Service companies shouldn’t worry about teaching their customers too much.
Companies that provide professional services have not always been eager to invest in customer education initiatives. For such companies, it has remained unclear what economic benefit they would gain by providing customers with the skills and abilities needed to become more knowledgeable customers. In fact, conventional wisdom in professional services industries holds that teaching customers the “tricks of the trade” does not pay; improving the service expertise of customers is thought to help them shop around for better alternatives and increase their likelihood of switching.A recent study we conducted shows just the opposite. We surveyed more than 1,200 retail clients of Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty Ltd., a financial services company based in Melbourne, Australia. We then used that data to examine the multifaceted impact of customer education initiatives on the relationship between service quality and trust. Our findings show that there are considerable advantages that result from improving customers’ service knowledge. (The complete study is contained in “Perceived Service Quality and Customer Trust: Does Enhancing Customers’ Service Knowledge Matter?”; that paper was published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Service Research.)