Two years ago we wrote a post about whether there was a difference between services and product marketing (If you want the answer, click the link below after you read this). It’s true – products and services have their own challenges around marketing but productizing your services can close the gap between those differences.

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Services Produtization

Productizing a service is all about delivering relationship and value to customers in the most clear way. The financial industry has been successfully productizing their services for years. According to J.D. Power, customer satisfaction with large banks is increasing compared to mid-sized banks with decreasing scores and small banks which have plateaued. One reason for the shifts is due to larger banks offering better digital experiences. This isn’t anything special. They’re simply giving customers what they want and expect from their services. In the past, smaller banks were able to maintain high customer satisfaction by offering great customer service. The best services organizations know how to do both.

The biggest difference in products and services is the intangibility of your offering. The most important aspect is people, as it pertains to the interactions and overall experience customers have with your brand.

The Three Ps of Services

For anyone who may be skeptical about whether or not their service can actually be productized, fear not because it can. Think about the 3 Ps of services and how it relates to your organization.

Physical Evidence: No matter what you’re selling there’s an atmosphere it’s being sold in, even if it’s not a physical location. It could be the online experience or materials used in explaining how your services work.

People: In 2013 businesses lost a whopping $41 billion annually due to poor customer service, according to Smart Customer Service. In any form of business people are highly important, both internally and externally, to your organization’s success.

Process: Does the way you operate make sense? More importantly, does it make sense to customers? At one point in time, my family thought about switching cell phone carriers. The salesperson was saying one thing and by the time they were ready to receive a signed contract nothing made sense. Numbers weren’t adding up right, fees were not discussed properly and it left a sour feeling with us so we ended up walking away. Your service could be the best but if the purchasing process or delivery are unclear customers will loose trust in your brand.

Productizing Your Services

1. Look at Your Content Strategy: You’re probably producing some form of content to attract people to your site and convert them into leads. Think through the problems your content is actually solving. If you’ve been pushing content for a while then you most likely have content that ranks more popular based on traffic and time spent on those pages. Use thoses pages to your advantage.

2. Own Your Experience: This is nothing more than taking ownership over all aspects of the experience you have control over. Is your online experience as great as your in-person? This year USAA had the highest customer service rating conducted by Temkin Research Group. USAA is also ranked the highest among its competitors in the banking industry and holds the highest rank in the experience category. The Temkin survey determined the experience rating based on the three components below:

  • Success: The survey asked, “Thinking of your most recent interactions with each of these companies, to what degree were you able to accomplish what you wanted to do?” If the purchase process is complex, difficult to understand, and doesn’t make sense a customer isn’t going to want to make the leap between lead to paying customer.
  • Effort: This next question is an important one because it measures the ease of interaction between the customer and organization. It asks “Thinking of your most recent interactions with each of these companies, how easy was it to interact with the company?” This seems simple, yet so often companies get it wrong.

There’s nothing more frustrating, whether you’re a product or services organization, than not being able to get the help you’re looking for. To put it in perspective, a fellow Arke team member has been having trouble with their local television network provider. They’ve had trouble talking to the right person and every time they’re assured the problem is resolved they find out it’s not. Then they have to go through the entire cycle again. Think my co-worker is going to refer that company to anyone they know? It all ties back to experience – one bad one could mean lost customers.

  • Emotion: “Thinking of your most recent interactions with each of these companies, how did you feel about those interactions,” is the last component in the experience survey. This has to do with the experience the customer had. It will influence whether or not they’re willing to do business with you again and if they’ll speak positively about you to others.

3. Build Strong Relationships: You will inevitably have unhappy customers every now again. It’s the way you conduct and rectify those situations that influence their decision to come back and tell others about their experience. After a service is rendered if a customer is unhappy they can’t take it back the same way you can with a product. What do you offer your unhappy customers to ensure the relationship remains intact?

Most recently Delta, Southwest Airlines, and other airlines had major technology snafus that caused heavy delays and canceled flights. The best thing they can do is apologize, compensate, and make sure it never happens again (or at least majorly reduce the chances of it reoccurring).

4. Make an Abstract Concept Concrete: The best part about productizing a service is your customers grasp the concept better. You have to be able to sell the benefits of your services, communicate a clear explanation of how services are fulfilled, and ensure your customer service is excellent.

5. What’s Your Competition Doing?: This isn’t to say you should do exactly what they are but it’s an opportunity to learn from what they do well and not so well.

  • Look at their website: Is it easy to grasp what they’re offing and how they offer it? How easy is it to reach out to someone if you need help or answers? Do they have resources that help their customers in the purchase process? These are questions you need to ask of your competitors if you want to be better.
  • Find out what their customers are saying: If people are unsatisfied with your competitors it may be an opportunity to ensure you’re not falling short in the same areas.
  • Don’t Underestimate People Power: Even with all the technology in place for customers to never have to speak to a real person, sometimes people still want to talk to an actual human who will at leat try to understand their concerns or issues. This is a relatively easy place to start if you’re trying to be better than your competitors.

If you’re looking for a place to start then fill out the form below to download your free guide to productizing your services. You’ve got nothing to loose – it’s free! Hope you find it helpful. Happy productizing.

Kayla Merritt is the Digital Marketing Assistant for Arke Systems and loves all things marketing! She is a recent graduate from Georgia College & State University where she received her bachelor's degree in marketing and minor in psychology.