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LISTENING TO

CUSTOMERS
THROUGH RESEARCH
American Marketing Association defines
marketing
research as:
‘ Marketing research is a function that links the
consumer, customer ,and public to the marketer through
information – information used to identify and define
marketing opportunities and problems ; generate
,refine ,and evaluate marketing actions; monitor
marketing performance ; and improve understanding of
marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the
information required to address these issues, designs the
method of collecting information ,manages and
implements the data collecting process ,and analyses and
communicates the findings and their implications.’
SCOPE OF MARKETING
RESEARCH
Scope of marketing research extends across the
following domains:
• Sales Analysis- Measurement of market potential, Market
share estimation
• Sales Method and Policies- Evaluating alternative ways of
reaching the consumers ,Effectiveness of direct selling
• Service Product Management- Consumer preferences,
service options
• Processes Measurement- Alteration in delivery process
• Pricing related research- Prices of various services, what
would be the impact of changing the prices?
Promotion- Combination of techniques to
be used, most effective technique.
Physical evidence- To explore moments
of truth for the consumer, Which areas of
service delivery location need to be
improved?
Marketing Research firms in
India
In India, marketing research has grown by 16 % in the
past years and had crossed the $100 million mark in
2007.
Out of the total market of $23 billion worldwide, $100
million worth of business is in India.
The active areas where a lot of research is being
undertaken are:
 Pharmaceuticals
 Media
 Financial Services
 Automobile industry
Elements In An Effective
Services Marketing
Research Program
Complaint Solicitation- Good service organizations take
complaints seriously. Not only do they listen to
complaints- they also seek complaints as communications
about what can be done to improve their service and their
service employees .
Critical Incidents Studies or techniques (CIT)- A
qualitative interview procedure in which customers are
asked to provide verbatim stories about satisfying and
dissatisfying service encounters they have experienced .
Requirements Research- It involves identifying the
benefits and attributes that customers expect in a service.
This type of a research is very basic and essential because
it determines the type of questions that will be asked in
surveys and ultimately the improvements that will be
attempted by the firm.
e.g. structured brainstorming – a technique developed
by researchers in IBM’s advance business systems unit. In
this technique a sample of customers and potential
customers is assembled .A facilitator leads the group
through a series of exercises on creativity and then asks
the customers to describe the ideal service.
• Another approach is to examine existing research in
similar service industry.
Trailer calls or post transaction Survey- Customers
are asked a short list of questions immediately after a
particular transaction ( hence the name trailer calls)
about their satisfaction with the transaction and contact
personnel with whom they interacted. Because the
surveys are administered continuously to a broad
spectrum of customers , they are more effective than
compliant solicitation ( Where the information comes only
from dissatisfied customers). e.g. Rent-a- car
This method also serves as an incentive for employees to
provide better services because they understand how
they are being evaluated.
Service Expectation Meetings and
Reviews- It is conducted generally in B2B
situations where large accounts are
involved ,in this method the senior members
of the account team meet the customers and
listen to their expectations regarding the
service. It is done usually at a specified time
in a year and then a follow up is done so as to
determine whether the expectations were
fulfilled.
After getting the inputs the account team
members prepare a plan and discuss the plan
with the customer.
Process checkpoint evaluations- When services
are provided over a long period (e.g. consulting ,
construction and architecture) and there are not
obvious ways or times to collect customer
information. Waiting until the entire project is
complete is undesirable because during the delivery
of the service unresolvable problems could have
occurred. In these situations , the smart service
provider defines a process for delivering the services
and then structures the feedback around the process,
checking in at frequent points to ensure that the
clients expectations are being met.
Mystery shopping- In this form of research , which
is unique to services. Companies hire outside
research organizations to send people in to service
establishments and experience the service as if they
were the customers.
These “Mystery Shoppers” are trained in the criteria
important to customers of the establishment . They
deliver objective assessments about service
performances by completing questionnaires about
service standards. Questionnaires contain items that
represent important quality or service issues to
customers.
Mystery shoppers keep the employees on
their toes because they know they may be
evaluated at anytime.
Mystery shopping can be a very effective
way of reinforcing service standards.
Customer panels- These are on going
groups of customers assembled to provide
attitudes and perceptions about a service
over time. They offer a company regular and
timely customer information- virtually a pulse
on the market. Firms can use customer
panels to represent large segments of end
customers.
Customer panels are used in the
entertainment industry to screen movies
before they are released to the public.
Lost customer research – This type of research involves
deliberately seeking customers who have dropped the
company's service to inquire about their reasons for leaving .
Some lost customer research is similar to exit interviews with
employees in that it asks open – ended in-depth questions to
explore the reasons for defection and the particular events
that lead to dissatisfaction.
One benefit of this type of research is that it identifies failure
points and common problems in the service and can help
establish a early warning system for future .
Future expectations research- It is new and
includes different types.
First, features research involves environmental
scanning and querying of customers about
desirable features of possible services .
Second, lead user research brings in customers
who are opinion leaders/innovators and ask them
what requirements are not currently being met by
existing services.
UPWARD
COMMUNICATION
Objective of upward communication
Gaining firsthand knowledge about
customers
Improving internal service quality
Gaining firsthand knowledge of employees
Obtaining ideas for service improvement
Research for upward
communication
Executive visits to customers
Executive or management listening to
customers
Research on intermediate customers
Research on internal customers