Customer Satisfaction and Institutional Image
Improved customer satisfaction is rarely accomplished by means of a quick fix. Understanding the problem areas and discerning the expectations customers have is foundational. Likewise, identifying the perception gap between the customer and key employees is often a requirement, before addressing the pivotal issue of the confidence gap that often undermines the perceived value of the business.
Our approach which links customer satisfaction, to employee perceptions of customer satisfaction and then to the institution's corporate image, enables customer satisfaction to move from a defensive stance to an offensive posture. It will also involve greater focus given to what we label as relationship communication.
A strong Relationship Communication Program becomes the point in which the quality of service program moves into an offensive posture. The offensive posture begins with the strengthening of customer relationships through more proactive problem solving and an orientation of providing business solutions based on customer needs. The offensive posture is set in motion by harnessing the potential .... and the positives (based on motivational distinctives) associated with the client's Institutional Image and the Value of the Business, ..... from the customer perspective, .... while addressing the inconsistencies that tend to undermine these positives.
The relationship communication program therefore becomes the foundation for a coordinated customer satisfaction-supported image development program. The underlying wisdom behind a coordinated customer satisfaction, quality service and image development approach, is because institutional image simply is not credible when there are soft spots in customer satisfaction.
Relationship communication begins with the identification
and understanding of key attitudes and segments of a particular
customer base. The objective is to identify the communication
orientation that undergirds the ongoing stream of transactions
between "buyer and seller." This concept is based
on the analogy that the first sale usually serves to initiate
a courtship relationship between buyer and seller. The marriage
potentially follows. How well the marriage develops will
depend on how well the relationship is managed by the seller.
Our experience in this area enables us to provide the insights
needed to strengthen client relationships.
The fact is that the relationship between buyer and seller
seldom ends when the sale is made. Most organizations can
avoid many hassles and inefficiencies, while enhancing their
standing in the eyes of their customers by managing their
relationship with their customers. This will involve special
attention geared to what uniquely characterizes a specific
relationship. It will involve time. It considers the changing
character of assurances by which purchases are made.
Typically, the seller .... operating at a distance from
the buyer (a distance reflected by the level of understanding
of the buyer). reaches out with a sales department to unload
onto the buyer what the seller has decided to make and market.
But, by contrast, consider marketing as:
Here the seller, operating much closer to the buyer, penetrates
the buyer's domain to learn about the buyer needs, desires
and expectations, then designs and supplies what is needed
in forms to fit the need.
Over time, the potential for an interdependence develops.
That interdependence between buyer and seller is developed
through relationship communication programs that operate
at all levels throughout an organization. The interface
between buyer and seller is transformed into interdependence
through relationship development.
Understanding the institutional image an organization
projects to its customers and the market place is a matter
involving both the interaction between the customer and
those front line employees who interact with the customer.
It will bear significantly on customer satisfaction. It
will address specific principles that should be applied
to the approach needed to maximize your advantage and uniqueness
in the marketplace. Closely tied to the institutional image
is the matter of positioning.
Positioning is something of an in-house advertising term
that communicates who you are (to the customer) in
terms of the competitive advantage you offer (and communicate)
within the context of the market environment you work in.
It is important to understand that positioning involves
a place that you, as an institution, occupy in the minds
of your customers.
Positioning our clients to address the issue of closing
the CONFIDENCE GAP with a growing proportion of key customers.
Positioning will be based upon identified motivational distinctives
and appeals. This understanding will have as its goal the
strengthening of relationships. The strengthening of relationships
in turn will incorporate repositioning our client away from
any negative impressions held by customers and potential
customers, to creating the atmosphere and CONSISTENT MESSAGES
that engender top of mind awareness responses from the customer
that are consistent with a new customer service orientation
being promulgated from the top. In so doing, the insights
from this program will serve to increase the level of business
while increasing the strength of the cooperative, proactive
relationships with key customers.