Once benchmarks are established, the Marketing Manager should use these to help develop advertising objectives and strategies, etc., using the Advertising Objectives-Strategies Worksheet Template:
Target Market(s) and Segments
MT1000-2 ADVERTISING OBJECTIVES-STRATEGIES WORKSHEET also includes a separate Advertising Budget Worksheet and Notes section. The Marketing Manager should develop the set benchmarks (without internal benchmarks, the Marketing Manager should look for industry benchmarks). Advertising benchmarks should include, at a minimum: which media were used, the target market(s) for the ad, the cost of the ad, the number of leads generated by the ad, the number of sales the ad generated, and the goals for each ad.
The Marketing Manager should formalize the Advertising Plan in accordance with MT1000-3 ADVERTISING PLAN. The Advertising Plan Template should:
Contain an executive summary or overview of the Plan;
Concisely explain the message to be conveyed;
State the advertising goals and objectives;
Identify advertising media the company will use, such as the Internet, direct mail, trade shows, etc.;
List the schedule and timing of advertising events;
List roles and responsibilities;
Set out the overall advertising budget for the coming year and budget guidelines/details for individual strategies; and
Describe how the Plan’s progress and effectiveness will be measured.
The Marketing Manager should review the Advertising Plan Template with key Department Managers (Departments that are impacted by the Plan, e.g., Sales, Production) to be sure the Plan is understood, to assure Departments buy into the Plan, and to make adjustments to the Plan, as needed. The Marketing Manager should then submit the MT1000-3 ADVERTISING PLAN to the CEO for approval. When advertisements do not yield expected results or whenever the company or the business environment undergoes a significant change, the Marketing Manager should revise the Advertising Plan.
The Marketing Manager should review existing advertising, using MT1000-1 ADVERTISING REVIEW WORKSHEET (SAMPLE) as a guide to developing a set of benchmarks (without internal benchmarks, the Marketing Manager should look for industry benchmarks). Advertising benchmarks on the Advertising Review Worksheet Template should include, at a minimum:
Which media were used;
The target market(s) for the ad;
The cost of the ad;
The number of leads generated by the ad;
The number of sales the ad generated; and
The goals for each ad.
The Marketing Manager should calculate the cost per lead and cost per sale; these are critical advertising benchmarks. Keep in mind the goal is to gain and focus the target market’s attention to generate measurable response and advance sales of the company’s products/services.
The Marketing Manager should list the schedule and timing of advertising events in the Advertising Schedule Template. MT1000-4 ADVERTISING SCHEDULE covers tasks such as developing ads, ads purchases, ad timing, and more. It is also important to mark major milestones on the schedule. Advertising Schedule/Timing should be a part of the entire Advertising Plan.
The Marketing Manager should review the Advertising Plan with key Department Managers (Departments that are impacted by the Plan, e.g., Sales, Production) to be sure the Plan is understood, to assure Departments buy into the Plan, and to make adjustments to the Plan, as needed. Prior to launching advertisements, the Marketing Manager should test their effectiveness on a small sample of the target market. It is generally advisable to test two advertisements against one another (“A/B testing”). The preferred advertisement in such a test may be modified (and retested) before it is launched.
The Sales Manager should complete the Competency Matrix Template by adding each staff members name across the top of the matrix, and then assigning a level of 0 (no skill or knowledge level) through 4 (instructor level skills) for two categories of an individual’s competency: the desired level of competency (D) and the actual level of competency (A). The Sales Manager can gather information to complete actual level of competency of the AD1050-1 COMPETENCY MATRIX through the following:
Surveys, questionnaires, and discussion with department members;
Demonstration of skills through job performance; and
The Sales Manager should review the Competency Matrix Template for all members of the sales department to identify areas of proficiency deficit by members of the sales department, according to position and responsibility. As the Sales Manager completes a new AD1050-1 COMPETENCY MATRIX, he or she should compare it to matrices of previous years to ensure progress in achieving desired competency levels. Methods used to complete the matrix should be improved as to achieve training goals.
The Strategy Team should use the Competitive Analysis Worksheet Template to list important attributes – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and indicate where the company places with regard to those attributes. The Strategy Team should identify and list the company’s competition (chief competitors, at least). It should then make a list of each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Strategy Team should next address the competition – how they compare with the company, attribute for attribute, in columns 3-5 of MP1040-2 COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS WORKSHEET. The Strategy Team should identify which attributes are of greatest importance to the marketplace in column 6 of the Competitive Analysis Worksheet, to help the company focus its attention and resources on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are most important to the market.
The Complaint Handling Procedure ensures that all customer questions, problems or complaints regarding the use of our products are efficiently and promptly handled and resolved. It will also assist the company in tracking and determining product/part failures, misuse or misapplication of products to guide quality assurance actions.
All complaints or operation questions regarding the performance, safety, reliability or quality of products or services will be subject to management review and/or investigation and will result in prompt response and corrective action when indicated. It is the responsibility of any recipient of a product complaint to see that the customer or user receives a response to their complaint.
The Complaint Handling Procedure applies to all personnel who receive customer calls, contacts or complaints whether written or oral regarding the use or malfunction of any products manufactured or sold by the company. (10 pages, 1,732 words)
Complaint Handling Responsibilities:
Customer Service Management should provide the resources, customer information, authority, and training for call center employees to resolve and record customer complaints quickly and courteously.
Customer Service Representatives (CSR), Sales Staff,and all company employees involved in customer interactions should listen to and record customer feedback (negative and positive) information onto the SL1060-1 CUSTOMER SERVICE CONTACT form, and make a strong effort to resolve the complaint.
Complaint Handling Definitions:
Complaint – Customer’s expression of dissatisfaction regarding the identity, quality, durability, reliability, safety, effectiveness, or performance of a product or service.
General problem – Problem that is not product-specific, such as an order or shipping error, a delayed or unacceptable response to a problem, or an unfulfilled vendor or manufacturer promise.
Product performance – What the product is designed to accomplish and how well it does it in comparison with a benchmark (e.g., product specifications, a predetermined standard, a competing product, and/or user expectations).
Product safety – Condition of being safe from injury or loss due to use of the product; condition deliberately designed into a device to prevent injury or loss due to its inadvertent or hazardous operation.
Product reliability – Dependability; extent to which the product yields consistent results over time; product’s failure rate or need for service meets or exceeds user expectations.
Complaint Handling Procedure Activities
Receiving a Contact/Complaint from a Customer
Repairs and/or Replacements
Complaint Handling Procedure References
SL1090 SERVICE SATISFACTION
SL1070 POST-SALE FOLLOW-UP
ISO 10002:2004, Quality Management-Customer Satisfaction-Guidelines for Complaints Handling in Organizations.
These methods can provide useful information, but they also have serious limitations when it comes to capturing what customers really want. It can take a lot of effort to truly understand the meaning behind survey responses and complaints.
Being proactive in hearing, and most importantly, understanding the voice of the customer means more than just having customers complete surveys and then compile results. It can take more than statistics to really understand what customers want or mean.
Let’s review a couple of well-known examples of how taking time to understand the meaning behind complaints and feedback can lead to simple solutions that have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction.
Are Expected Complaints Acceptable?
Most of us have been to large amusement parks and had to wait in long lines for rides. One well-known amusement park carefully monitored customer feedback, and the most frequent complaint was the long wait for rides. This complaint was ignored for a long time, however, because it was expected that people would complain about lines and because there didn’t seem to be a reasonable solution. Building duplicate rides to reduce waiting times wasn’t feasible. Making the ride operation more efficient had limitations and a minimal impact on waiting times.
Eventually, however, a more in-depth investigation into this common complaint was conducted. It involved asking follow-up questions in order to understand what people didn’t like about the wait. After all, if people expect to wait in line for rides, why would they complain about it? So as interviewers tried to determine why people complained about waiting in line, they discovered it wasn’t so much the wait that people didn’t like. It seemed that people were most bothered by having no idea how long they would have to wait when they joined the queue. They did not know if it would take 30 minutes or two hours. Apparently, it was the lack of information about the wait that they didn’t like.
When the amusement park added signs along the queue informing people how long they would have to wait, complaints about waiting in line dropped significantly. It seems that by having that information, people felt less helpless about the wait, plus they could decide when they arrived at the end of the line if they wanted to wait or go do something else. Now these waiting time signs are common at most large amusements parks.
Having this information also allowed the parks to “under-promise and over-deliver” as they made extremely conservative estimates about the wait. Having to wait 45 minutes instead of an hour (as the sign indicated) exceeded the customer’s expectations.
What Are Customers Really Complaining About?
In another case that involves looking for meaning behind the voice of the customer, a developer built a tall skyscraper. As the project was completed and tenants were moving in, the developer collected feedback from the tenants about the building before closing out the contracts with the various contractors. He wanted to make sure everything was done properly to satisfactorily meet the tenants’ needs.
After completing an extensive survey of tenants, he was surprised to find one of the most common complaints was slow elevators. The developer in turn complained to the elevator company. The elevator company provided the developer with timing statistics to demonstrate that the elevators weren’t really slower than other elevators, but the developer wasn’t convinced. Eventually the elevator company made some minor adjustments that increased the elevator speed a small degree.
A follow-up survey, however, demonstrated no change. People still complained about the slow elevators. The developer began to insist on major, expensive upgrades to the elevator system to make them operate significantly faster. The elevator company lobbied for some time to study the problem. They knew their elevators didn’t operate any more slowly than elevators in other buildings, so there must be something else involved.
Observing Customers in Action Provides Important Information
The elevator company hired a behavioral scientist to study the problem. The behavioral scientist spent a few days at the building riding the elevators and observing people. The conclusion reached after carefully observing body language, facial expressions, and other behavior was that people were very bored when waiting for and riding on the elevators. The tenants didn’t seem to realize that they were bored; they just knew it seemed to take forever for elevators to arrive and to deliver them to their desired floor. So they complained that the elevators were slow.
Instead of spending a large sum of money making the elevators go faster, the elevator company spent a little money installing mirrors inside the elevators, and the developer spent a little money decorating the bare and too-generic lobby area around the elevator bank with paintings, plants, and furniture. These minor changes kept people more occupied while waiting for and riding the elevators, thus the slow elevator complaints dropped drastically.
Apparently the behavioral scientist was right. There was no problem with the elevator speed. The problem was that the lobby and the elevators were boring, and people were bored when using them. Being bored made the time drag, thus the “too slow” complaint.
Not all customer feedback and complaints have hidden meanings. But they might. If you take all your customer feedback at face value you could be missing opportunities for breakthrough improvement, or you could invest time and money to fix problems that don’t really exist.
Sometimes you have to find proactive and inventive methods to find out how customers really feel about your product or service. That might be creating opportunities to rephrase and repeat questions to get a more complete or in-depth picture. It might be creating opportunities to observe customer behavior and activities. What works best will depend on the type of organization, the type of customer, and the type of product or service.
You might have opportunities for such activities now. Is there a recurring complaint you don’t know how to solve? Are you baffled by particular complaints? (Why would they complain about that?) These are opportunities to investigate meaning and expand knowledge about the voice of the customer. A understanding customers is crucial to success and growth.
Top Management should complete a Customer Complaint-Feedback Strategy Worksheet Template to document the strategy for encouraging complaints, suggestions, praise, and other customer feedback by providing methods of contact (toll free numbers, web site URLs, mailing addresses, and postage paid reply cards) readily apparent and available on the following:
Nomenclature, manuals, and other deliverables;
Receipts and warranty information; and
Follow-up or post-sales surveys and letters.
Customer Service should document customer feedback and complaints in accordance with the Complaint Handling procedure, where all customer complaints should be logged according to developed categories and subcategories (e.g., Accounting-Accounts Receivable-Invoice – Incorrect Amount) for the purposes of compiling information and then developing and distributing regular complaint reports.
Customer Service Representatives should respond to all complaints and feedback in a timely way according SL1050-1 CUSTOMER COMPLAINT-FEEDBACK STRATEGY. Typical response times are as follows:
Respond to letters, emails, and web form complaints within one business day of receipt; and
Respond to incoming calls to the call center within two to five rings.
The Sales Staff should document sales activities and results on the Customer Contact Worksheet Template for presentation to Sales Management prior to the weekly (or regular) sales staff meeting. Prior to every sales call, the Sales Staff should complete the Pre-Call section of SL1030-4 CUSTOMER CONTACT WORKSHEET. The Sales Staff should arrive at sales call appointments on time and in the proper business attire. The Sales Staff should also interview leads to determine desires and needs in order to gain the information necessary to propose appropriate products and services.
Immediately after the sales call, the Sales Staff should complete the Post-Call section of the Customer Contact Worksheet Template and update the Customer Database within one working day. Sales Staff should review the Worksheet after each sales call to determine how effectively each sales call appointment was executed and to determine future or next steps with the prospect, and ensure this information is noted in the Comment section of the worksheet. Sales Management should, in a timely manner, review the Customer Contact Worksheet Template and calculate quantitative measures such as sales pipeline conversion rates.
The Customer Database Log Template is information from customer contacts, and for next customer contact. Immediately after the sales call, the Sales Staff should update SL1030-2 CUSTOMER DATABASE within one working day. This database covers customer ID, name, address, line of business, and more. Sales Management should, in a timely manner, review the Customer Database Log Template and calculate quantitative measures such as sales pipeline conversion rates, and to access qualitative attributes such as:
Are interviewing methods resulting in collecting the appropriate and needed information?
Is the information being gathered then converted into approaches to present and propose products or services?
Are forms, reports, and databases being completed in a complete and effective way?
How effective is the qualifying process in providing the Sales Staff with high potential prospects?
Are the lead generation, qualifying, and sales calls resulting in reaching sales pipeline goals?
Sales Management should monitor which lead sources and lead generation techniques leads to the highest number and highest percentage of closed sales, and report this information to Marketing on a regular basis.
Marketing Management should measure the effectiveness of customer improvement plans and actions and complete a Customer Improvement Goals Worksheet Template by measuring the following:
Customer attitudes about the company and its product and services (especially dimensions of loyalty)
The number of customer-generated suggestions for product and process improvement opportunities, or for new products and services
Customer retention levels
Marketing Management should also determine if customer improvement goals for communication and activities were met by comparing the actual number of customer communications and interactions versus the planned number, and by monitoring level of participation in activities such as seminars and conferences. Marketing and Sales should monitor customer improvement efforts by comparing measurements to goals and should adjust customer improvement methods and procedures in order to meet customer improvement goals.
Marketing and Sales Managers should develop an improvement plan and complete the SL1040-1 CUSTOMER IMPROVEMENT PLAN. Customer improvement activities should be planned according to three categories of activities as delineated in the Customer Improvement Plan Template:
Activities that direct communication to customers in order to provide information about the company and its products and services.
Activities that solicit information from customers.
Activities that provide a forum for formal and informal interactions between customers and cross-functional company personnel.
Marketing and Sales should execute the communication to customer’s portion, the customer to company communication portion, and the interaction activities portion of the Customer Improvement Plan Template. The company should continually improve customer relationships and exchange knowledge and techniques through positive regular communication and customer interactions.
Marketing and Sales Management should create goals, strategies, and a framework for collecting information about actual customers, potential customers, and desired customers and document them in the SL100-1 CUSTOMER LIFE CYCLE MANAGEMENT PLAN. Methods for collecting information can include:
Surveys and questionnaires (including web forms);
Customer post-purchase, postage-paid warranty and response cards;
Sales, customer service, and order entry interviews and discussions; and
Contracting with third-party market research companies.
The Customer Life Cycle Management Plan Template covers collecting information, using information, a customer profile, and comments. Top Management should approve the Plan. After placing a Customer Life Cycle Management system in action, Marketing and Sales Management should measure aspects of prospect and customer behavior in order to measure and monitor the success of Customer Life Cycle Management.
Marketing and Sales Management should meet to review previous and current customers profiles, and implement improvements in the customer profile and customer profile development to create more consistent, more correct, and more detailed customer profiles. They should also adjust techniques for soliciting information from customers and prospects as required to meet information collection goals, as well as the questions used and the types of information gathered.
Customer Life Cycle Management Plan Template Details
Sales, Engineering, Service, and other departments, as needed, should evaluate the customer’s request, using PM1040-1 CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS CHECKLIST as a guide. The Sales Manager should serve as the primary customer contact point for resolving questions or ambiguities. The Customer Requirements Checklist Template covers what the product is, who the customer is, how the product will be used, why it’s being made, and more.
Customers may submit their requirements for a product or service informally or formally. The preferred method for receiving customer requirements is through an official Request for Proposal (RFP) document, which should contain a Requirements Definition section. Customer requirements revisions may originate with the customer. The company may also propose revisions based on information it has acquired elsewhere during the course of preparing a proposal or while fulfilling a contract (e.g., pre-production test results, changes to regulations).
The CSR handling the return should record details of the return in the Customer Returns Database Template. PM1070-2 CUSTOMER RETURNS DATABASE covers return date, customer ID, order #, reason for return, and more. Any return complying with the terms of the company’s thirty (30) day money-back guarantee program should result in a full refund to the customer. Returns after 30 days are not allowed without sufficient justification. These returns may be subject to a fifteen percent (15%) restocking charge and cannot be returned for credit without the additional approval of the Credit Manager.
The Customer Service Manager should periodically review PM1070-2, identifying anomalies (outliers) and trends in the data. The Customer Service Manager should report observations, findings, etc., to Top Management, Sales, and Customer Service. These entities should meet at least annually (and as needed) to review Customer Service’s report and determine if PM1070 needs to be updated.
The Customer Satisfaction Survey Procedure determines customers’ level of satisfaction with our sales process and our products/services. Information gathered will be used to improve operations, quality control, product engineering, and other departments / functions.
Customer Service will send out a satisfaction survey to all customers after they have had sufficient time to use our products. The Customer Satisfaction Survey Procedure applies to all sales, whether to new or existing customers. (6 pages, 971 words)
Customer Satisfaction Survey Responsibilities:
The Customer Service Manager is responsible for follow-up on all Customer Satisfaction surveys and for training Customer Service reps (CSRs) in the use of the customer satisfaction survey, when needed.
The Quality Manager defines and reviews the effectiveness of customer satisfaction surveys.
The Sales and Marketing Managers meet periodically with the Customer Service Manager and Quality Manager to review the customer satisfaction survey and make improvements, when needed.