Customer perception is your reality

Facial Expressions

Looking at the cloud marketplace you could be forgiven for assuming that every supplier is offering pretty much the same thing. When everything appears to be a commodity then price becomes the overriding factor. This is one of the reasons AWS does so well. If all you want to do is buy a chunk of compute resource then that’s probably a good move.

How do all the cloud suppliers compete with this and how do they provide something that differentiates them in the marketplace? The answer could be the service experience they offer their customers.

We’ve all got personal stories where we’ve received really good service from a shop or company and we continue to go back and spend more money with them. We do this because we value the service. But, if it’s purely a commodity we are buying it’s always going to be about price.

But how many suppliers are truly focused on providing great customer service? This isn’t just something that happens — it’s a culture that needs to be driven throughout the organisation from the board down.

  • Some of the traits of good quality service include:
  • Understanding customers and what’s important to them.
  • Listening to what they are saying.
  • Being adaptable, flexible, approachable and easy to do business with.
  • Being able to get the job done.

A customer always has a choice which supplier they will use. However, they will award business to suppliers that genuinely care about them and are truly interested in solving their problems. As a service provider something will go wrong at some stage that impacts your customer and possibly your service delivery. Suppliers understand this and so do customers. And it’s how you deal with it when it goes wrong that can differentiate you.

I remember many years ago when I worked for IBM, the “moments of truth” story. This was a concept that the former Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) CEO, Jan Carlzon, came up with. He successfully changed the fortune of the airline over a number of years. The concept was quite simple:

Every time a customer had an interaction with someone from SAS they formed an opinion of the company. He called them “moments of truth”. He used this approach to build a culture where the customer was the most important thing to SAS, something that was missing from the airline industry at the time.

There are many customers out there that are either unsure what to do about cloud or need a lot of advice and continual support to help them achieve their desired outcomes. By focusing on providing a great customer experience you can differentiate what you are offering, add value and move away from the commodity argument.

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