Customer Care

Service of mankind will secure leadership.

(A Conceptual-Practical Roadmap towards Stable Customer Account)

Introduction

Business venture is an interactive phenomenon of interdependent individuals to attain financial benefits. The ultimate motive of a business venture or an entrepreneur is to earn profit, so that a successful business venture is evaluated on the basis of its economic returns. An economic return or profit is outcome of multiple factors such as effective entrepreneurship, efficient resource management, knowledge management, customer satisfaction, supportive government policies, and booming global conditions. These factors can be grouped into two categories – success factors & performance indicators. A success factor leads towards successful business, while a performance indicator leads towards better performance of a business. Success means profit and performance means profit level. The most inevitable success factor of a business venture is Business Location, while the vital performance indicator is Customer Care. A wrong selection of business location leads towards business closure and customer dissatisfaction means less demand or low return; the ultimate outcome of low return is business closure, too. Appropriate business location gives stability to entrepreneur, while a caring approach towards customers mean stable customer account or loyal customers. A suitable business location gives better start to a business and customer satisfaction gives long-run sustainability to a business. Moreover, a better selection of business location is helpful to meet supply constraints, while a sensible approach towards customer care is supportive to tackle demand pressures.

Customer Care has two dimensions – perceptual and practical. At practical level, it is careful behavior towards multiple needs of customers, while at perceptual level; it is helpful mindset towards multiple needs of customers. Customer satisfaction is ultimate achievement of a business venture. It provides sustained sales or reasonable return over a long period of time. The very bases of customer satisfaction are better production techniques and good distribution system. The twin strategies, efficient production & effective distribution, produces and delivers the product with zero defects and develops lifetime or loyal customers. It is noteworthy that the production contents or prices are generally equivalent for identical category of products or services in a competitive economy, so that, the dominant aspect of any customer care process is to enhance distributional ease for customers, technically speaking; it is application of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) model.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the process of taking care of customers before, during, and after the sale of a product or service. A caring process is started when a prospective customer hears and responds about some product or service, hopefully, it never ends. The final target is to create a Loyal Customer or to achieve Customer Loyalty. Ideally, customers should enjoy the process of buying / hiring as much as they enjoy use of product / service. In the real world this is very difficult. Business owners may not be able to remove the all hurdles that can get in the way of positive customer experiences, but they can be managed by implementing some psychosocial approaches towards customer’s expectations. A quality production, competitive price, friendly environ, accommodation of social norms of customers, correct information to customers are some necessary steps towards better customer care.

Good customer relations are not accidental outcomes of business life; rather good customer relations are outcome of good business processes, both operational as well as structural. The multiple institutional processes enhance the level of customer satisfaction, like having a set procedure for selling, the best after sale customer caring practices help and ensure that customers will remain satisfy throughout the process of buying and using. A satisfied customer is inevitable objective for business success, the prominent signs of satisfied customers are:

· Repeated buying interaction with the organization,

· Telling friends and colleagues about the advantages of dealing with and purchasing from the organization, &

· Giving appropriate feedback to organization from time to time.

Businesses flourish and develop on old & new customers. However, customer creation is a lengthy and complicated process. It is the process of winning both heart & mind. A product / service satisfy the emotional and perceptual aspects of customers. The whole institutional process is involved, directly or indirectly, towards better customer experience. A repeated customer is indication of satisfied customer. In order to maintain customer loyalty or repeat, a business provides a consistent buying experience to her customers. It is cost-effective, time-saving, and efforts-saving to satisfy an existing customer as compare to create some new customers. An empirical study calculated that an organization spends/needs five times additional resources to find a new customer against the cost to keep an existing customer.

Customer Decision Analysis

It is generally true that 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of customers. However, the total customer base is important. The small customer enriches the organization, generally, through proper feedback. The right approach is to differentiate the responsible customer from detractor. A detractor customer is unreliable, non-cooperative, and unreceptive and criticizes illogically and arrogantly due to some psychological / social leanings. A responsible customer is logical, conceptually, loyal, emotionally, and reliable, practically. Moreover, a business face, generally, two types of customers, we may call them trendsetters and trend-followers. A trendsetter is leader customer; he/she sets the tone and trend for market. The follower customer is affected, extremely, by trendsetters, he/she is influenced by snobbish / bandwagon effects. An entrepreneur can also set some trends for masses through some innovative marketing techniques. For example, Microsoft settled some new attitudes of public towards computer and software. A great number of transnational companies do it for their products and services such as McDonald, KFC, and Pepsi.

An item or service is bought due to multiple reasons such as utility, price, and social fads. Consumers in any market tend to select one product or service over another based on their perception of its value. Value, simply, is quality at some right price level. Quality also includes non-price attributes, such as product delivery system and customer service. A customer’s perception of right price is a composite of several factors such as need, facility, aesthetic, delivery procedure and price of alternatives. It is responsibility of management to make her product / service valuable for existing and prospective customers. A continuous and dynamic review of market situation is necessary to maintain comparative advantage. An innovative approach towards multiple marketing techniques / channels is necessary for persistent satisfactory buying experience.

A customer finds countless differentiated products in the market. There is, sometime, very little difference in content and price of the product or service. For example, customer has countless varieties of dresses to wear / houses to live / vehicles to travel. A competitive/differentiated situation can be managed through better delivery services and after sale services. Advertisement is supportive just to create one time experience; repetition is outcome of customer satisfaction. A customer leaves due to multiple reasons such as non-caring staff, product dissatisfaction, product price, and price of alternative products. The most important is non-caring attitude of staff towards customers. It is noteworthy that competitive environ or availability of differentiated products or services can change the customer mindset towards buying or purchasing at any time.

A Customer Value Analysis is used to evaluate basis of customer decision towards product/service; it gives concrete understanding of market-perceived quality profile – price profile. The proper understanding and utilization of customers’ valuation approach gives an edge over competitors and improves the market share of a business. It has three levels:

Basic / Expected: – At basic level customer needs are assessed and customer is expecting these basics from you. The basic needs of customers must be satisfied for the survival of business. It is important to note that the survival of business is not compulsory; it is an outcome of enterprise approach towards satisfaction of basic / expected requirements of customers. Expected / Basic requirements of customers are invisible, usually; they become visible when they are unfulfilled. For example, the very basis of a dress is to save the customer from environmental itchings and to give someone a reasonable look, a dress unable to satisfy the basic needs shall be failed.

Desired: – The customer desires something better but he is not expecting from you or others. A desired level of customer care is achieved by knowing unspoken customer preferences. The best and effective way to get awareness about hidden customer preferences is to talk with customers / expected customers about their unspoken wants / desires. The knowledge about desired preferences provides an opportunity to achieve higher level of customer satisfaction. It leads towards marked difference between you and your competitors because customer is getting it from you and not getting it from someone else, moreover, it provides a long-run comparative advantage due to informational edge. The process of knowing unspoken preferences is easy to state, however, painful to implement due to informational inefficiencies or personal prejudices. It is noteworthy that the comparative advantage may vanish any time due to some imitation or information leakage, the solution is continuous updating of changing preferences and better approach towards satisfaction of preferences.

Unanticipated: -These are discontinuous features of a business to create pleasant surprise among customers. Good customer care means happier customers and increased referrals. A pleasant surprise to customers is effective strategy for sale maximization. It is noteworthy that a good experience is propagated normally to 5 persons and bad experience is propagated generally to 20 persons. A pleasant surprise to customers from time to time can be opted as permanent strategy to achieve or maintain customer loyalty

Product Delivery Model

The product / service delivery system has far reaching affects on customer satisfaction and company’s market share. It must be based on customer friendly approach. A product/service delivery model has, generally, five vital components.

Environmental: – It is the physical set-up of the delivery system. It affects the aesthetics and psychological needs of customers. The friendly environment accommodates the social norms of customers, as well.

Interpersonal: – It is the interactive set-up of the delivery system. A relationship is a close partnership that evolves, steadily, through mutual cooperation, common goals, and reciprocal respect. A cordial interpersonal environment is necessary for satisfactory relationship with customers.

Procedural: – It includes waiting, guidance, documentation, etc. It must be easy to understand and simple to do. A proper setup for guidance on multiple procedures develops long-lasting relations with customers.

Financial: – It is the liquidity transfer set-up of the delivery system. The standard/legal norms of financial transaction are necessary to avoid some crises/mistrust. A liquidity transfers phenomenon is highly sensitive area of business realm, the whole institutional effort may collapse at final moments due to some non-cooperative or irrational or illegal measures of fund transfers.

Complaint Window: – The window facility is needed to improve the level of service of delivery process. The complaint window makes room for next and better experience for both, businesses and customers.

Entrepreneurship & Customer Care

An entrepreneur initiates, develops, and maintains a business. An effective entrepreneur reads the market situations, constantly, and responds it accordingly. A market change has multiple categorizations. The prominent changes are:

· Real Vs Expected Changes,

· Short-lived Vs Permanent Changes,

· Normal Vs High Promising Changes.

A wise entrepreneur closely watches the situation and reacts with effective business techniques to reap the maximum benefits of changing market environ. A response to some real change need some concrete steps towards customer care process, e.g., demographic shift is a real change, while an expected change demands a robust analysis of expectations for some future outcomes. A well-organized preparation to meet some real or expected changes is necessary aspect of a visionary entrepreneur. A short-lived change can be managed through some short-term measures or some operational changes in business process, while a permanent change demands some long-term measures or some structural changes in business process. The accurate understanding of temporal phenomena of change is essential aspect of dynamic entrepreneur. Normal changes brings normal profit to a business, a normal response is enough to mange it, on the other hand, high promising changes bring windfall profit for business, consequently, an innovative response is required to reap wind-fall profit. An innovative response has some risky aspects, too, but, at the same time, it is inevitable for higher and better returns. A stable and successful response to normal or high-promising changes is essential aspect of an innovative entrepreneur. It is noteworthy that customers forget very soon an entrepreneur who is neglectful towards customers’ changing preferences or market situations. A visionary, dynamic, and innovative approach towards change is inevitable aspect of effective entrepreneurship.

Final Remarks

Begin your Customer Care efforts by focusing first on what matters most to customers, consequently you would be able to see measurable results within few weeks/days. The key towards successful implementation of Customer Care process is to understand consumer preferences accurately, to estimate consumer preferences precisely, and finally to respond on customer preferences appropriately.

We are living in information age; information about something is easily available to everyone due to multiple information channels, consequently, customers have fairly good information about products and services due to print and electronic media. In addition, computer / internet has attained inevitable factor during some day to day customer experiences, for example, ATM service is necessary for normal banking. A business can implement customized software for better and quick dealing experience. Application of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software involves many applications that merge back-office operations and databases with front-line customer interaction. It enables the business to provide correct and timely information to customers, answer their questions, and take care of their needs as early as possible.

Business success and sustainability is outcome of stable customer account. A customer is real asset of an organization. It is base and foundation of every accounting asset, both tangible and intangible. The decisive difference between customer account and other business accounts is presence of heart & mind with former, a customer have some emotional leanings and rational expectations. An accounting approach towards stable customer account may lead towards some wrong business practices. A humanistic approach towards customers is essential for successful implementation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Modal.