Strategies that differentiate

A test for all channel companies is to recognise and act on the ever closer relationship between customer service and differentiation. Here, John Murphy, Customer Service Director at Gamma, discusses the primary driving forces propelling his service strategy.

With service moving up the strategic agenda and businesses hungry for greater differentiation, big investments in research and system upgrades are wholly justifiable. "More companies are waking up to the competitive advantage that good customer service brings," stated Murphy. "It's already high on the agenda for a lot of prospective customers and businesses are thinking more about how they can differentiate themselves from competitors with the service that they provide.

"Customers now expect quicker responses, especially to online channels like email and chat. They also want more of a self-serve experience which puts them in control. Customers in the B2C markets expect to be able to buy, sell and manage products online as standard, and customers are now asking more questions of the B2B markets to provide more automation and richer portals."

Gamma has developed a range of new tools for its portal to help partners provide a more competitive service. These include fault diagnostics (product health checks and online ticket management), solution deployment (automated pre-port test calls and online numbering tools) and quicker portal journeys.

"We need to constantly think of ways to evolve our service," added Murphy. "Much of this development process is based on the feedback we get from our channel partners. For example, another new development is the upcoming launch of the Gamma Academy, an initiative to offer partners online, interactive and bite-sized training across our range of products and services. We are also holding support roadshows in October where our progress will be measured against the previous year's feedback."

A primary objective for Gamma is to be seen as a trusted partner. "By that I mean trusted to manage the risk of service failure or delay," commented Murphy. "We also need to have the right skills and knowledge to support our customers and to understand the different needs of each organisation we deal with. Finally, we want to be straightforward to do business with, which means we keep things simple and think about the effort we place on our customers through every interaction.

"We place equal importance on the support that our teams provide and our portal services. Service is part of our culture and not contained to any one team or department. People across our business are constantly thinking about service and challenging each other to do more."