At the heart of the (retail) brand

Customer Service usually evokes images of a waiter serving in a restaurant or a listless shop assistant approaching a customer with a lazy ‘can I help you’.

It doesn’t help that there is a whole category of businesses (the so-called service industry’ that has now also appropriated the ‘service’ word to describe the intangible nature of their products.

Despite the ubiquity (or maybe because of it) there are as many definitions of customer service as there are consultants to be kicked form under the proverbial bush.

And each consultant will be sprouting the same nonsense as the ‘business imperative’ for customer service:

  • Without a customer a business cannot survive.

  • Customers pay our wages.

  • Good customer service is the only way to differentiate your offer.

Add their particular metaphor (often sport) to colour in the necessity for great customer service and then a compelling narrative for customer service has been woven.

It is conveniently forgotten that customer service is nearly impossible to measure – or if asked, another glib statement about ‘feeling it on the bottom line’ will be put forward as the rationale.

For any thoughtful manager who can actually see and think beyond the fluff and bubbles generated by most customer service approaches, there are many questions that are legitimately raised:

  • Is there a rationale for good customer service?

  • What does customer service have to do with subservience – if anything?

  • How does customer service relate to business strategy, the success (or failure) of a particular business model?

  • Is customer service more/less important for certain businesses?

  • How do you actually, really deliver customer service if it is that intangible and difficult to measure?

We propose a conceptual framework that places customer service at the heart of the brand. In fact, we postulate that it IS the heart of the brand.

Would love to hear what you think about the model...

Heart of Brand