How much does your service cost?

...and does cutting corners cost even more?

The difficulty of managing the balance between CSAT and cost

How does your customer service level get prioritized in your budget? If you’re like most institutions, it isn’t. Often, it’s buried in noninterest expense, or worse, split between several different line items that each struggle to justify their existence, let alone growth.

So, how do you position your efforts? Is service level a necessary evil or opportunity? Seth Godin explores two winning examples in Customer service is a choice:

Some brands made it a part of their marketing strategy (Zappos, for example) while others saw it as a bottomless expense and did as little as they could (Google, for one.) The successful companies in the no-support group spent the money they saved on user experience, working hard to make it so you’d never need to call them.

Both are defensible choices.** Great customer service is expensive, but it’s also free.** It’s free because delighting a customer who has an issue is the single cheapest way to not only keep that customer, but also have them spread the word.

So, how do you prioritize efforts with so many competing priorities? It comes down to why you’re winning today. If you’re the low-cost provider or sole provider in your geography, then by all means, provide the leanest offering possible, i.e., Costco.

However, if the service you provide is really what sets you apart from competitors, you can’t afford to. This is the path to mediocrity and irrelevance.

If your competitive advantage is customer service, then you need to deliver that better than anyone else your customers/members would consider

Not necessarily in the world (but aim high). And not necessarily who you think your competitors are. But, who your customers would consider instead of you.

How can you tell who your customers are considering? Ask them.

Looking for a deliberate, disciplined approach to gathering competitive intelligence? See this ridiculously detailed breakdown by ProfitWell founder Patrick Campbell, built from his time as an analyst with a 3 letter agency.

The bottom line -> if your strategy is differentiated service, you must go all in. Your job is then to determine the most efficient and effective way to deliver that service. Falling short on your promise, whether explicit or implied, is the fastest way to bring an end to your institution.

Also, we are recording the inaugural episodes of a new podcast by and for Community Banking Leaders. It’s called Behind the Vault: Conversations with Customer-Driven Bankers. If you or someone at your institution would like to be highlighted and share your story, apply here ->

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