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Personal Selling & Customer Focus

You are a salesperson for a small boutique shop, Studio Productions, specializing in print design, web design, motion graphics, DVD production, and presentations. Your company is located in an urban area where there is much competition in a dwindling economy.

The company consists of the original 2 owners/partners, 1 office manager, 1 project manager, 3 designers, 1 technical support person, and 3 salespeople. Although the company is small, they have been in business for over 10 years and have some key alliances. Some of the large advertising firms and public relations firms outsource work to your shop. Some of your projects are outsourced for: printing, slide production, high-end video edits, and illustration.

With the changes in the economy, the company has chosen to stay small in order to respond quickly, but revenues are continuing to drop, and repeat business is slowing considerably. More often, the owners are bartering services with alliances because liquid assets are unavailable. The 2 owners serve as artists/ designers, sometimes salespeople, and also attempt to lead marketing efforts, but without a strategic marketing plan.

Clients tend to be friends of the owners, one-person businesses, advertising agencies, large internationally recognized companies, and marketing or sales professionals in various industries.

In this small firm, many times salespeople and/or designers act as project managers, which takes them away from bringing in new business or working on projects. This has been a frustration for the sales people since they work on commission and they are not paid separately for managing projects. The designers also get frustrated when this happens, because they end up receiving creative direction from a sales person and not an art director/creative director. Also, when the designers end up project managing, their time is split and objectivity on the project may suffer, resulting in a less refined outcome.

To turn the company's business around, the company owner decided to boost sales. As a result, your responsibilities as a salesperson will be expanded to include: prospecting new business, servicing existing clients, keeping clients informed of project progression and listening to their feedback, communicating with internal staff regarding client projects, generating more business from existing clients, participating in networking/ business events to generate more contacts for building new business opportunities.

Task

The owners were impressed with your argument that good customer service equals more business. "Customer service" is now officially a salesperson's responsibility.

You've been "elected" by the other two salespeople to take the lead in getting everyone up to speed.

Think about how well Studio Productions has been at creating a successful customer service system (internally and externally). Develop a short presentation answering the following questions:

What are the 4 characteristics of a successful customer service system?

How could both internal and external customer service be improved at Studio Productions to affect customer satisfaction and loyalty?

What is a blueprint of customer service systems?

How can Studio Productions use a blueprint in creating successful customer service systems? What would be an example blueprint?

Solution Preview

Please see the response attached for complete response, including a diagram (some is presented below). I hope this helps and take care.

1. What are the 4 characteristics of a successful customer service system?

- Customer-oriented
- Effective
- Flexible
- Cost effective

2. How could both internal and external customer service be improved at Studio Productions to affect customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Lets refer to the scenario to see what fits (e.g. match expertise with job specifications is first and foremost; have the three salespersons, including yourself improve internal customers by: making internal experience memorable for the customer by providing relationship building through effective communication, high quality products, etc).

You research below to see what fits for this question:

1. Keep customer happy by personalizing services, asking what they need, and provide excellent service to meet the need) 2. Good service- what does it look like? Effective communication, ask the customer what they need, be friendly, meet their need with high expertise, etc.)

And so on... (Refer below to the first article, which I have analyzed information and highlighted potential information and for what question. The second article deals with effective communication, which is imperative to customer relations, and service building).

3. What is a blueprint of customer service systems?

A blueprint is a visual representation of the sequence of activities required for service delivery that show the front-stage elements, which are visible or apparent to customers, and the backstage elements and the links between them.

3. How can Studio Productions use a blueprint in creating successful customer service systems? What would be an example blueprint?

The model below is a good one and you can click in each square and add you own information. You will need to do more research, though, to see exactly what tasks are involved in Studio Production. I have never worked in a Studio Production company so do not know the exact steps involved. Using the Google search engine and the search words "Studio Production" is received thousands of "hits" so locating information probably won't be a problem. See http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp059.htm for once source discussing the exact steps that occur once inside the studio.
Some of the items will probably be similar as the model below: driving into the parking lot -> park vehicle -> enter the store - > (research what goes on in the Studio Productions once inside the store and continue adding to the process) -> leave store -> drive out of the parking lot.

Note: consider the information from the scenario above as well: specializing in print design, web design, motion graphics, DVD production, and presentations. What will these look like? What will the salespersons be doing? What steps to they take to sell the product? e.g. show the customer web designs available, etc. Add these steps in the above section, one you have determined the exact steps the salespersons will be taking in a Studio Production company.
Blueprint sample for a grocery store -

Research notes for utilization below:

The following information is for #2 and I have commented in red and bracketed the information for your consideration:

Happy Customers

One of the most important elements in creating a successful business is having happy, satisfied customers that keep coming back. Satisfied customers recommend your product or service to family, friends, and associates (Your Goal - and all your strategies are directed to this end!)

Word of mouth advertising

If you feel strongly about something, then you tend to speak about it more often, with more enthusiasm, to more people in wider circles. This is how word of mouth advertising works. Customers formulate a belief about a company's product/ service based on their experience and available information and knowledge. These beliefs lead to the formulation of an overall attitude about the company (stronger over time). Actions then begin to reflect this attitude. (How are you going to do this, as this is important? By doing the following things understanding customer by asking the right questions e.g., what can I do for you? Listen carefully to the customer's needs? Paraphrase to be sure you know what the customer really wants and be sure you are friendly and professional (effective communication to build customer relations). Get as much information about the needs of each customer and then meet the need with high quality products, etc.)

Understanding your customer

With all of the advances, shifts, and developments of the business world, one common goal throughout all of the changes remains the same: provide excellent service to your customers (this is for # 2 above). The customer, after all, is the primary reason a business exists and is able to become profitable. First, you must figure out what it takes to have satisfied customers, to retain and attain more satisfied customers in the future. (Good point! This is often done through customer surveys, interviewing customers, looking at the competition's research of customer satisfaction, etc.)

Providing good service

Providing good service may seem elementary, but being able to distinguish what good customer service is and how to consistently provide it can be a daunting task. Every customer is unique with different needs and different expectations (treat each individual customers unique, ask and listen to what they need, and meet these needs - effective communication is, thus, imperative). There are many questions to ask and areas to examine to develop a customer service system advantageous to both companies and their customers (good points to consider for #2 above. What do our customers want? What do they need to keep coming back, and to spread by word of mouth to other potential customers? Etc.).

Customer Sub-Groups

Companies would be wise to consider the different sub-groups of customers they have and how they differ in terms of types of purchase, cost of purchases, servicing needs, communication methods, total purchase transaction time, post-purchase needs, complaint issues, and others. Even more important to identify may be the commonalities between these same customers (good point #2 information; how will you do this? E.g., pay attention to your customer base, survey customers, ask them what is important to them, research competition and what they are doing that works, etc.), and the characteristics that seem to be present for most or all of them.

Analytical Dissection of a Company's Existing Customer Base

This type of analytical dissection of a company's existing customer base will allow for customer profiling (good point! Add this to the list in #2). Profiling is key to eventually understanding everything from how to best service the customer to delineating the best methods for marketing, selling, and retaining these customers ...

Solution Summary

Referring to the case scenario e.g. a successful customer service system, this solution expands on how both internal and external customer service could be improved at Studio Productions to affect customer satisfaction and loyalty, provides an example of a blueprint of customer service systems and how Studio Productions could use a blueprint in creating successful customer service systems.

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