Excellence Is Being Great At The Things Yours Customer Value Most

Customer Value Foundation Helps to Measure Customer Score (CVM) Score


  • What do my customers value most? What is important to them?
  • How do I compare to my competitors? How do I perform better than them and become more attractive to customers?
  • What will it take to excel
  • How else could I find excellence? What tasks do I conduct first?

Below article is by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss, the authors of Uncommon Services. How to Win by Putting Customers at  the Core of Your Business, published by Harvard Business Review Press. You can read below articel at FORBES website.

Service excellence can be a slippery concept. We know it when we see it, and when we see it, we’re usually better off? But what exactly is great service?

In our work with service companies, we use a very specific definition: Excellence is being great at the things your customers value most. If you’re great at something that few of your customer care much about—see Saturday delivery from the U.S. post office –it doesn’t count. In fact it is counterproductive.

Because here’s the problem. Your capital and energy are limited resources, so to afford to excel at the things that matter most, you have to under-invest somewhere else. Our advice is simply to underperform rationally, in the area your customer value least.

Take WalMart. WalMart customers want the lowest possible price on the things they use every day. And WalMart delivers, with reliably rock-bottom pricing and fantastic product variety. To afford it, the company under-delivers on other part of the retail experience, such as sales support and ambience. You won’t find any arm of helpful employee at your average WalMart, and its décor isn’t likely to give you ideas for your home renovation. Yet WalMart customers are delighted to make these tradeoffs.

This is the pattern among service leaders in every industry we have studied. It turns out that winning service companies aren’t great at everything. They’re bad at some things, but the pattern isn’t haphazard. It’s mapped tightly to their customers’ priorities.

How do you pull this off in your own business? The key is to choose your weaknesses carefully. Your goal is strategically bad service, bad service your customers will tolerate, even wear as a badge of honor, as long as they get what they want most in return. Many IKEA customers are proud of the fact that they have to assemble their own stylish, affordable furniture.

What do my customers value most?Imagine you have a few of your best customers in front of you. What do they care about? Which parts of the service experience are important to them (low prices, quick response time, etc.)? Now list those service attributes in order of importance, from their perspective. To be sure you’re right, test the list with real, live customers. We guarantee you that some part of that conversation will surprise you, and the

How do I compare to my competitors?

Performance is a relative concept. Once you’re confident about what your customers want, put your current service offering in the context of your industry.  See how you stack up compared with the other key players, particularly on high-value dimensions. Does someone else own excellence? Is there little difference between your service model and everyone else’s?  This type of mapping will lay out the options for any potential strategic shifts.


What will it take to excel?

Or, put differently, what would your customers be willing to give up for the things they really want? For example, some health care companies are betting that patients will trade access to a high-status physician for immediate care from someone with fewer degrees (see CVS’s Minute Clinics). What tradeoffs would your own customers make? Would they give up cutting-edge technology to get a service rep on site faster? Table that R&D initiative, and add slack to your service teams.

How else could I fund excellence?

Tradeoffs in the service experience are one way to create the resources for greatness, but you’ll likely need other strategies as well. Charging extra is the simplest approach, but it’s not easy to pull off in a tough economy. Consider others: running the back office more efficiently or reducing costs in ways that also improve service. Progressive Insurance has saved a bundle of money on fraud by sending high-service vans to the scene of an accident, both to dust off customers and to make sure that the accident actually happened. The customers they want, the ones who aren’t trying to defraud them, love the experience. The vans more than pay for themselves.


DO YOU NEED TO CREATE VALUE FOR YOUR CUSTOMER? IF YES, CONTACT CUSTOMER VALUE FOUNDATION TO KNOW “WHY”

Customer Value Foundation Helps To Measure Customer score (CVM) Score


Customer Value Foundation (CVF) helps companies create and capture value at all levels, leading to increased shareholder wealth
Gautam Mahajan
President-Customer Value Foundation
Email: mahajan@customervaluefoundation.com

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