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5/24/2011 2:40:04 PM EST
|Marketing ; more than selling and advertising
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Marketing provides the means by which the organisation or business projects itself to its audience, and also how it behaves and interacts in its market. It is essential therefore that the organisation's philosophy and values are referenced and reinforced by every aspect of marketing. In practical terms here are some of the areas and implications:
There are staffing and training implications especially in selling and marketing, because people are such a crucial aspect.
Your people are unlikely to have all the skills they need to help you implement a marketing plan. You may not have all the people that you need so you have to consider justifying and obtaining extra. Customer service is acutely sensitive to staffing and training. Are all your people aware of what your aims are? Do they know what their responsibilities are? How will you measure their performance? Many of these issues feed back into the business plan under human resources and training, where budgets need to be available to support the investment in these areas. People are the most important part of your organisation, and the success of your marketing activity will stand or fall dependent on how committed and capable your people are in performing their responsibilities. Invest in your people's development, and ensure that they understand and agree with where the organisation is aiming to go. If they do not, then you might want to reconsider where you are going.
Create a Customer Service Charter.
You should formulate a detailed Customer Service Charter, extending both your mission statement and your service offer, so as to inform staff and customers what your standards are. These standards can cover quite detailed aspects of your service, such as how many times the telephone will be permitted to ring until the caller is gets an answer. Other issues might include for example: How many days between receipt and response for written correspondence. These expectations must also be developed into agreed standards of performance for certain customers or customer groups - often called Service Level Agreements (SLA's). Increasingly, customers are interested to know more about the organisations' values and philosophy, which until recent times never featured in customer service charters or customer decision-making criteria. They do now.
Establish a complaints procedure and timescales for each stage.
This charter sets customer expectations, so be sure you can meet them. Customers get disappointed particularly when their expectations are not met, and when so many standards can be set at arbitrary levels, think of each one as a promise that you should keep.
Remember an important rule about customer service: It's not so much the failure to meet standards that causes major dissatisfaction among customers - everyone can make a mistake - the most upset is due to not being told in advance, not receiving any apology, not getting any explanation why, and not hearing what's going to be done to put things right.
Establish systems to measure customer service and staff performance.
These standards need to be absolutely measurable. You must keep measuring your performance against them, and preferably publishing the results, internally and externally.
Customer complaints handling is a key element.
Measuring customer complaints is crucial because they are a service provider's barometer. You need to have a scheme which encourages, not discourages, customers to complain. Some surveys have found that nine out of ten people do not complain to the provider when they feel dissatisfied. But every one of them will tell at least a couple of their friends or relations. It is imperative that you capture these complaints in order to:
Put at ease and give explanation or reassurance to the person complaining.
Reduce the chances of them complaining to someone else.
Monitor exactly how many dissatisfied customers you have and what the causes are, and that's even more important if you're failing to deliver your mission statement or service offer!
Take appropriate corrective action to prevent a recurrence.
Most organisations now have complaints 'escalation' procedures, whereby very dissatisfied customers can be handled by more senior staff. This principle needs extending as far as possible, especially to ensure that strategic intelligent complaints and constructive feedback (all immensely useful) are handled by someone in the organisation who has suitable strategic appreciation and authority to recognise and act appropriately.
Many organisations waste their most useful complaints and feedback by killing it dead at the initial customer service outer wall. Complaints and feedback are gold-dust. Encourage it and use it wisely.
There are implications for ICT, premises, and reporting systems.
Also relating to your business plan are the issues of Information and Communications Technology - are your computers and communications systems capable of giving you the information and analysis you need? What type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is most appropriate for your needs?
Premises - Have you got too little or too much space? Is it all being used to its best effect? Is the reception area designed well? What do your customers and personal callers think of the decor and the layout? If car-parking is difficult do you make any effort to warn people coming for the first time? Who needs to be based in an office and who is best based at home? These are complex issues which need addressing - don't just assume that things are okay as they are.
Reporting systems - It is said that if you can't measure it you can't manage it, and where finance and business performance is concerned that's certainly true. If there's an aspect of your service or performance that is important can you measure it?
How do you report on it and interpret the results? Who needs to know? Who needs to capture the data? When you get a new customer (for an ongoing transaction) do you ask how they heard of you and why they chose to give you a try?
Communications and ongoing customer feedback are essential.
Having an open dialogue with your customers is vital. There's a double benefit to your business in ensuring this happens:
You nip problems in the bud and stay aware of how you're performing.
Your customers feel better about the service you provide as a result of the communications, or from the fact that the channel is open even if they don't use it - it's human nature.
Try to devise a standard feedback form. It can double as a promotional tool as well if it's made available on a wider scale. The form can carry details of your mission statement, service offer and your customer service charter.
Thx for your time, hope it helped you a little on your way
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