The service‐enabled customer experience: a jump‐start to competitive advantage

Anees Gopalani (Associate Partner at IBM Global Business Services, Colorado, USA)
Kevin Shick (Senior Managing Consultant, at IBM Global Business Services, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Publication date: 3 May 2011



Today, almost all manufacturers provide after sales support services. But these services are usually the same across all of a company's product segments, and warranty terms and product support services are typically the same across the industry. Executives believe that if they invest in upgrading services, competitors would follow and eventually customers would no longer see differentiation or value, while the firm is left with higher costs. As such, service operation is not considered strategic to company.


The article defines what is meant by service enabled customer experience. Each of the six stages of customer buying processes – demand generation, browse and research, configure and quote, shop and transact, fulfill and support, and optimize experience are examined to assess services role – and their effects on loyalty and advocacy are examined. A case study and lessons learned form implementing Service Enabled Customer Experience (SECE) are provided.


Manufacturers have an opportunity to break free of the cycle of low customer loyalty and low margins by pursuing a Service Enabled Customer Experience strategy. This approach has been shown to increase customer loyalty and advocacy, ultimately increasing market share. Implementing Service Enabled Customer Experience strategy requires a shift in how services are viewed by the organization. But for those willing to make the commitment, the rewards are significant.


A well designed service program, targeted to the right segments and tightly integrated with the firms' operations can differentiate a brand, increase loyalty and provide a lasting competitive advantage.



Gopalani, A. and Shick, K. (2011), "The service‐enabled customer experience: a jump‐start to competitive advantage", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 4-12.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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