In “Type of Strategy: Which Fits Your Business” from Strategy: Create and Implement the Best Strategy for Your Business, four different strategies are laid out: low-cost leadership, differentiation, customer relationship, and network effect. I just made the conversion from PC to Mac, so Apple has been on my mind and I immediately thought of them when thinking of customer service. I know for me, customer service was the number one reason why I decided to buy a Mac.
John Graham, when describing ideal salespeople, refers to Apple as a prime example. Apple has done an excellent job of differentiating themselves from other laptop and technology providers through their customer relationship strategy.
The case article we read states that to make a customer relationship strategy work, a company needs to build relationships that add real value. Some ways a company can do this are to simplify customers’ lives or work, to provide ongoing benefits, to personalize service, and to customize solutions. Apple has gone out of their way to do all of these things. One, the ability to go into a store to the genius bar rather than call a service number greatly simplifies customers’ lives. People don’t have to spend hours on hold trying to explain a problem that could be easily seen in person. Time is extremely valuable to consumers. Even more, Apple gives customizable solutions and personalized service through a variety of care plans. Their one-to-one plan allows you to set up training sessions for whatever you want to learn on a Mac, and is entirely customizable. Moreover, it is one on one with an Apple specialist, making it personal.
What are some other companies that have used customer service to distinguish themselves? Do you think this model is better or just different than other business strategy models?
John Graham, April 11, http://www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/article-display/3760602255/articles/dentisryiq/industry/2011/04/how-to_make_salespeople.html