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The importance of Customer Service — Part-1

  1. The increasing oil prices
  2. The ever shrinking rupee
  3. Settlement of Tarbela Dam affectees
  4. ChenOne changing life styles
  5. The importance of customer service

Firms which are winners at the market place have to show vision, persistence and obsession to benefit the customers

By Prof Dr. Abdul Hadi, Dean of Business Management Institute
July 26 - August 1, 1999

The visionaries place the customer at the core of their organization's business systems. In fact, it takes a visionary to see the mass market, assemble the financial and human resources and be the winner at the market place.

What establishes the position of the winner firms at the market place is the commitment to meeting and exceeding customer satisfaction and their continuous self questioning how well "our product fulfills needs and expectation of the customers".

To sustain the competition, the firms that are winners at the market place have to show vision, persistence and obsession to benefit the customers. As a result of their belief, the leading and dominant firms continuously deliver superior value to customers even if they have to render some of their products obsolete in the processes of creating value to customers. Value is created by providing a benefit, solving a problem, meeting a need or helping a customer. A company that can provide greater benefit to a customer is the winner at the market place.

The customer is very sensitive about differences of functional and emotional benefits. He is very much conscious of purchase price, life cycle cost and acquisition cost. He is highly concerned with the superior value — value that must outweigh the difference in cost to him, value that also includes the quality, service, courtesy, customer listening and nichemanship. Remember that these concerns for customer can fetch a high price for your product or service and can place your firm as a winner at the market place.

Higher quality may ensure your victory. It may lead to higher volume and economies of scale and reduced costs of the product. These savings can offset potentially higher costs of the product in terms of ingredients, materials, components or service, an advantage which makes a firm to be a winner at the market place.

Offers added through marketing support, in a more timely fashion, can create value for a customer. This may involve the product or service, price communication message, awareness of the offer and the availability of the product with convenience.

Companies lose their place in the market when they ignore the customers'' needs and do not show any distinctive competence or unique capability. Many products wither away from the markets because a firm does not understand the changing market environment and importance of delivering values to customers. The customer never forgives those firms which indulge in squeezing money out of the pocket of the customer through tantalizing publicity.

Firms that are winners at the market place are different. These firms have unique capability and ability to provide superior value to customers on a continuous basis. They call themselves winners at the market place because they claim that they have the ability to do things that others cannot do.

Differences in the value of competitors, provided to the consumer, are based on differences in skills and resources and business systems. They could include special knowledge about technologies or markets, the ability of people from different functional areas to work together or attitudes about the importance of the customers.

Business system is that group of strategically relevant and distinctive activities that a company performs to create, sell and service what it makes.

Why certain banks in Pakistan like Allied Bank or other banks like Credit Agricole are encouraging their employees to join Business Administration's programmes on week-ends to acquire formally business systems knowledge. The reason is simple. These banks believe that it is only through acquiring business systems knowledge that these banks can plan their Corporate business understand, and satisfy their customers. I tell you that the investment in bank executive's education will surely give them a competitive advantage and will help gain for them victory at the market place leaving behind the banks which nurtured negative techniques to increase their turnover and targets.

The other day when I visited a friend of mine at Bank of America at I.I. Chundringar road, I heard an officer of the Bank telling his junior, "The customer pays your wages." This shows an extreme regard for the customer. With this belief the Bank of America is sure to be the winner at the market place.