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Differentiating Your Brand and Maximizing Market Share through Outstanding Customer Service

3 Jul, 2006 By: Alan Koch imageSource

Differentiating Your Brand and Maximizing Market Share through Outstanding Customer Service

The quest for increased market share and improved brand recognition has long relied
on such practices as product promotions, service contract discounts and supply
trial offers. But as consumers grow increasingly savvy, and subsequently more
demanding and less tolerant, such methods return only marginal results. In fact,
today such rote forms of the customer experience have been reduced to only small
pieces of any market share acquisition strategy.

Consider the adage from business consultant extraordinaire, Tom Peters, who
once said something like, “Coffee stains on airplane flip-down trays mean they
don’t do their engine maintenance properly.” Such an experience makes it tough
to make a positive, lasting impression. As customer expectations have risen,
tolerance levels have declined. As a result, establishing and then maintaining
brand recognition has become increasingly difficult. A messy airplane tray shows
a lack of pride of ownership, which translates to a lack of respect for the

Such a lesson can and should be embraced by any organization looking to
increase market share. The road to the business nirvana of increased market
share and brand loyalty starts not with the customer, but with the company. It
is imperative that business executives today begin to create within their
organizations an environment that establishes and fosters pride. Once that
occurs on the inside, it will begin to seep into the customer experience,
helping to drive better service, creating long-term, loyal and growing customer

Less Incentive, More Messaging

Incentive-driven or not, good customer service and support is an expected and
critical aspect of any successful business. From having an automobile serviced
or a flip down tray cleaned, to calling a customer complaint line, earning
repeat business and building word-of-mouth advertising makes customer service as
much of an art as a science. A recent SSPA survey revealed that service is a
selection criterion for eighty percent of respondents, and more than half listed
service as one of their top three decisive factors when making a purchasing
decision. Ultimately, customer service has become as much of a commodity as a
company’s product offerings.

By turning internally to its workforce, the people who represent a company’s
products and services everyday can improve its brand reputation and gain
valuable industry market share.

The first step is to train and provide company messages using the “Six Times
Rule.” Studies have shown that in order for important company communication such
as mission statements, goals and messaging to be fully digested and understood
by employees and customers, it must be stated six times. To meet this rule,
communication must be continuously visible and come in a variety of forms,
including motivational kickoff meetings, formal and informal recognition,
Web-based events, newsletters, roundtable sessions and advisory councils. These
tactics are not new, but are rarely practiced as a daily part of the people
process, customer relationship management or in brand differentiation.

Earned not Learned

Believing in a company’s message and offerings is key. When employees have
company pride, their expertise grows along with word-of-mouth sharing—driving
sales and amplifying customer satisfaction. However, pride cannot be taught,
bought or forced. It has to come from all levels within the organization to
foster. So, how can a company create pride?

Submitting the organization, its offerings and employees for highly acclaimed
awards and certifications helps generate a tangible sense of worth and value.
Often, winning these accolades means more than just employee pride. It can
translate into product and services validation in the eyes of your customer. In
the end, these awards mean a company must determine which of the multitude of
industry and third party endorsements will most significantly impact its brand
image and drive market share.

Two important factors to consider when identifying the right recognition

1 What will be honored (product, service, etc.).

2 The time investment required to earn the mark of distinction. Many
certifications and awards focus solely on a product, which is an important
factor in the customer purchasing process. Yet statistics show that an award or
certification that recognizes outstanding customer satisfaction delivers higher
levels of market share.

The influence an award or certification will have on a company’s brand has to
be equivalent to the time investment required to enter and win. This can be
determined by reviewing the submission process and requirements, previous
winners, and the effect the acknowledgement had on the organization’s brand
image and market position. Remember, the more prestigious the recognition, the
greater involvement and work required. To increase the probability of beating
the competition, companies should create a dedicated task force that is driven
to earn the honor and can lead the entire workforce to success.

“Power” Builds Brands

Providing certificates and circle ratings since 1968, being honored by J.D.
Power and Associates is a trusted sign that a company is in tune with its
customers. From automotive and consumer electronics to business products and
services, this firm conducts independent and unbiased surveys of customer
satisfaction, product quality and buyer behavior. J.D. Power and Associates has
recognized highly regarded companies such as JetBlue, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and

In 2006, Xerox became the first document management company to receive
certification from J.D. Power and Associates for excellence in customer service
and support. The certification was the result of an independent assessment of
the company’s ability to provide support when customers needed it and in the
form they required. All aspects of the after sale delivery process—from call
center operators to the front line technical employees—were evaluated for
process adherence, consistency and, most importantly, customer input.

Customer reaction to the accolades was outstanding. They were pleased to have
a third-party recognize that their business partner was capable of meeting any
and all of their support needs. Equally important was the Xerox employee
response. While most product awards stir a sense of pride, recognition for
excellence in service and support signifies that an employee's efforts day in
and day out really make the difference. To further the certification’s impact,
the “Six Times Rule” communication process was incorporated into all marketing
collaterals, giveaway materials and newsletter announcements.

A prestigious award has a significant impact on an already proud
organization. Imagine the significance similar accolades can have on market
share and brand image for companies both large and small. Much in the same way
that the successful business fosters a sense of quality and pride among its
employees through positive reviews, your organization can take steps towards
greater pride and better customer service that drives market share. Starting
today, consider a yearly or biannual customer service award that your company
could add to its portfolio and remember—the more prestigious, the more valuable
the honor is to your organization, employees and ultimately your profitable
customer relationships.

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