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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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Delivering Customer Expectations – The Secret to Sales Accomplishment

This article explores one of the major challenges of sales and marketing – delivering customer expectation is all the more vital in the era of the social web. Customers and prospects have access to a wealth of information which enable them to come to a decision.

The Hugging Used Car Salesman

When learning about the hugging used auto salesman, at the outset I thought it was just a ploy to be successful in vehicle sales during all the bad days that the used car or truck marketplace has recently faced. However on digesting furthermore he generates much more business compared with what the average used car sales organisation in their general vicinity. It actually is more than all the hugs, it is about building a superior quality of service, which features favorably with clients. This person treats any second hand autos he sells as though they are actually brand-new cars, including providing buyers with a full gas tank.

Their business attitude is just “You will bring in more money by taking good care of people than you’ll do by just going after the almighty dollar alone”. Its an ethos that is certainly about treating any particular purchaser, like a person and doing so with respect. Certainly one of the things that either global companies and consequently government organisations have definitely each been charged with failing to remember in their dealings with individuals – you may be handled as only a number.

Sales is all about the People Involved

In the long run though sales is very relevant to the people involved in the on-going business relationships. Developing the relationship with a customer which appreciates your own principles may well in the end grow into a whole strategy related to word-of-mouth referrals. It truly is people that reach purchasing decisions, even inside of any kind of business to business deals. Human beings come up with final choice with respect to the company that they work for. During any kind of trading alliance purchasers assume that their demands will be realized, or in the very least listened to.

Purchaser testimonials are actually critical, yet at the same point in time great new practical characteristics, along the lines of social networking, really are empowering clients by providing these people an outlet for their impression of your product. They have more the ways to access details about your business; they may contact some other customers; they will round up all of the beliefs of certain people, both bad and the good and leverage them in their own decision making. Working with opinions is critical, but as is staying interested in the extended on-line discussion could be simply even more most important, this can shows a successful value added solution and additionally functions forming trust.

Activity around people no longer starts and ends with the client visit. On-line activity is vitally important too. Google has given us access to so much information, yet the social web has opened access to people’s feelings and both are of equal importance.

Walk Inside of the Customer’s Shoes

Potential consumers demand to be satisfactorily served. In this case it is always crucial for you to always be very clear about what is delivered. Remember ultimately the client will judge based on their own reasons what exactly signifies a first-class customer service, rather than the dealer. Even our hugging second hand car dealer cannot meet the needs of all the customers all of the time, this is a practical lesson of salesmanship.

Sellers do never the less will need criticism to be able to learn what they do competently and those things they begin to really perform terribly on, nevertheless only a few purchasers feel at ease offering feedback; which can certainly be of concern. Some consider that they need answers to their explicit problems not just surveys online, or mind-numbing questionnaires, which can sometimes look like a complete waste of time and energy. It is far better to talk face-to-face, or maybe on the telephone than send out a survey.

At some point you ought to walk inside of the shoes of the very customer themselves. Picture all your marketing promotions initiatives through that customer’s viewpoint. Furthermore this is regarding a holistic package, and not simply one particular kind of marketing promotions – any concept used ought to be consistent with all brand communications.

Source: business.wikinut.com

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Choosing the Best Internet Marketing Tactics

With so many new Internet marketing tactics appearing regularly, options in online marketing can seem endless. That can be problematic when running an Internet marketing campaign with limited resources, because there isn’t time to dabble in everything. Instead, the best Internet marketing tactics have to be chosen, which will provide the best return on investment (ROI).

Internet marketing is a very general term, which encompasses many types of niche marketing, all which can be used effectively online. The following are examples of types of Internet marketing:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Natural Search Engine Rankings through link-building, keyword density, and more.
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – A specialty form of online advertising, where ads are purchased on search engine results pages (SERPs) for certain keywords.

3. Email Marketing – Sending ezines, newsletters, or other email correspondence, with a marketing message, special offer, or inciting a certain action.
4. Online Advertising – Purchasing banner ads, text links, sponsorships, or other forms of paid advertising online.
5. Online PR – Using press releases, blogs, and other tools to convey company news and build an image online.
6. Affiliate Marketing – Bringing in third parties to sell for the company, for a share of each sale.
7. Viral Marketing – Using tools such as viral videos, file sharing, or tell-a-friend links to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing on the Web.

To choose the most effective Internet marketing tactics for a website or online business, follow these five steps:

1. Choose an industry or niche that has a real demand or need to be satisfied.
2. Identify members of the target market, what their needs are, and how you’ll fill them.
3. Figure out what has the most influence over members of that target market.
4. Look at what the competition is doing, and see how you can do it better.
5. Decide on your Internet marketing budget, and build an Internet marketing plan around it.

While designing your Internet marketing plan, it can help to list every Internet marketing tactic within your budget that comes to mind, as long as it can reach the target market. That list can then be narrowed down by running each Internet marketing tactic through this checklist to find the best Internet marketing tactics for your needs:

__ The Internet marketing tactic has the potential to reach the target market.
__ The Internet marketing tactic has the potential to influence the target market.
__ This general tactic has been used successfully to reach this target market’s demographic group (in this industry or a complementary one) in the past.
__ The Internet marketing tactic will help to differentiate the business from competitors.
__ The Internet marketing tactic can be implemented effectively without exceeding the marketing budget.

Source: Marketingnova.com

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