Last week, I found myself in a Twitter dialog about whether product and service were really two separate things. Many people view them as being completely separate. I am not so sure.
Where the two things connect, I think, is value. I've seen value defined many ways. One of the best and simplest is this: Value is what the customer will pay for.
So, would I pay as much for my car if the nearest place to get it serviced was 300 miles away? I don't think so. I think that the value of my car is based largely on its utility. (Of course there are other considerations as well, such as comfort, economy, features and more, but if I really can't use it, what good is it?) If I find myself with a broken gearbox or failed fuel injector 300 miles from the nearest repair shop, I've got a problem. The very same vehicle purchased in an area where there are 2 dealers within 50 miles, it seems to me, is literally worth more to me. In fact, I have not considered buying one particular brand of car (rated one of the two or three best in the world by most standards) for this exact reason. There's not a dealer anywhere within 200 miles.
The very same thing is true in many other areas: I buy coats and boots and many other items from a company with a great customer service record and a 100% guarantee because I know I'll get more out of what I buy--so I'm willing to pay a little extra. Well constructed, guaranteed items have a greater value.
Are there exceptions? Of course. If a service or product is unique, its value is increased even without any good customer service. If, for example, someone were to invent a car that never needed maintenance and never broke down or wore out, that car would have tremendous value even if the car maker didn't appear to care less about its customers. But in fact, the company would have built the service into the product. They've given their customers the best service of all.
Give it some thought.
Please Note: This blog will be moving to royatkinson.wordpress.com as part of my effort to use Google products and services as little as possible.