Innovation Inspiration: Service Branding – What’s the Latest?

09 Jul 2009|Added Value

CEO Added Value FranceIn the last 20 years, service businesses have adopted a stronger marketing culture, hired former FMCG marketers to improve marketing capability and delivery and developed home-grown service marketing specialists. So where’s service branding got to, and what’s the latest thinking on best practice?

On businessknowhow.com, Robert Croston of the Wellesley Hills Group argues that while brand is paramount in the product arena, many service companies have still failed to embrace the brand development discipline. He focuses on four key differences between product and service branding and makes the case for emphasising the company essence at the heart of the customer experience.

Read More: Four Keys to launching your Service Brand

Employee engagement and alignment are of course central to service branding. In the Harvard Business Review, Heskett, Jones, Loveman, Sasser & Schlesinger’s classic article turns the spotlight on the front-line employee. It clearly plots the links in the service profit chain and the role of employees in driving customer satisfaction and ultimately profitability.

Read More: Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work

In the McKinsey Quarterly, Braff and DeVine bring this theme up to date, berating airlines, banks and retailers for cutting back on service levels in the current crisis. They advocate more rigorous customer experience management, identifying the ‘breakpoints’ where service levels delight and start to dissatisfy customers; significant savings can be made with negligible drops in customer satisfaction.

Read More: Maintaining the Customer Experience

In the Harvard Business Review, Frances Frei writes about how to manage the chaos that is the customer and how she ‘interferes’ with the daily operations of a service business. Contrary to operations management theory, which says this sort of variability should be eliminated, Frei argues that this is both unwise and impossible.

At Added Value, we believe that the answer lies in having a strong core brand framework & set of operating principles that frontline staff are empowered to flex according to the customer interaction. And much as businesses have embraced the fertile customer interface offered by the 2.0 world, so companies have to learn to exploit the feedback from their real-world customer interactions and hardwire them into the brand development and innovation management process.

Read More: Breaking the Trade-off between Efficiency and Service

Over the years, Added Value has developed a particular approach to service branding, based on our multi-sector work across the world. We see service branding ultimately as a three-way partnership, where the customer sets her promises to the company; the company in turn enables its employees, who deliver the promise to the customer. Crucially, the service proposition and experiential benefit have to be delivered ruthlessly cross the 7Ps to ensure a consistently excellent experience.

Read More: A short introduction to service branding

By Jonathan Hall, CEO Added Value France

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