In the past, I've written other articles on the subject of strategy and competition. To summarize the messages from earlier articles, it is my belief that every business competes across only three main dimensions--product, price and service. Certainly, strategies to cover all three elements are essential for the ongoing growth and success of a business. That said, this piece focuses on service delivery.

Here are 5 management practices that are essential for competing on service:

1. Adopt an "Outside-In" Perspective: If you want to be exceptional at servicing clients, you need to walk in their shoes. By adopting an outside-in perspective on all of your customer dealings, you'll begin to see your business (and how you're treating them) through their eyes. By encouraging your team to practice the same, they will help you re-imagine the customer experience and redefine your service delivery approaches and policies.

2. Encourage an "In It Together" Attitude: Speaking of your service delivery team, you want to do all that you can to inspire teamwork and trust among those front-line personnel. After all they define the customer experience. Be sure to encourage a cooperative approach among them in servicing the customer. It will not only make their jobs easier to do when they know that they have a team behind them, but, they'll begin to keep one another honest in living up to the shared values of delivering impeccable service.

3. Hire and Train for Empathy: It's important to look for and develop empathy among your front-line staff. The better your team can understand where your customers are coming from and what they need, the more likely your team will be able to deliver the "right" service in the "right" way to impress your customers.

4. Empower the Front-Line: Once your team is properly staffed and trained, it's wise to get out of their way and let them deliver on your promises. An empowered front-line (that are properly prepared to do their jobs) will make the most appropriate service delivery decisions without having to seek permission or approval. In turn, empowered teams will streamline your whole service process without any negative impact on your business.

5. Measure for Customer Satisfaction: One of the areas that may of my clients trip-up on is employee measurement. Many fail to identify and institute the most appropriate measures to encourage desired staff behaviors. So, be sure to measure them on customer happiness and not attempt to limit their ability to deliver great service by measuring them on the wrong things.

To close, please remember that your customer always have other choices. So, instituting a service delivery model that serves and delights your most discerning customers will keep them coming back for more. I hope that you use these 5 management practices to form the foundation for your service delivery approach. As I begin to drive a new consulting practice within N2Growth, I intend to use them for sure!

If you like this column, subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss an article.