It's a common bragging point for service businesses that their service is better than their competitors. And it's just as common for marketers to complain about such 'value' propositions. They say that service is not a differentiator and that no one buys on service. Instead, there must be some differentiation or value in the product or result. In this sense, marketers says that the quality must be paramount. So, which really is better? It's been my experience that service is much more important than traditionally conceived by marketers. Many clients cite their current vendor's service level as being the most important factor for keeping them around. And I think this is the important factor: current clients. Clients seem to value service over quality for the current vendors and quality over service for their new vendors. This means two important things. First of all, high service is the easiest way to retain a client. Second of all, offering high service to a prospective client is not going to work because of a twofold problem: you can't compete with the current vendor on service because you're on a different playing field and the current vendor's service is being compared to your quality. So, how to compete with an established vendor with good service? We will tackle that next time.