At Your Service!




Service and performances are rather like mozzarella. Without a bit of added flavor they're pretty bland. Mozzarella needs basil, tomatoes and a dash of balsamic vinegar to engage our taste buds. Concepts like service and peformance need some modifiers to trigger associations. Peak performance brings to mind elite sports, intrepid mountaineers, Usain Bolt. And good service should have an echo of cozy meals spent in good company. Spontaneously however a number of unpleasant experiences tend to pop into your mind. Here a few random occasions that just surfaced in mine: "Check, please?" Waitress: "You'll have to wait for my colleague!", followed by an annoyingly long wait. Or: "Is this scarf made of merino wool?". Salesperson: "Haven’t got a clue. Why’ntcha look at the label?" Or at that in-location where you call in at an absurdly late hour for a bite to eat, after having been told there'd be space then, and the maître d' says:"Sorry, we're full up." And in an aside: "Kind of silly to come here if you don't have a reservation." Well, goodbye service culture.

There are numerous anecdotes involving cash registers, sales counters and restaurants, lineups or phones. Yet, sometimes you experience gratifying, unexpected and heartwarming encounters in the services sector. And when you do, they often make such an impression that you still recall them years later. Which not only begs the question, why do these things happen so rarely, but also: What constitutes a good service culture? Three things: 1. Objective advice. 2. Genuine support amidst the daily deluge of offers. 3. Intrinsically motivated employees whose manner and performance contributes to making a brand experience unforgettable. The saleslady who calls you without being asked to inform you about the delivery of a product. The man at the shop counter with a selection of food products for tasting who is as passionate about their provenience as if he'd harvested them himself. Or the VBZ, our local public transport system, who dropped off the key I'd left behind in a tram at the tram stop closest to me.

This illustrates: Services, at worst, contain some anecdotal value¬ – and, at best, provide an enormous potential for differentiation. Whether this be hairdressing, dental hygiene, vegetables, fashion advice or serving: Those who love what they do, usually do it extremely well. Something a lot of companies have obviously not yet understood. They prefer to invest in state-of-the-art websites, glossy brochures or a bottle of champagne, as a thank-you gift for buying their car. However, it is precisely the interaction with employees, the follow-up after meetings and sales, the continued sustaining of a brand's value that makes a brand strong. What use is a bottle of Dom Pérignon to me when I need help but can't reach anybody or receive an entirely different level of service compared to that before I handed over my money for their product. The brand experience should never end with the sale of a product or service. In fact, the sales transaction is only the initiation point of the relationship between seller and client. After that the client relationship enters into a different phase wherein the brand should remain consistent and continue to release the same emotional response at each point of contact. And so with branding it's as in real life. Relationships need intensive cultivation – especially after they've been embarked upon.


This article appeared in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here:

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Comments (1)

Andrea | 12.11.2013

You obviously never had real buffalo mozzarella. Please try it, and then use "bland" for things like cheddar.


René Allemann

René Allemann

Born in Zurich, René Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.

The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group