Getting Ahead of the Race in Service Industry

Service industry today dominates the economic scene in all the countries. Over a period of few decades we have seen the rise and unprecedented growth of service industry in almost all sectors including technology and telecommunications, health care, education, media, Utilities, financial and banking sector etc.

Service industries growth has been characterized by focusing on customer service which hereto pushed the product companies too to reorient themselves to look at the customers first. The concept of ‘Customer Is The King’ has come about thanks to the Service industry. In the next cycle, we see service companies having embraced technology and used technology to upgrade their service offerings altogether. This is true in all of the service sectors including the traditional hospitality and travel industries as well. Technology not only helped the service industries to scale up their business operations, it helped bring about standardization in the operations and service delivery mechanisms. At this point we see service industries beginning to align themselves to product industry culture of standardizing operations and processes and embracing the same principles of operational efficiency, quality of service and other concepts. They have also borrowed the concepts of process re-engineering and other costing methods to manage their business operations.

Today we believe that the service industry is in a mature stage. Competition in Service industry is tougher than the product industry simply because one is dealing with intangible services and customer experience as well as perceptions which can be highly subjective. What we see is that all of the service industry players in all segments have been using technology and standardized processes as enablers of their business. In the rat race, there is every chance that the service company loses its focus on the service experience as one of its deliverables and gets busy in pursuit of revenue targets and market share. This danger of forgetting that one is in the business of delivery customer delight and satisfaction in terms of experience may be lost sight of.

When all of the companies given similar scale of operations are following the same standard procedures and similar systems to manage their business, how does one become a market leader?. The answer to this question lies in ‘doing things differently’. Take a look at the airline sector for example. When the competition is so stiff, two companies have thrived amidst tough competition. South West and Virgin Atlantic have managed to become leaders by innovating themselves differently from that of competition. Southwest grabbed attention with its no frills flying and offering the cheapest airfares, while Virgin Atlantic has built not only a business but a brand successfully. If you read the Virgin Atlantic case study, you will realize that the airline has invented many ‘Firsts’ in customer service by offering a brand new in-flight experience with entertainment as well as in flight services including personalized services such as foot massage, customized meals etc in flight. They have followed this up with specialized origin and destination services offering company chauffeur driven car from the airport including special services such as ‘drive in check in’ at certain airports. According to Richard Branson - “A brand name that is known internationally for innovation, quality and a sense of fun is what we have always aspired to with Virgin.”

Those companies that realize the value of their core service offering and focus continually on innovating their service offering and ensuring increased customer benefit and value will naturally find themselves ahead of the game in the long run.


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