January 5, 2011

CRM & Customer Delight!

Growing companies must genuinely be paranoid about finding & cultivating customers, more so if you operate in B2B domain. It has been observed that in the absence of a structured Engagement Plan the customer interaction remains limited to order processing & receivables management with occasional meeting om Diwali/New Year greetings. That certainly results into situations in which the companies & the customers develop a long but cold relationship without the benefits of a close warm togetherness. A successful company must seek to have warm working relations with all their customers. A corporation must attempt to create an engaging dialogue with target consumers and stimulate their engagement with the brand. Therefore a corporation must strategize its engagements plan with the customer in order to have a healthy top line over longer period.

Reams of literature exist that stresses the need for focusing on the Consumer engagement & Delight in order to have financial profit from the enterprise. But what is the reality of the real market in India? How many consumer durables companies have a customer complaint/feedback button on their website? In the FMCG domain the scenario is no different. The E2E or B2B markets have different mechanisms to deal with negative feedback. No durable or FMCG company in India has a formulated Customer Grievance policy that could be set in motion in case of negative feedback & assist the executive to remedy the hurt/loss. What does it mean? All that ‘marketing talk’ on customer comes first are mere sham or myth? Check any company budget templates and try search the allocation &appropriation for complain redress?  Where is the marketing in India?

Another important misunderstanding about marketing in Indian context is about the relationship between Consumer engagement & consumer satisfaction. As per wiki,” Customer engagement has been discussed widely online; hundreds of pages have been written, published, read and commented upon. Numerous high-profile conferences, seminars and roundtables have either had CE as a primary theme or included papers on the topic. Customer engagement marketing places conversions into a longer term, more strategic context and is premised on the understanding that a simple focus on maximizing conversions can, in some circumstances, decrease the likelihood of repeat conversions. CE aims at long-term engagement, encouraging customer loyalty and advocacy through word-of-mouth.”

Customer Engagement in services is more critical than in the products because of the nature & ownership issues. Most Marketing managers focus more on satisfying the customers at the primary product level without strategizing the process of engagements. In a scenario of less importance to marketing in the deficit markets of India/ China nature most companies are confused in allocation of resources between Engagements & Satisfaction. Such a situation would mean the once you have a strategically great product, price & promotion you need not factor in the issues of engagements.

I have researched the problems with my client organizations and the market at large. The service companies must have a defined engagements policy that could maintain the consumer trust resulting in financial success for the corporation. Some of my recommendations are:

1.    Engaging consumer in pre, sale & post sale needs strategic stance.
2.    A satisfied customer can forget you so needs reminder
3.    A bad situation can be converted into a gain with the help of quality engagement.
4.    An engaged customer has more value than the satisfied only.
5.    Quantity & quality of the communication must be calibrated with a bias for quantity in deficit markets like India. 

Gurinder S. Ahluwalia

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