Omar Ahmed (December 6, 2012)
There’s a couple of records that the present recession has broken, ever since it broke out onto the global scene. All-time lows for indicators such as unemployment and falling GDPs, steadily flashing on financial screens over the past couple of years, has done something that recessions of the past really didn’t manage to do.
And there’s a solid reason for that. The sheer dearth of significant economic recovery signals, since its beginning, has driven consumer confidence downward, to the extent of creating an entire new mindset. Seems like the term ‘animal spirits’ highlighted by Keynes has gone into effect, & a bit too negatively.
The question, ultimately becomes, what is that key differentiator that strikes relevant chords with a consumer-psyche scarred by a considerable amount of anxiety and financial insecurity? ‘The hunt for value’; and that is where customer service will dictate corporate ‘winners’ and ‘game-changers’, for as long as things continue like they are. Ever since the corporate world started shifting gears and adjusting to a business climate fraught with turbulence, some aspects of winners, revolving around the nucleus of enhanced customer service, have percolated forth.
Foremost, enhancing value for consumers through product and service innovation. While it’s easier to operationally determine the first part, service innovation will require deploying every possible customer-service platform to boost customer confidence and retention. It has become increasingly frustrating for customers to unsuccessfully navigate through online labyrinths of self-diagnostic resolution frameworks, before finally (phew!) arriving at the option to have a live resource interaction. Service is all about putting the customer in control; the more immediate the response, the more psychological comfort and value for them, and the more ‘bingo!’ for sales numbers.
In essence, you’ll be automatically successful at innovating customer service, if you tackle it as if you are re-inventing customer service.
While these two terms have their respective implications for marketers, the dynamics from customer service’s standpoint are a bit different. And it makes a whole lot of sense for multinational corporations, entities who have really had to maneuver and juggle through this recession, owing to the global scale of their consumer bases.
Firstly, understand the impact of this recession. For example, for the Gulf consumer it is still limited, as compared to other regions. Consumers still have the ability to state ‘I want the best’, as opposed to I’ll see what I can get. Hence, the ‘shades’ of customer service would have to be applied accordingly. So, one, understand the impact and define your customer strategy accordingly.
Secondly, the psychological impact of recessionary conditions also varies by regions. Localize your thinking and customer service strategy. There could be an organization-wide, global customer-service strategy, but the implementation needs to take into account on-going, native thought-processes, and psychological reactions to recessionary conditions. Mastering these modern fundamentals is not just the key to success, but ultimately, survival.
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