Service = Brand

Ideal customer service. That is the mantra of customer service vendors as they tout their wares. However, is this what companies really want to offer? Or is it good enough customer service where the cost of doing service is balanced with the ability to satisfy and retain a customer. Or is it something else – like providing a customer service experience that parallel’s a company’s business model?

Think about Apple. Their products are high-style and high cost. You would expect their customer service to be in-line with their brand. Customer Service on the customer’s terms – where you can arrange a phone call with an Apple Expert who specializes in your exact question. You can talk with them now or later at your convenience. They’ll even call you. You can email them, or browse their extensive knowledgebase.

Now think about IKEA. Their products are high-style but do it-yourself low cost. You shop at IKEA because you are comfortable with serving yourself – pulling products off shelves, to self-checkout to assembling them yourself. And, IKEA’s service to mirrors their brand. They have exhaustive web self service in a multitude of languages, a chat bot, some email support and limited phone support. You are not disappointed with their lack of white-glove service because you would never expect it from IKEA – it is not their business model.

I quickly mapped out some retailers on a graph of cost vs style. It looks something like this:

cost vs style

Your Walmart shopper is not the same as your IKEA or Nordstrom shopper. They don’t expect to have the same shopping experience, or have the same level of service at each of these stores. Companies need to know what their key value proposition is to their shoppers, and align their service offering with their brand. Not everyone needs to deliver “exceptional customer service.” Thoughts anyone?