A more customer oriented business

A more customer oriented business

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Silk & Soft Srl is a family-owned company whose field of activity is the catalog retail sales of silk textures including a home delivery service. Since it was found, in 2002, the company succeeded to form a network of devoted customers by constantly sending its product catalogues directly through mail and also offering highly qualitative materials imported mainly from Asian countries (China, India, Malaysia etc.).
During the first year, the business has proved to be quite profitable because of the limited number of employees and the low level of competition on the silk textures market in Romania. Starting with the year 2003, it was noticed that the sales began to decline due mainly to the entrance on the market of powerful retail chains, better said, hypermarkets that were selling silk textures as well at a lower price. In the situation of the stores, the customer had the chance to see the product and buy it at once.
Taking into account the above presented evolution of the market, our company decided to switch from its traditional marketing strategy to a more customer driven process. Due to this, the Marketing Coordinator thought at that moment a more customer-oriented activity was needed. Such an activity could be achieved through increasing the number of employees and their involvement in providing a superior service to the customers.
Employee knowledge and involvement were considered an important component of our marketing strategy and included the following actions to be taken:
•     Take more care of customers. Sending catalogues by mail proved not being enough to develop our business. Thus, now the employees have to constantly talk to our customers and visit them. All salaried employees at our firm, including top management, are required to take a minimum of 50 phone orders each year. They have the duty to make customers feel important and appreciated by using their name and finding ways to compliment them, and taking into consideration that it is important to be sincere. All employees have also to think about ways to generate good feelings knowing that the customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. They also have to thank the customers every time they get a chance.
•     Keep the loyal customers. The employees have to develop "loyalty" programs where customers are rewarded for their fidelity. Such a program can include price discounts or gifts consisting in free silk textures on special occasions, such as birthdays, season holidays, weddings etc.

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, ways that our competitors can't easily copy
•     Check out the competitors. Employees have to visit weekly the stores and check the prices and the quality of the similar products, even buying some samples to be studied later on. A group discussion is held periodically where everyone talks about their opinions regarding the competitors’ strategies and grades them on product quality and customer service.
•     Get and share regular customer feedback. There are several ways to find out what customers think and feel about our services: listen carefully to what they say; check back regularly to see how things are going; and provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions. Moreover, every month, each staff member receives a list of the top ten customer comments – both good and bad. This way, employees can see the whole picture and recognize areas where they have excelled and where they need improvement. Suggestions about how you could improve are encouraged and welcomed.

Three months later, after this program was implemented an obvious increase in the number of customers and sales volume was observed. Also, a number of old lost customers returned demonstrating that no matter what you are selling you have to pay great attention to the needs of customers. Once you have attracted them, you have to do everything to keep them and to ensure their satisfaction as customer satisfaction is a critical condition for building long-lasting relationships. We conclude that the fundamental premise of the marketing concept is to focus all organizational efforts on providing superior customer service in order to retain existing customers and attract new ones. This represents the essence of our customer driven business strategy.
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