Sunday, April 28, 2013

ASQ Influential Voices: Avoiding Commoditization

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about establishing a body of knowledge around "service quality" - is it needed?

For those who aren't familiar with the term, a "body of knowledge" (BOK) represents all the accumulated knowledge on a given subject.  By organizing and documenting all the key terms, concepts, and methodologies, a common framework is created.

My answer to the original question is yes.  And while there are probably dozens of equally good reasons to establish these best practices, the most compelling to me is the growing threat of commoditization.

In today's internet economy, consumers are very adept at finding comparable products at lower prices.  As the traditional barriers to entry disappear - more and more competitors will emerge, offering lower and lower prices.  Trying to become or stay the "low-cost" provider is difficult, and quite frankly, not very much fun.

The best and often only way to truly differentiate yourself is to provide value-added services that your customers can't find anywhere else (whether paid for or not).  Even in a market with highly-commoditized products, customers pay attention to the "experience".  How easy is the buying process?  What complimentary services are offered throughout the lifecycle?  How do we respond when problems arise? 

These are only a few of the many facets of service quality.  A body of knowledge helps standardize what many firms are already doing to define, measure, and improve their services.  The more an organization builds a discipline around this, the more it will simply outpace its rivals. 

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