Friday, August 17, 2007

An organizational customer centric approach to marketing planning can cultivate customers as loyal and satisfied as a Labrador puppy with a full belly. The bottom line is achieving high levels of customer satisfaction.

All marketing is focused on the customer’s, and no where is this more true than in services. Marketing planners should focus on bringing consistency to the backstage portion of a service (or exchange) that makes no difference to the target market, and provide an individualized service experience front stage based on the things that do matter to customers. Two caveats; first this requires balancing the effectiveness of the individualization against efficiency constraints. Many firms overcome this by focusing on market segments that are large enough to be economically feasible, but who also share desired attributes in a good or service.

The second caveat is that this approach requires have intimate, local knowledge of consumers needs, habits, and purchase patterns. Modern technologies allows us to measure shopping variations across shopping nations and neighborhoods, but only marketers are in a position to manage the marketing mix (4C’s) to make these micro and macro adjustments to meet customer’s needs.

Thus we end where we began. Marketing planning starts with understanding our wants and constraints, and in services this impacts what aspects of the service can be homogenized backstage, and what portions should feel economized on the front stage. Customer loyalty can increase market share, improve profit margins, and even lower cost by decreasing the amount of money invested in replacing lost customers (clients or students).

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