This blog post was written by our guest blogger Mark Dengler, President of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).
Marketing is an ongoing effort within an organization. In our current economy, marketing innovation often trumps product/service technical innovation. What makes it tricky is the fickleness of consumers. In this world of rapid change and the continual need to create a customer experience (CX), companies often forget the fundamental task of continuously measuring existing customer expectations and satisfaction. Satisfaction is a key driver to loyalty and ultimately it is wiser to keep existing customers than having to continually secure new ones. However, satisfaction alone does not dictate repeat business. Rather, customers need to feel that their expectations are being met.
Ongoing market research among a sampling of customers is one of the best ways to monitor customer expectations. Customer research needs to involve both quantitative satisfaction measurement and qualitative expectation discussions. It is not only critical to keep your customers satisfied with your given product or service, but also to continuously exceed their expectations. Provide something of value that the customer did not expect. This is considered delivering an augmented product/service.
Examples of product or services providing an augmented benefit include the following:
- Purchasing a gas grill from your local home improvement store and having it pre-assembled and loaded into your vehicle.
- Purchasing pool supply chemicals and receiving a personalized instruction sheet tailored for your application.
- Scheduling a college advisor visit and receiving a text message reminding you of the appointment and on the day of the visit, being updated as to the timeliness of the advisor (e.g. running 15 minutes late).
Qualitative research such as focus groups, shop-alongs, and in-depth interviews (IDIs) provide insight regarding expectations. The augmented product needs to be something that the customer finds of value. Failures of augmented products are easy to identify – remember the 2001 Pontiac Aztek that offered a pop out camping tent option that attached to the hatch of the car?
It is important that companies do not just focus on the promotional aspect of marketing, but also look at the fulfillment component. Customer loyalty means greater revenue with less marketing dollar effort. By producing a product or service with augmented enhancements that exceed customer expectations, companies can stay ahead of the curve.
Unfortunately, augmented enhancements are quickly adopted by the competition and become expected, leaving companies in the position of having to continuously identify and offer new augmented enhancements that exceed customer expectations.
Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY that specializes in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer experience studies. If you are interested in conducting market research to define customer expectations contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.