. You can monitor key metrics to discover what type of social media content resonates best with them.
Principle #3: Link your company's customer strategy to its overall identity
It's essential to set your company apart from competitors. To do so, infusing your customer strategy with your brand's identity can help your brand be more distinguishable.
However, making your customer strategy work with your company's value proposition is not just coordinating tasks like marketing and sales. It's about making sure that the emotions you want your customers to feel match what your strategy is all about.
It requires you to handle different points of contact with customers, including pricing. Brands that set their prices high are connected with exclusivity and premium quality. Take a look at Apple as an example.
Not only do they offer sophisticated devices, but they also design their website sleek and elegant. Their store also looks modern and fancy. They keep their prices high and profits big, making people think their products are exclusive.
Principle #4: Target customers with whom you have the right to win
With a distinguishable identity, your brand doesn't need to try to succeed in every market. Instead, focus on markets where you've developed a strong presence compared to your competitors.
However, it's still possible for your brand to target new audience demographics and explore new marketing channels. But ensure you apply the same strengths that helped you succeed with your main customers. This way, you can keep building on what makes you strong while expanding into new areas.
Principle #5: Treat your customers as assets that will grow in value
Customers are the biggest asset of your company. That's why you need to keep nurturing them with valuable offers and content. Customers who feel engaged and well-served will choose your brand over competitors.
But then, the biggest question is: How? In fact, building strong relationships with customers takes time and planning. This means that their experience with your brand shouldn't end after the purchasing decision.
You must think beyond looking at how much money you'll make from getting new customers. Change your strategy by considering how and why customers buy things from you. So you'll discover their preferences, needs, and pain points.
Principle #6: Leverage your ecosystem
In a nutshell, the sixth principle means making the most of the network of people and organizations your company is connected to. Your network can be suppliers, distributors, retailers, influencers, other companies you work with, and government agencies.
You can use your network to learn more about what your customers are interested in at a deeper level. This might give you ideas for new products, services, or ways to grow your business.
Moreover, an example of this strategy is creating "brand ambassadors." These are people who like your brand and products. They're so enthusiastic that they share their positive experiences with others, essentially promoting your brand without being paid.
Principle #7: Ensure a seamless omnichannel experience
Creating a consistent omnichannel experience is crucial, ensuring a unified feel across all customer interactions, whether in-person, online, via phone, or mobile. Successful companies harmonize these channels based on customer expectations, brand identity, value, and cost-effectiveness.
They evaluate each channel's complete costs and benefits to offer customers a seamless experience, making app shopping as comfortable as in-person transactions. Let's take a look at IKEA as an example.
IKEA incorporates cutting-edge technologies like video and virtual reality. Customers can visualize and experience IKEA's offerings in an immersive manner, blurring the lines between physical and digital shopping.
Principle #8: Excel at delivery
Effective physical product and service delivery is vital for customer satisfaction. In this case, Amazon's delivery innovations impact and influence all businesses, regardless of direct competition.
Their strategies involve:
- On-demand delivery personnel.
- Drone experimentation.
- Partnerships like utilizing the U.S. Postal Service for Sunday deliveries.
Nowadays, customers anticipate Amazon-like efficiency from every company. While Amazon's advanced supply chain is unique, some aspects are adaptable to other businesses.
Tailoring delivery options based on profit, brand, and customer value aligns with technological advancements. Leveraging data and analytics, including metrics like customer experience, cost, and productivity, ensures quality delivery without compromising profitability.
Principle #9: Reorganise around the customer
Ensure your organization is customer-centric and designed to deliver excellent experiences. After mastering key principles, realign your structure to match your strategy goals, brand identity and strengths, and customers' preferences.
To do so, you can adapt decision-making rights, roles, teams, incentives, and practices to suit your customer groups and value proposition. In essence, reshape your organizational structure to cater to your preferred customers and objectives.
Therefore, recruiting and retaining suitable talent, including those who grasp technology and customer experience, is crucial. Ensure your team oversees every aspect of the organization that impacts the customer experience.
Principle #10: Match your culture with customer strategy
A relevant culture is crucial for customer-focused companies. For example, overcoming cultural barriers, like experienced managers distrusting younger employees' digital tools, can happen in a tech-driven age. The workforce might doubt the changes you introduce.
To address this, concentrate on key behaviors that genuinely serve customers well. This could involve swiftly solving a problem through cross-functional teams, declining deals with unsuitable customers, or centralizing customer strategy in discussions.
The ten customer service principles form a guiding compass for businesses aiming to create exceptional experiences. Adopting the art of the possible, understanding customers deeply, aligning strategies with identity, and honing delivery mechanisms are just a few steps toward success.
By fostering an environment that cultivates innovation, leverages ecosystems, and maintains consistency across channels, companies can position themselves for sustained growth. Each principle drives an approach that resonates with customers, forges lasting connections, and ultimately drives business excellence.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
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