Tag Archives: Customer Satisfaction

Discovering Customer Needs through Research

INTRODUCTION:

Barclays is a global bank. It provides a range of financial services in 56 countries. Barclays provides retail banking services to customers, whether they are individuals or businesses. It offers a broad range of financial products and services including current accounts, savings accounts and general insurance.

Within the UK, Barclays communications are designed to help customers “Take One Small Step” to managing their money better every day. Different kinds of customers represent distinct markets for Barclays. The market for personal banking services is very competitive. Personal customers have a choice of banks on the high street or on the web to assist them in managing their finances. For example, they can have their salaries paid into accounts, pay bills through the bank or save money to gain interest on their savings. There is also a competitive market for business banking services. Businesses require different services such as credit management, payments for suppliers or loans and overdrafts to help them to survive and grow. For example, an expanding business may need a mortgage to buy a new building.

Market segments

Each market is capable of being further sub-divided into segments. A market segment is a part of a whole customer group that shares particular characteristics. These include such factors as age, life stages, geography or occupation. Within the market of personal banking, the segments could include categories such as students, graduates, “new to work”, mature, and families. By identifying different market segments, organisations can ensure they are providing products or services to meet the needs of these customers.

In addition to this, appropriate promotional techniques can be used to reach the people in the separate segments. Through segmentation, Barclays has been able to devise appropriate banking offers for customers in different segments. This approach is helping Barclays to improve its market share of the student accounts market.  Barclays believes students constitute a very important market segment for the business. Students may be choosing a bank for the first time and Barclays hopes to retain these customers. By focusing on the specific needs of this segment, Barclays hopes to attract more student customers and keep them in the long term. Using market research has enabled Barclays to identify the right product offer that will meet their needs.

The case study shows how market research enabled Barclays to improve its student account offer.

PURPOSE OF MARKET RESEARCH

The purpose of market research is to gather data on customers and potential customers. The collected data aids business decision making. This therefore reduces the risks involved in making these decisions. In order to create a product proposition that would attract new student accounts, Barclays needed to understand fully the needs of this target market. Before engaging on external market research, Barclays began by asking itself a series of key questions. It did this to ensure the business was fully aware of all the relevant issues and did not make incorrect assumptions.

In asking itself these key questions at the start and reviewing internal customer data, Barclays was able to clarify its rationale for acquiring students. Firstly, students provide an opportunity for developing a long-term relationship. As the student market segment increases each year in September/October as the university term starts, Barclays has an annual opportunity to target new student customers who need an account and who might not yet have chosen a bank.

Secondly, the use of this data highlighted that in the years after opening their accounts, Barclays was able to establish a valuable long term relationship with students. This meant that students could now be seen as an extremely important market segment, and attracting new student customers became a significant opportunity.

This internal understanding was vital. With this background, Barclays designed a programme of market research. The purpose of this was to establish what students really needed from a bank. In this way it could offer appropriate products and services which would add value to students.

TYPES OF MARKET RESEARCH

Barclays began a process that involved both primary and secondary research.

Primary research

Primary research involves finding out new information. It finds the answers to specific questions for a particular purpose. These enquiries may take the form of direct questioning. For example, it may include face-to-face surveys, postal or online questionnaires, telephone interviews or focus groups. This type of direct contact with people is valuable as it gives specific feedback to the questions asked. However, it is important that the questions are clear and that the researcher is trained. This will ensure that the results are not influenced. Although primary research can be expensive and time-consuming, the up-to-date and relevant data collected can give organisations a competitive advantage. This is because their rivals will not have had access to it.

Barclays” primary research process began internally with two key questions:

  • Who should our key customers be?
  • What are their needs?

The insights from these questions provided a factual basis to work from.

Qualitative and quantitative research

After this an external agency was employed to carry out an opinion panel. This took the form of an online questionnaire. The results of this delivered data about the market itself, as well as Barclays” market share among this target audience.

Quantitative research presents information in a numeric way, such as graphs, tables or charts that can be used to analyse the information.

For example, Barclays found from the questionnaire that 81% of students surveyed held a savings account and 32% an investment savings account (ISA).  The opinion panel also provided qualitative feedback on what was of interest to students and what they wanted from an account.

Qualitative research provides information on consumer perceptions, such as:

  • how they feel about products and services
  • what they like or do not like
  • what they would want from a new product.

The panel produced valuable insights which Barclays used to help re-evaluate its existing student account. It then used the information to develop new features and benefits to meet the established needs.

Testing

The enhanced student account proposition was then tested directly with 100 existing and new Barclays Student Additions account holders. This was carried out through bank branches and an online questionnaire. The sample group provided more qualitative feedback about what motivated students to choose a particular bank. Although small, the sample allowed Barclays to get a feeling for how students would respond to the proposition. For Barclays, it was important to know what motivated a student to choose a bank. Using existing students meant the bank was able to assess if the new offer would meet their needs. The expectation was that new and future students would also find it attractive.

Secondary research

Secondary research focuses on existing information. It uses published data that previous research has already discovered. This covers a wide range of materials, such as:

  • market research reports
  • sales figures
  • competitor marketing literature
  • government publications, e.g. national statistics.

Secondary research may be quicker to carry out but may give less specific outcomes for the topic in question. This part of Barclays research revealed that student accounts in 2009 amounted to 0.4 million out of a total market of 5.4 million new accounts.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

Numeric data gives a factual basis for planning – a snapshot of a situation. On the other hand, qualitative information can find out the things that really matter to consumers. For example, 80 out of 100 consumers questioned might say they preferred one brand of coffee over another. However, more valuable information comes from understanding what it is they prefer. Is it the smell, the taste, the packaging or the price?

To meet student needs for a valuable, helpful financial service, Barclays needed to understand what students really wanted.

By using student focus panels and staff working in branches with a high proportion of student customers, Barclays was able to discover students” concerns, priorities and strength of feeling.

Research outcomes

The outcomes of the opinion panel and the sample of student customers showed that:

  • students relied heavily on different forms of credit. These included an easily manageable bank overdraft to finance their time at university
  • students wanted and often needed to own high-tech gadgets and electrical goods, such as laptops
  • students wanted to have separate accounts to manage their student borrowing and spending
  • any incentives offered would not alone motivate students to choose that product. They were expected as part of any deal.

This insight was a real help to Barclays when considering the most attractive proposition for students. Its objectives were to attract new student accounts. It also wanted to retain students as customers for life in a profitable relationship that met their financial needs.

Barclays could now start to put together an offer that would embrace the main concerns of the target market. These concerns were financial security, credit availability, flexible banking and the right sort of incentives.

IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION

In 2009, Barclays set up a working group to oversee the setting up of the new student proposition. It used the insight from the research to establish the key features and benefits of the student account. These features are valid for the life of students” studies:

  • no monthly fee to keep costs down for students
  • an interest-free overdraft facility of up to £2,000 from starting the account. Previously this started at £500 in the first year and increased through the years of study. This extension helps students manage their finances.
  • mobile banking and a network of local branches for ease of access to accounts.

Incentives

Of several incentives tested with students, Barclays found that an incentive based on a mobile or telecoms offer would have most appeal. This idea was tested further with students on university campus. The students expressed a clear preference for an incentive offering mobile broadband:

“The broadband offer looks good…I”d definitely go in to find out more.” “It”s good if the broadband offer is for the life of the account´you may be in halls for the first year but not after that.”

To establish this incentive, Barclays researched broadband providers. It then entered into partnership with Orange – the UK”s number 1 broadband provider.

Orange”s strengths were a good business fit for Barclays and ensured that the offer had credibility and perceived value. Students who signed up for a Barclays student account were able to obtain a 25% discount on the monthly cost of whichever Orange mobile broadband scheme they chose.

Communicating the proposition

Having developed a student banking proposition that Barclays felt confident would appeal, it began to communicate the message and promote the new student offer. An innovative marketing plan was launched which involved:

  • a word-of-mouth campaign through “100 voices” which encouraged students to share their experiences of managing money whilst at college or university
  • promotional literature available in branches nationwide. This proved useful information for Barclays colleagues as well as for students and their parents to take away
  • online advertising through barclays.co.uk
  • direct mail to prospective students through the summer before going to university.
CONCLUSION

The Barclays student account proposition shows how it is crucial for a business to listen to its market. To do this effectively means targeting specific market segments to discover their needs.

Barclays” new student account proposition was an “insight-led” approach.

Using carefully constructed and phased market research, the bank was able to gain an overall insight into the thinking of students. In the early stages of the research, it was discovered that the student segment provided an opportunity to develop a long-term relationship. It was found that students were not necessarily “here today, gone tomorrow”. If the bank made a valuable and relevant offer, students were likely to remain lifelong customers.

Barclays” initial target was to increase the overall number of student accounts by 25%. This target was exceeded with an increase of 34%. As a result, Barclays increased its market share of the student market, moving from third to second among the top four market leaders.

The process of meeting customer needs is an ongoing one. Barclays has a continuing plan for re-evaluating its student proposition to ensure it remains relevant to the target audience.

Source: thetimes100.co.uk

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The future of 21st Century – Fashion Marketing

From selling to selling the right product, from just capturing more customers to having a satisfied customer, from luxury to sustainable luxury, from customer exploitation to customer awareness – the turn of the century saw a lot and has much more to come.

Selling the Right Product

With improved consumer consciousness and a higher level of education there has to be more concentration on product rather than the media communication. More importance is placed on capturing and retaining customers that promoting the right product. It is important to have a right product before have the right advertising. Right product does not just stand for quality and value for money but also the appropriateness of the product at a particular time.

The product should target the right customer base and should keep in consideration “the mood of the people”. For example at the time of recession, luxury should not be emphasized on in terms of advertisement. Such an advertisement could result in boycott of the brand. Concentration on getting the product right will not just result in satisfied customers but also will eventually attract more customers. Innovation of the product to build marketing into the product is the next step.

With increasing emphasis on ethics and corporate social responsibility the performance actions of a company that influence a consumer to buy the product are to change from the famous “4 P’s of Marketing” by Professor Neil Borden of the Harvard Business School to a new concept of “5 P’s of Marketing”.From Product, Promotion, Price, Placement to Product, Promotion, Price, Placement and Principle.

Principle – The code of conduct of the company, the social responsibilities and ethics will hold an important stand in the consumer’s decision of buying a product. More environmentally conscious products will penetrate the market. A customer would not like to buy a product if it is made by workers who are not paid sustainable wages or buy a product which is not dyed with eco friendly dyes. If a company is known for malpractice the consumer will put aside other factors and make a wise choice to stand against the product. Strategies like “one rupee to rural education on purchase of this product” will gain popularity.

With fashion moving from a common foundation for all at a certain period of time to individualism, targeting a common market could result in depriving the customer of choices and mass rejection. The customer would be more bold and independent; hence catering to customer preferences at a fast changing pace will be a necessity. The famous fifteen days lead time of Zara, the 300 new styles every week of Hennes & Mortiz are good examples to state here. Fashion symbolizes change; hence the common lead time of three to six months will gradually become unacceptable.

A concept of “by the customer, of the customer and for the customer” is emerging. An example of this would be “www.threadless.com”. In this one can design a shirt and put it for public view. The public can vote for the best design and that shirt would go into production. This gives the consumers satisfaction in terms of choice and also a sense of control. There is a dire need of innovation of processes that will allow the customer to choose their product or service.

Marketing on the internet started with online consumer surveys and moved to online retailing. A lot in this is still unexplored. In reference to the pace of technological advancements, in the later half of the century a 3D virtual shopping experience is a possibility. With the internet fast becoming a popular channel of retailing, the concept of e-tailing (electronic retailing) in fashion is captivating the consumers. Internet is catering to the convenience of the consumer. With e libraries, online catalogues and made to order the customers have a lot to choose from. With increasing value of time over money, a customer prefers to pay a little extra for delivery at doorstep. This is a topic of intense research in garments because for new customers fit preferences are difficult to infer.

Customer segmentation should not be based on differences but on similarities. The popularity of online social networking could help define a different league of customer segregation. With likeminded people forming groups and communities on Facebook, Orkut and other social networking sites a method of customer segregation could be devised based on the groups and communities.

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Marketing Methods and Trends – What’s New for 2011?

We are one year into a new decade and we have all seen the shift in how we market and reach consumers. In order to be efficient in marketing, it’s important to realize what will work and what marketing methods are being left by the wayside. Now, with that being said please understand that my statement of trends is broad and may not reach your specific demographic. For example, if you serve a senior market a yellow page may very well still bring in customers for you, but if your customer is under the age of 60 it’s best to put those dollar elsewhere.

This year there are five marketing methods and trends that I’ll be watching with a close eye. We’ve seen many changes over the last few years and this year will be no different. Trends and methods that I’ll be watching closely this year include:

 

 

 

 

Mobile Marketing

In a report done by CTIA Wireless Association it was reported that 250+ million Americans carry mobile phones – that’s over 80% of the nations population. Mobile applications will continue to be developed and smartphones and tablet PCs will remain a part of our daily lives. It’s no longer just about mobile access to email, messaging, calendars and websites. We will see more location based services, mobile gaming, applications, and event-based mobile marketing. We’ve been inundated with new technology from Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Google’s Android integration. I guarantee it won’t stop there, we will continue to see mobile marketing innovations throughout 2011 and beyond. We will see new devices, faster speeds, and location based technologies integrated with one another. If you are a marketer and you’ve not explored the avenue of mobile marketing, this is your year. Get on the bus or get left behind.

Social Marketing Integration
In 2010 companies began to take social media marketing seriously and because of that we saw social media explode as a marketing tool. This year we will begin to see companies integrate social media into their overall marketing plan, which is how it should have been done in the first place, but better late than never. We will see social media expand from a tool used primarily for customer service and brand management to being used to collect customer data and enable better target marketing of products and services that those customer are interested.

Traditional Marketing Continues to Diminishes
This is always a touchy subject, because there are so many that don’t want to say goodbye to the traditional marketing. Interactive or real-time marketing is easy to measure, engage and gain real time statistics that allows us to change a marketing message quickly. Customers are continuing to go online to search for information and in return making their purchases online. It’s important that marketers move their marketing dollars to where the consumers are and right now that’s making a gigantic shift to online. Internet marketing enables us to reach targeted audiences online, advertising costs are lower and they are easier to measure. What’s not to love about interactive marketing? Overall marketing budgets will continue to shift to a higher spend online and the traditional marketing spend will continue to diminish.

Consumers Will Determine Value
In today’s economy consumers are watching their pennies and because of this they will only spend on purchases that they consider to be of value. They will continue to seek value in every dollar spent and they will determine whether it’s value, not you. Consumers no longer purchase just because an item is on sale, rather they will justify every dollar spent. This means you must marketing the value of your product or service in order to get consumers to open their wallets – if there is no value, they simply will not purchase.

Regulations Abound
This is a trend that makes many of us as marketers anxious. It’s been apparent in the last six months that the FTC is looking at regulating the online industry. We started a few years ago with disclosures for blog reviews and paid endorsements. As recent as last week we saw rules passed regarding Net Neutrality and the FTC exploring a “Do Not Track” mechanism that would regulate the tracking of consumer behavior online and the calculation of data. I’m not sure how this will play out in the next year and beyond, but I do believe we will see regulations implemented when it comes to the internet industry and many of those regulations will affect us as marketers.

Relationships will Drive Loyalty and Sales
I listed this last year, but I believe it will still hold true in 2011. Customers want to know they matter to you and your staff. They evaluate now more than ever how they are treated, whether or not your business cares about their satisfaction. Gone are the days that they just purchase out of convenience. If you can give the best customer care, you will find that you will create consumers that are loyal to you, regardless of whether or not you have the least expensive price. They realize that in tough economic times their loyalty to you could be the life or death of your business and that’s often why they will go out of their way to spend their hard-earned dollars in your place of business – if you have helped in creating loyalty by giving them extraordinary care.

Source: Marketing.about.com By 

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Understanding how your Customers Think

John Zogby on how business owners can use polling to better understand their customers.

How can polling be helpful for small businesses?

The era of seat-of-your-pants decision-making is gone. I’m willing to accept the fact that there are some people who just have great instincts, but here is a powerful tool – opinion research, polling – that can either underscore or defy seat-of-the-pants thinking. And so, if it’s available and it’s scientific, you use it.

What can small business owners use it for?

What is your market, and what does your market want? How much are they willing to spend? Customer satisfaction: Are you doing a good job or a bad job? The work we’ve done over the years suggests there are two things you’re looking at when you’re doing customer satisfaction. You’re looking for score: good job, bad job. But among the clients that say bad or so-so job — why.

What’s one of the secrets to getting the most out of polling and opinion research?

We’ve done customer satisfaction for banks, for retailers. You can get a 95% [positive-experience] score either overall or in some specific item. But then when you ask why among the 5%, if there’s one person who says, “it was the worst experience of my life, I’ll never go back there again,” you have to know. You have to find that out. And you only find that out if you ask.

Most polling is done by telephone, but the Do-Not-Call Registry limits business owners when considering this venue for its polls. How do you suggest business owners reach their customers?

You find that even in this era of the Do-Not-Call Registry and people working an average of 50 to 60 hours a week, there are still people willing to answer questions [on the telephone]. But interactive services is one of fastest growing [areas of polling], and very useful and accurate.

Each methodology offers something that another methodology doesn’t. The telephone, for starts: We ask our people, don’t just give us the yes/no, agree/disagree, the scale 1-5 — tell me what the tone was. On the telephone, you can get the real attitude, the real tone. E-mail allows you to ask more questions in more detail.

Are there areas where polling works better than others, or those that don’t work at all?

Always, customer satisfaction. But also, if you’re going to do it yourself, you’re not going to get accurate information. Why is that? Because sometimes people don’t want to tell the actual vendor. They’ll tell us. Sometimes they don’t want to tell about a bad experience – you know, do unto others as you’d do unto you.

Can a business be too small and polling irrelevant to them?

No.

Source: Inc.com By Laura Rich

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