Companies in Singapore need to undergo a mindset change and work on creating an uplifting service experience, which will help them to attract and retain both customers and staff, according to customer service consultant Ron Kaufman.
In today's globalised world, companies are being forced to compete on price point, Mr Kaufman pointed out. So one way companies can differentiate themselves is through customer service.
"Differentiating based on the experience your customers have from quality of service becomes one way that you can stand out from the competition and secure a higher level of customer satisfaction, customer retention, customer loyalty and customer referrals," he added.
However, his definition of service differs from the traditional definition of simply creating customer satisfaction.
"I say that service is taking action to create value for someone else. You don't just want to give (customers) what they expect. What you want to do is create a service experience for them that actually uplifts them as a recipient of your service," Mr Kaufman stressed.
In other words, going the extra mile and delivering a service experience that delights a customer, as opposed to merely meeting expectations, is what companies should be aiming for.
Based in Singapore for over 20 years, the American has, through his company UP! Your Service, worked with established names such as Singapore Airlines (SIA), Changi Airport and Marina Bay Sands, which are used as case studies in his new book, Uplifting Service.
Local companies aren't lacking in efficiency, accuracy or productivity, he pointed out. What they - and Singapore as a nation - need to work on is embracing the spirit of creating value for others.
Being able to deliver that level of service is what sets companies such as SIA and Apple apart from the masses.
"SIA and Apple long ago realised that it was the customer experience and quality of service that the organisation provides that will differentiate the company in a sustainable, competitive manner," he said. "SIA flies the exact same aircraft as most other airlines in the world. They fly in and out of the same airports. What causes them to stand out in the market, allows them to charge a price premium and get a higher yield on every flight is the quality and reputation of service."
Not to mention that a company's reputation and culture can also go a long way in attracting and retaining staff.
One way to develop such a culture is by empowering staff, though that is only half the battle. The other half is educating them and equipping them with the tools that will allow them to handle any customer service situation that is thrown at them.
Identifying staff within the organisation who can be certified as course leaders or "service champions" so that they in turn can educate their own colleagues is a more effective and relevant way of educating staff as opposed to simply sending them to external trainers, he added.
This article was first published in The Business Times.