Invest in Intimacy
The authors of a new book give customer service a new name –"customer
intimacy" and explain how to make the most of it
Compare your store to Airborne Express. It may seem far-fetched, but
if you believe customer service is important, you may have more in common
with the express delivery service than you think.
Airborne Express has developed a discipline of "customer intimacy"
to achieve its success and is featured in a book Discipline of Market
Leaders. But the book's subtitle is what should capture your attention:
"Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market."
Authors Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, management consultants, advance
the theory that all successful businesses adopt one of three value disciplines:
- Operational excellence.
- Product leadership.
- Customer intimacy.
All three are important, but customer intimacy may be the most important
to jewelry retailers. Premium customer service is one of the four main components
of value (the others are price, time and quality). The authors list several
companies that have excelled in customer intimacy, including Home Depot,
Nordstrom, Airborne Express and IBM (as it was in the 1970s). "They
offer a unique range of superior services, from education to hands-on help,
so customers can get the most out of their products," the book says.
Do you do the same?
These companies also take the long view, say the authors. "These
companies are more than happy to make investments in building relationships,
but to have an eventual return on their investment, they have to retain
their clients." Do you feel the same way?
Other tidbits of advice from the book: "Don't rest on your laurels
... Dominate your market by improving value year after year ... To stay
ahead, you have to get better and better ... Intensively compete with [your]
The authors establish a hypothetical toy company that's trying to define
its value discipline. Reading through this case study will help you to ask
questions about where you want to go, what you want to be, what your market
is and how you can get there.
The book (ISBN 0-201-40719-1) is available in stores or call Addison-Wesley
Publishing Co., (800) 238-9682.
by Jack Heeger
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.