Leadership in Service Industry

The past few decades has seen unprecedented growth of service industry. In fact we can today say that the service industry is at its maturity stage. The gamut of services that make up for the significant contribution towards the GDP of the economy are numerous ranging from financial services, health care, hospitality, travel, insurance, information services, retail, utilities, information technology enabled services including social network and media services etc.

One of the prominent features of service industry that we see is the use of technology and standardized processes to drive operations. Every company makes investments into technology and offer gamut of services to the customers. Every service company tries its best to increase its operational efficiency and protect its bottom line while trying to increase its market share. Doing business efficiently and offering best service at the cheapest rates is what these companies are aiming to achieve. In the bargain most service organizations tend to lose out in the longer run and fail to see a real healthy growth in revenues. This happens only because they have failed to perceive the right direction and leadership strategies for service companies. Most often these companies are found to have adopted the strategies and plans that are appropriate for the ‘Product’ companies.

A service company needs to create that edge by doing things differently from the others, while continuing to strive for operational excellence and efficiency from within. While competition can easily duplicate the service offering, maintaining leadership calls for a different mindset and thinking in terms of continuous innovation and providing enhanced value of customer experience and service.

Southwest Airlines, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and credit card companies like Bank of America, Citi Bank credit cards have grown to become leaders in their market segment globally not only because of their service offerings and competitiveness, but by design to become customer centric Organizations that is driven to innovate all the time and outperform themselves all the time. The major different is that these organizations are built and think differently than the rest of the companies. These organizations too are driven by the same philosophy of operational efficiency, excellence and quality etc. But the difference lies not in their procedures but in the people that manage the operations and the management. Each of these Companies have tried to achieve excellence by choosing to focus few value propositions and create customized service experience that is difficult to be copied or matched by competition. When Bank of America introduced its credit cards in the market, they chose to build such robust processes and equipped with technology they promised fastest delivery of credit cards to the customers, which no other company could match at that point of time. The pain of having to apply and wait for the card to reach the customer through mail after due verification and authentication was something that this bank chose to attack and work to address this major pain point. While the rest of the credit card offerings would have been the same as the others in the market, they managed to score over the others and managed to establish their leadership overnight. This was not all, the company further went on to provide enhanced value to personalized customer service to customers. Any customer could expect the customer service to be flexible and go out of the way to facilitate the customer’s special requests. The bank being a service industry had got their focus and strategy just right.


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