The purpose of this Study is to provide an opportunity to apply core concepts and to conduct an in-depth study on the topic, and ultimately, to enhance the Customer Management Implementation by number of ways. It can be made possible after analyzing and evaluating the processes and practices of the company and then discussing all pros and cons.
Customer satisfaction and customer expectations are met by Customer Relationship Management by the mean of building good terms with the customers (Customer Management, 2009).
A company stands on the values and preferences of its customers. If customers are not happy with the company for some reason, it is quite obvious that someday, customer will quit using company’s product for sure.
Realizing the importance of customers, implementation of Customer Management is taken very seriously these days. Customer Management refers to the activities that a company performs to manage its day-to-day interaction with the customers. Customer management ensures customer value. Customer value refers to the surplus that is basically a difference between what does a customer pay and what in return, he gets (Customer Value, n.d). Such surplus adds value and this way, sale continues to grow.
Customer insight refers to the information, with which a company executes development and customer retention plans and it also ensures convention to evaluate the practices in ways that enhance customer satisfaction (Customer Insight, 2010).
Customer strategy is followed to ensure the success in retaining the customers and in managing them in the best possible manner (Rogers, 2005). All companies must design and follow certain strategies to not only acquire new customers, but also to retain them (Rosenbleeth, Dallas-Feeney, Simmerman, & Casey, 2002, p. 3).
Background of ABC.com
ABC.com is an online store over internet. It is basically a wholesale group that purchases fine products from all over the world at cheap rates and run marketing campaigns to get these sold. Thousands of products can easily be viewed over the official website of ABC.com. Visitors feel happy to shop with ABC.com as it provides reasonable discount to its customers as well. Shipment is made free for almost 80% of the products that not only retains the existing customers, but also acquires new customers. 24/7 online support ensures solving customer queries right on the spot.
My Role and Job Description
I serve as an online Customer Care Officer at ABC.com. My responsibilities are:
- To execute online sales through stock availability management
- To plan, schedule and execute merchandising content on the website
- Establish and manage process to identify key product and shopping trends from our own websites, consumer behavior and market trends.
- Take ownership for all aspects of product presentation imaging, descriptions, layout and refine these to maximize profit.
Involvement of Customer Management Implementation in my Job Responsibilities
- While executing online sales, it is quite important to check the stock availability before confirming any order. In cases, where an agent books an order without finding out the stock status and for some reason, company fails to arrange that particular product in specified span of time or for some reason, a product is out of stock and new stock is quite expensive, customer can suffer due to agent’s carelessness. Such mistake can either cause loss to the company or to the customer. In 80% cases, customer is the one to suffer as company only apologizes and hardly tends to bear losses for the sake of false commitment made by any of its representatives. However, agent can be penalized. Such incidents ultimately result in customer dissatisfaction and disappointment. This way, customers mostly discontinue using company products and they begin to look for other options.
- To please customers and to retain them, it is of significant importance to plan, schedule and execute merchandising content on the website. If frequent modifications, additions or subtractions are made on regular basis, customers do not complain and continue to make transactions without any question.
- Once, a company identifies its key product and shopping trend from its websites, it helps in going with the flow and it further reacts according to the consumer behavior and market trends. This helps in meeting customer requirements and attaining customer satisfaction.
- Taking ownership always brings positive results and contributes in company growth. However, manual maintenance and modifications waste a lot of time and this prevents agents from coming up with all required product presentation imaging, descriptions and layout, etc.
Current Practices of Customer Management Implementation
- I am an online agent and have noticed numerous flaws in looking at the warehouse status. Specially, in peak seasons, we receive many orders simultaneously; this creates confusion when agents are more than one while taking online orders at a time. Even when a single agent is taking orders then also misunderstandings take place. In many cases, it becomes impossible to contact the warehouse due to odd timings or any other reason. This creates problem in updating the exact status. Emails sent by warehouse managers are sometimes not as real as in many cases; managers of sales and service centers take products from warehouse for the sake of direct sale or replacement. This may happen after the daily email status time. Such incidents create problems in communicating the exact status with the customers and it may cause delay in delivery or may also result in something inappropriate.
- As my company is cost effective, it never spends on expensive systems and programs. This strategy has put extra load on the online agents. Workload and manual planning, scheduling, and executing merchandising contents on the website create a few errors and mistakes in reflecting the exact scenario and status of the warehouse. This creates a few mistakes. Every 20th visitor faces problem and we apologize.
- Being already occupied in manual maintenance, etc, it becomes impossible for the agents to properly establish and manage the processes to identify the key products and shopping trends from our own websites, consumer behavior and market trends. However, managers tend to conduct quarterly analysis, but procedures are not systematically executed so create problems.
- Due to time constraint, it has become a fantasy to regularly take ownership for all aspects of the product presentation imaging, descriptions, layout and refining these to maximize profit.
Suggestions and Conclusions
ABC.com has been operating since years, but it still needs to look into the ways to enhance customer value. It needs to evaluate what customer receives in return of his money. Customers of ABC.com purchase for the sake of discount, this could be a threat to the company as the day they will find any other website offering competitive prices and automated services, and they are expected not to give it a second thought to switch to such options. ABC.com has an edge over its competitors just because of its low prices. ABC.com is not competitive in terms of advance systems therefore it creates problems and inconvenience at number of places. To enhance customer value, one must pay proper attention to synchronize procedures that are error-free, efficient, smart and effective. Smart and effective systems reduce the time consumed doing tasks manually. This way, agents can better serve the visitors. Information Technology has brought numerous positive changes in every field. Innovations and other blessings of Information Technology have changed the world so as the e-commerce. Several programs and tools have made life quite easier than past days. Market is growing day by day and to compete these days, is such a big challenge. Customers are so pampered by the effective Customer Management systems of other competitors that they do not really have time to face inconvenience due to manual operations.
Customers desire everything to be automated. Sending an email or chatting online to place an order consume a lot of time. They need to wait in order to reply as many times, it is not possible to serve so many customers together. This, somehow, creates errors, misunderstandings and inconveniences, not only for the customers, but also for the online support team. On the other hand, if customers are given their login credentials and a control panel, they can use advance search feature not only to view the details of desired products, but also to check its availability status (auto updated direct from the warehouse). Customers can then choose quantity and can place order accordingly. At present, customers are sent a payment link to pay via PayPal only. PayPal is not convenient for many of the customers. This is another problem and this can be reason to diminish customer value. Payment link is sent to the customer, once an online agent reviews customer’s order, check that specific item in stock, reserve it for customer, send payment link to the customer and then a follow-up (email based). On the other hand, if it is made automated and if a few more payment options including Visa, Master and Moneybookers are added, it would become easier to acquire new customers as PayPal does not really operate in all the countries. Many customers who find our website using search engines like Google, try placing orders, but after enquiring and wasting a lot of time in searching their required product, they leave our site because of the payment method. If a few more payment options are introduced, company will surely receive new relationships and would also strengthen existing relationships.
This way, after customers search their required product, they can check the current availability and then can select any of the available payment option to make the payment. Once the payment is made, account department can verify and a courtesy call can be made to the customer in order to acknowledge and then instruction to deliver the product at the shipping address can be forwarded to the concerned department. On each order placement, an automated email with all entered details should be sent to the customer on his specified email address to cross check if the details are correct. It should be made clear in the email that in case change is required, customers must contact on the given numbers. This process will also reduce the TAT of the entire process from finding as appropriate product until it’s being delivered at customer’s doorstep.
However, 24/7 chatting option and hot-line support will always be there in case of any help is needed. By implementing such management system, customer value can surely be enhanced. Inspiring customers is very important in adding customer value. For any organization, it is very important to pay adequate attention on the consumer behavior and market trends. Consumer trend in the case of ABC.com indicates that customers seem satisfied with the products, prices, shipment and a few other features, but are totally annoyed because of the manual system that is quite time-consuming. They also get frustrated due to the limited payment options. Company needs to come up with innovative collaborations with Visa, Master, Moneybookers and a few more. Such collaborations are based on mutual benefits. ABC.com can offer discount to the users of Visa, Master, Moneybookers or any other services. Market trends also indicate the competitors who are coming up with better automated, innovative and advanced options. Customers can be retained and acquisition of new customer can become possible if customers are offered good products at fewer prices with easy procedures. This increases customer value that ultimately increases company’s revenue.
Since the company has been performing well and is considered a profitable organization, no one really paid attention to bring any change in any of the departments and also not in the policies, procedures and infrastructure. Company, however, notices complaints and errors during audit sessions or general review sessions. Such review sessions are not executed on regular basis so here is a question mark again. At first sight, nothing looks inappropriate but after a few thorough reviews, it gets quite clear that a few areas of the company including policies and procedures need to be modernized and need to be smart enough. New systems are to be introduced and employees are to be sent on time to time trainings to retain customers and also to acquire new customers. It can become possible if employees are trained enough to emphasize on customer value. Little carelessness can result in losing a customer. This fact should be taken seriously and customers should be taken special care of. It is of vital importance to not only acquire smart systems, but to also educate employees that customers are important for the company.
As ABC.com does not have Quality Assurance department, agents, sometimes, take customers little lightly. It could be due to the workload or may be because of some other reason, but this practice has been noticed. This way, a lot of customers switched to other brands, out of which fewer are ever expensive than ABC.com. This indicates that service level agreement is quite important and people sometimes, do not even care for money when it comes to save time or to be treated well. Losing customers gradually is not a good or satisfactory sign, therefore, it should be taken seriously and Quality Assurance department should also be designed to take care of escalated issues. Quality Assurance (QA) mostly takes care of the complaints and acknowledges the complaint raiser to resolve the query. It has been noticed in numerous organizations that Quality Assurance (QA) tries to clarify things to the customer through arguments and pose to defend the companies or they tend to issue warnings to the agents who are responsible for such complaints.
In majority cases, issues are not taken as an opportunity to actually diagnose the system flaws. To avoid many problems, it is important to have proper system to be maintained not only by the online agent, but also by the warehouse officer. No casual or manual hand-to-hand delivery of any product without updating the system should be made possible. Every single addition or subtraction of product is to be properly updated in the synchronized system. A system should be so efficient that it should not accept any order and should not confirm any receipt until and unless it matches the actual status of warehouse availability. Customer should be able to view the exact status of products if available. This way, no false commitment will be made; therefore, customers won’t be frustrated. Another important recommendation is to add several payment options as at present, company only offers PayPal as the payment option. PayPal is not convenient for many visitors; therefore, new payment options should be added to the websites.
Customer Insight. (2010). Web.
Customer Management. (2009). Web.
Customer Value. (n.d). Web.
Rogers, M. (2005). Observations from the Trenches. Customer Strategy , 69 (4), 262-263.
Rosenbleeth, M., Dallas-Feeney, C., Simmerman, S. S., & Casey, T. (2002). Capturing Value Through Customer Strategy. Web.