Most of us use the word “service” to describe both intangible products and the customer care we receive after we buy something. In our home, my wife — a passionate advocate for the Queen’s English — argues that “service” is what we buy; “servicing” is post-purchase support and maintenance.

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No matter the industry, no matter what is being sold, organizations need to embrace — and prioritize — service as core to their brands.

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In years past, I would agree that there is a distinction. But today, service is the product, whether you’re providing medical care, selling clothing or delivering broadband connectivity. That’s because service spans all aspects of the customer experience — from exploring options and making a buying decision to using the product, maximizing the value of it and reaching out for help if something goes wrong.

No matter the industry, no matter what is being sold, organizations need to embrace — and prioritize — service as core to their brands. To put it more succinctly, today every brand is a service brand. It represents a new way of thinking about and managing service, and it speaks to the greater value service can deliver to your customers and your business.

My colleague Erika Simpson explores the idea that every brand is a service brand in a five-part article series:

01. Why customer service is your most important product.

Is it time to stop viewing service through a lens of only efficient and reactionary support for problem resolution? What if you began viewing — and managing — service as a value center for achieving some of your most important business goals?

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02. Show empathy or know context: Which matters more?

Heartfelt apologies have a time and place but do little to solve a customer’s issue. A better approach is to give your agents the contextual insights they need to fully understand the customer and help them to best meet their objectives.

03. Better service? Empower customers to build their own.

You may appreciate bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurants or bring-your-own device (BYOD) policies at work. Have you considered applying another “BYO” to customer service? Get to know Build Your Own Service Experience (BYOSE).

04. How can you use AI to support better conversations?

Service interactions are the heart of your brand and the core of your relationship with the customer. AI plays an increasingly important role in making every conversation count. But you won’t deliver the necessary value by deploying simplistic AI that tries to engage in human-like communication. What could you do instead?

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05. Are you ready for a service infusion?

Here are 3 ways to get started. Are you treating service as a department on your org chart? Or are you infusing it throughout your organization — creating a service culture and network driven by advanced technology and new ways of operating?

These are thought-provoking topics to inspire you to continue reimagining service for your brand. I invite you to explore the questions Erika posed, the guidance they share and the opportunities they highlight for your organization.

No matter what you call it, service has never been more important to your brand and your business.

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Edwin Van der Ouderaa

Senior Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Customer, Sales and Service

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