Ensuring and retaining customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction, customer delight, customer intimacy .... the
list goes on. Each term has a different emphasis, but the central core
is the "customer" and the importance of the customer to marketing.
There are many ways and techniques that can be adopted, to ensure
customer satisfaction delight and even intimacy. The purpose of this
article is to dwell on the practical aspects of customer delight (how),
rather than the theoretical aspects.
Irrespective of the type of industry (FMCG, Service etc.) size of
organisation and the scope of activities of an organisation, we can
generalise the "specific" expectations of customers. Customers are
'paying customer. Therefore, an organisation has no right to survive or
even thrive, without providing the needs of the paying customer.
Customer require to be treated as "special". To feel that they are
cared for in an "extra" special way.
Consistency in the level of service provided, is another requirement
of customers. Customers hate being afforded "variable" service levels.
Customers are conscious of privacy and it pays to respect this need.
It is often something customers really value.
Continuous value in the products and services offered, is a modern
day customer requirement. In fact, customers are demanding that 'value
be recreated' by marketers on a continuous basis.
In many instances customers do not really know or are not certain,
about what they really need. In such circumstances, marketers are
expected to clarify as well as satisfy the needs.
A customer need often not recognised is feedback. Customers should
and require a practical mechanism to provide feedback on the 'exchange
encounter'. Feedback is critical to the marketer as well.
Arising from this point customers need acknowledgement and action as
far as their feedback is concerned. Nothing irritates a customer more
than silence from a marketer! Silence is not golden in this instance.
Practical insights on providing customer delight
Customers expect courteous and attentive treatment from marketers.
After all they deserve it - they are nothing but the paying customer,
that provides the wages for those who serve them.
Customers expect to be dealt first and the circumstance second. In
other words, emotional aspects should be given priority over practical
Theory is one thing, application of same, is something altogether
different. There are many theories on how to understand customers, care
for customers, maintain relationships with customers etc. However the
practical reality is quite different.
Make a sincere and concerted effort to understand the needs of
customers. This is easier said than done. Empathy is the essential
ingredient. (Get into the customers shoes often).
Be committed to serving customers, to the best of your ability.
"Nothing but the best" is the motto, you should live by. No matter what
time of the day, day of the week, service to the customer comes above
Truly and passionately, love your customers. Treat them as partners
and not annoyances of your business.To be passionate about customers is
not easy. As in the case of any relationship, you will face the upside
Respond to customer enquiries, queries and proposals, speedily. Speed
is key for two reasons, emotional and functional.
Emotionally a customer is happy to receive a quick response.
Functionally a performance aspect is involved.
Try and cultivate a true friendship with your customers. In order to
develop a genuine friendship, be open to suggestions, criticisms and
comments. Honesty and openness are key ingredients, in cultivating
Innovate your business processes continuously, in order to deliver
superior value to customers. As stated earlier, it is the ability to
'add' value that results in customer satisfaction and loyalty.
One method of innovating is through the value chain. The value chain
will highlight your capabilities, competencies and assets. Based on the
analysis, be bold enough to innovate your primary business processes in
order to delight customers.
Learn the art of saying 'No' to a customer in a manner that retains
the relationship that has been built. It is not always possible to say
'yes' to customers in an objective manner.
The importance of 'internal marketing'
Pay regular visits to your customer's offices, factories etc. This
helps you to understand the true 'chemistry' and culture of your
customer or customer organisation. Further, it provides opportunities
for both formal and informal interactions.
Make your customers, your best ambassadors. Let your customers speak
for you. This is the most powerful endorsement and it is important to
strive towards same. Respect your customers' wishes, right for privacy
etc. After all, you like to be treated with respect and dignity. Then
why not your customers?
Marketing starts at home! In order to satisfy and delight external
customers, employees (internal customers) must have the right
orientation, training and motivation. In addition to employees in
marketing, other functional employees too need to have a 'customer
focus', in carrying out their jobs.
Internal marketing was originally thought to be of importance in
service marketing and for contact employees.
However, the concept has now been extended to cover all types of
marketing and non-contact employees as well. This clearly demonstrates
the practical relevance of the concept, towards marketing effectiveness.
You cannot expect a demotivated, untrained employee to strive to
provide the level of service excellence required to 'delight' customers.
A pre-requisite is that the employee is delighted to work for his/her
organisation. This is only possible if the right organisational culture
is prevalent, where employees are continuously motivated, trained and
As marketing guru Philip Kotler states, "you must hire the right
people, train and motivate them, in order to delight customers.