Sales & Marketing

Does the service have an image problem?

Article image The image problem in service

It is not uncommon for professionals to complain about the lack of attention that service receives within the company. As a result, necessary investments in one's own area fail to materialize and one feels like a fifth wheel. What can we do about it?

First of all, let's clarify the question in the headline: Is it really the case that service doesn't get the attention it deserves? Of course, there is no conclusive answer that simple. It's true that in some companies, customer service is still regarded as a boring chore that has to be done but doesn't generate much enthusiasm. Accordingly, many a service manager has a somewhat more difficult time among colleagues who come from sales, development or production, for example.

But don't we also have some good cards in our hand when it comes to service? Many companies have now understood how important service is for a company to continue to grow and differentiate itself from the competition. The opportunities presented by extremely high margins on services and parts have also begun to make themselves felt. Production processes and machines have been optimized more and more since the beginning of industrialization, and progress here is only possible in tippy-toe steps, while there is still a lot of development potential in service. Do we as service lobbyists have the right to complain at all? Or don't we have to take a hard look at ourselves and ask why our hobbyhorse is still trotting along as a lame horse in some areas?

What are the reasons for the perception?

We want to turn the tables at this point and look at everything from the other direction. What part do we have in the problem described and what can we do about it? In the spirit of the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who once remarked: "It is ridiculous not to want to avoid one's own wickedness, which is possible, but to want to avoid the wickedness of others, which is impossible.

Many service managers come from a technical background. The rest usually end up in customer service via their business background. It's not surprising that the very technically savvy fellows in particular have a bit of trouble improving the external perception of their important job. Big internal marketing is not always their thing, the focus is on delivering good work. If that were different, they probably would have actually ended up in marketing. Perhaps there needs to be a bit more talk here about the principle of doing good and talking about it.

What can we do to give the service more visibility?

It may be necessary to invest a little more in the perception of one's own service organization to achieve this. But how can this work? The first step could be to act according to the well-known marketing slogan and to stop thinking exclusively in terms of problems and instead think in terms of solutions. After all, the perception of service is not set in stone. It can be changed and, to some extent, controlled.

Precisely because we hold so many trump cards in our hand in the service sector, we don't need to hide behind them. To increase the visibility of the service organization, you have to start at two points. On the one hand, we look at the external view of the customer and, on the other, at the visibility within our own company.

Increase visibility to the customer

To make your services understandable to potential buyers, you must first start with the design of your services. Services are far less tangible than products. Everyone knows what they imagine a Mercedes to be and has a concrete image in their mind. If you want to visualize the services of the same company, it's much harder to do so.

Here, for example, the correct design of Service contracts be a first step. Of course, you want to give customers the greatest possible flexibility so that they can put together their service offering as freely as possible according to their needs. But it also makes sense to design ready-made contract offers that can then be marketed more effectively.

We are familiar with this from mobile providers, for example. There, the contract models are called "Allnet-Flat", "Smart-Tariff" or similar. The advantage of this approach is that the various contract models can be given a name. And anything with a name is easier to sell. This makes services more tangible than simply claiming to do a great job.

Another important point for this is also the right cooperation between sales and service. You have to ask yourself how your services can be marketed. This is a topic we have addressed many times in the ServiceLobby. Are your product sales people the right ones to sell your services? Or do you need a standalone service sales team? Or how can I train the existing team so that they are empowered to sell services successfully? In addition to a suitable incentive system, these are the two main points for making your services more visible to customers. In addition, of course, there is also a good relationship with the marketing and PR department so that they also highlight your services.

Be perceived better in your own company

In order to improve the internal perception of your department, you can also take appropriate measures. One important step we have taken in our Podcast already discussed: Introducing a profit center logic for service so that your organization is no longer perceived as just a cost factor, but as a business area in its own right. This makes sense in order to gain visibility and importance in the company.

Another step can be the introduction of dedicated service product management. If you have created responsible capacities for this, they can also contribute to the necessary interfaces with top management and are perceived as equal partners alongside the product managers from the primary product business.

Last but not least, "Do good and talk about it" also applies to internal perception. It may be beneficial to sit down with the internal communication channels, such as the intranet or company newsletter, and the people responsible for them. This method is of course also very suitable for showing colleagues what the service is capable of.

So does the service have an image problem? Maybe a little bit! But it's also our problem, and we have the necessary tools to solve it. We just have to approach it a little more strategically.

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