by Tony Vidler
For many professional services firms delivering value from actively lifting service levels is also a means of differentiation from the competition – and it is an excellent strategy that leads to a good business.
The zone of maximum potential value for a services firm though is elevated service levels over and above the competitors as well as doing different things in different ways to your competitors.
The typical practice which does things the same way as the majority of their competitors, and with the service level also being essentially similar to competitors, has clients who are fundamentally satisfied but generally the perception of service is relatively low. “Relatively” is the key word….because that service level has become the lowest common professional denominator. It is just typical, and therefore is just expected. The result is that average service is actually low service in when it comes to differentiating and delivering what is perceived as great value by clients.
If a firms’ strategy is to compete on service, then the standard must be exceptionally high in order to break away from the mainstream and differentiate and to be truly valued as exceptional by clients.
If however a firms strategy is founded upon innovation – doing new and different things to the competition – they are utterly dependent on the strength of the product or service offer and its’ execution, which is tough to deliver on consistently. If however that innovation is coupled with higher than average service delivery, then you’ve hit the sweet spot where you are completely separated from the average competitor.
This is the zone of maximum potential value for a firm today: Innovation combined with High Service. That delivers high value to clients….value in to the firm in revenue terms….and value in growth and capitalisation terms.
The real money for professional services firms long term is in utilising twin strategies of exceptional service together with a differentiated service offering.