Services? The Trade Mark’s office separates them from products in its classifications and most people understand they are very different. Services are intangible and products are… well, very tangible.
You can feel and touch products… or mostly anyway, where as services… you can’t grab hold of them, if you know what I mean. Lawyers, accountants etc all offer services but how can you take what they do and really assess its tangible value?
Service is derived from a Latin word ‘Servitium’, which translated means ‘slavery’ and I know many service providers who’ll support that interpretation. My personal favourite description of service is;
1. The action of helping or doing work for someone.
synonyms: act of assistance, good turn, favour, kindness, helping hand.
So service is that intangible offering which is contrite and meaningful because it provides assistance to someone in need. Not bad. But wait! If that is the offering, how does one apply a benefit, a differential, a value in the marketing of a service.
The answer is neither obvious nor is it uncomplicated. Selling services is darn difficult and no marketer I know claims to be the champion. What little I know about service marketing is derived from my understanding of what I call ‘true service’.
To provide absolute service, or at least to strive for excellence in its provision, one must first accept that the act is 110% about the client. In the words of an old English hymn, “None of self, and all of thee”. It is only then you can claim to deliver a service; it is only then one can begin to describe its value, its benefit, its differential.
Companies like to claim ‘best service’, yet the rhetoric is absolutely at odds with their philosophy. How can you claim to delivery true service, when your organisational culture is centered around the objective of making money? As a marketer, I’ve found an answer, which may not satisfy everyone but it works for me.
I want to be truly customer focused and to do that I need to separate my ‘purpose’ from my ‘objective’. My ‘objective’ is to create a return on my investment but my ‘purpose’ is to solve problems and here’s the point of this blog. I’ve learned that I can only achieve my ‘objective’ by delivering on my ‘purpose’.
And if you can’t or won’t understand that, you’re not delivering a service, you’re just in it for the money.