There are five key factors to consider when formulating your company’s interaction with its customers (marketing, sales, product, customer service/product support, and resale). By carefully considering these aspects in your business plan and business planning processes, you will be one step closer to successfully managing these areas of your business.
Marketing. If you consider the original meaning of the word, marketing literally meant ‘going to the market to buy or sell products/services.’ From that, we understand marketing to be a proactive step. If you are ‘going to the market to…’, you have to know the market (who, what, where? etc) you’re selling to and or buying from. Marketing is a tool for understanding the perceived needs and wants of the customer, ultimately selling your product and/or service to them. It’s the means whereby you portray your company, product and/or service’s value to your customers. Effective marketing will allow a company to identify, satisfy and maintain customers. All businesses, large and small, rely on marketing to grow their company.
Several types of marketing exist. Social marketing focuses on societal benefits of products or services. Online or digital marketing refers to that done via the internet such as email, blogs, Facebook, Google, etc.
Marketing answers the question, “What do I want my product/service to convey or be to the customer?” And, “How do I want to get that message across to the customer?”
Sales. Sales and marketing will often be sandwiched together for a few reasons. One, company’s pursue marketing strategies in order to generate more sales. Marketing creates buzz, or the desire for a product/service. In addition to marketing, several factors regarding the actual sale of the product/service must be considered. The customer’s buying experience, or how the product/service was sold to the customer, is important. You must decide what type of selling channels your company will employ – direct selling, online, storefront, etc.
The process of purchasing the item/service puts a lasting impression in the customer’s mind. This has to do with customer service. Several questions can and should be answered in this regard. One, ‘did everything go smoothly during the customer’s transaction?’ Two, ‘did the customer leave satisfied with the purchase?’
Additionally, regular monitoring of sales channels (online, storefront, etc.) is also important. Determination of sales percentages coming from each channel allows the marketing efforts to be adjusted. For example, if most of your sales are generated online, through the company website for example, greater resource allocation to online marketing may be a smart move.
Product. Obviously, the quality of the product is essential.But, product positioning makes all the difference. If you want to use the cheapest materials to keep costs to a minimum while marketing (or positioning) the product in the high end, high quality segment, you are likely to have many dissatisfied customers whose high expectations for quality and reliability were toppled.Had the cheaply made product been positioned properly, in the low cost/low quality segment, customers would have had lower expectations.If the product broke down, the customer may have thought, “Well, I payed a lot less for the item, I got some good use out of it and did not expect it to last as long as it did.”Much of your ‘customer interaction’ has to do with expectations.
One successful strategy but difficult to achieve is to make a product inexpensively, but market it in such a way that you convey your product as superior to that of competitors. This is often done by convincing consumers that ‘this product will make me run faster’ or ‘make me cool’. If the positioning is done well enough, the product could be priced much higher than competing products which may be of better quality.
Customer Service/Product Support. One of the best ways to establish a better position for your product or service is to have a level of customer service and support that customers actually talk to their friends about. If your product is not very reliable but your customer service and support is excellent, the strength of your overall business improves because most customers recognize and appreciate good customer service.
Make it a point that all of your staff have the customer’s interest at the forefront of their mind. Training your employees to always be thinking of ways to meet customer needs – whether that is answering questions, fixing a problem, helping the customer feel satisfied and happy – does not cost much to implement yet pays large dividends for the business and for employee satisfaction.
Ideally, there are two parts to address when interacting with a customer for product/service support: #1 fix the problem and #2 make sure the deeper issue of what caused is resolved.
Resale. In order for this last factor to be effective, the previous four much also be successfully implemented. With most large, successful businesses, the incremental growth of repeat customers is essential. Companies achieve repeat customers by positioning their product well, selling their products/services through the proper channels and offering stellar product and customer support
The five parts of customer interaction that we have identified are entirely interrelated. Without effective marketing, sales would not be maximized. Without a well-positioned product, factors such as ineffective marketing, less sales, poor customer service and product re-sale may result. By incorporating these aspects of customer interaction into your business plan and business planning processes, you will will be one step closer to successfully managing these areas of your business.