A few weeks ago my son of 18 months, was admitted to hospital (he is back at home now, safe and sound). When I was visiting him, I regularly passed by the hospital chapel. One day my attention was caught by a poster of the “Publisher wall papers” association, with the intriguing text: “God does not fulfill all our wishes. He does keep all his promises.”*. Now that’s a clear service concept for God, I thought to myself. Well-formulated, precise, concise and intelligent communication. Wishes addressed to God by believers in a hospital are most likely of a different order than a “promotion”, “more money” or even “more love”. To prevent those who have faith from becoming disenchanted, this poster makes clear to them what they can expect and what not.
Does your customer know what he can expect when he gets in touch with your company? Is your customer strategy clearly stated? How does it differ from that of your competitors? Is it consistent with the vision of your company? If the answer to these questions is not crystal-clear to you, it will surely not be to your customers. The concept is probably there, somewhere, but that is not enough. The strategic company choices that you want your clients to experience need to be formalized and clearly communicated in what is called a customer strategy – or Service Concept. A good customer strategy enables you to design your organization for the desired customer experience. It helps you decide how to organize your after sales service, how to answer the phone, or how to communicate with clients. Does that seem difficult to do in your company? In that case your company’s customer strategy may not be specific enough. A well-defined and powerful customer strategy –service concept– does not only strengthen your company’s market position, it is also a guide for (strategic) decision-making.
That is why clients have a totally different experience when shopping at the Delhaize supermarket versus shopping at Colruyt. Both concepts are totally different, starting with their infrastructure. It can’t do any harm to make your customer strategy very explicit, on the contrary. Colruyt does it in the movie below, explaining what clients can expect from them and why. For instance, one of the choices they have made is to paint only two lines on the parking lot instead of three, one of their many ways of conveying their lowest price guarantee to their customers. Colruyt uses its customer strategy as a guide for decisions and adjustments: “Where can we save money to pursue our lowest price offer?”
The “Tone of Voice” in the Delhaize movie below is very different. It shows what they stand for: “Delhaize, live as you want to live.” It may not be a service concept, but the slogan matches their customer strategy perfectly. Both supermarkets are direct competitors and play off their individual strengths to attract those customers that fit their respective concepts best.
*This slogan is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and resistance fighter, who was executed in 1945 by the Nazi regime.