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Empowerment is the core of superior customer service

imagesBy Francis Moran

We have a bit of a preoccupation with customer service here at Francis Moran and Associates, and we write about it a lot. It stems from my conviction that superior customer service is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage available to most companies. If you have a technology advantage, the next wave of innovation will leapfrog over you. If you have a price advantage, someone will eventually figure out how to do it more cheaply. But if you treat your customers like the kings and queens they are, you will prevail over the long term, and even more so if you are in a commodity industry. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I call it “Francis’s first law of competitive differentiation.”

Usually, we are bewailing the sorry state of customer service almost everywhere. It’s as though most companies have yet to figure out that the cost of retaining an existing customer is a fraction of the cost of acquiring a new one. Every so often, someone does such a truly horrible job that I am obliged to award them my Air Canada-Harold McGowan Memorial Award for Truly Egregious Customer Service in honour of Air Canada’s baggage-handling chief at San Francisco Airport who said to me, when I started telling him why my bag had failed to arrive with me on a flight from Calgary, “Keep talking sir, it’s going in one ear and out the other.”

But nobody’s getting that award today. Indeed, just the opposite. Read More

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