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Marketing Basics - Kotler Philip

Customer Service Decisions

Another element of product policy is customer service. A firm’s product usually assumes the availability of certain services. Service may be insignificant, but may play a decisive role for the product. About services as independent goods will be discussed in Sec. 19. Now we will focus on services related to goods. When establishing a service, the market leader has to make three decisions: 1) which services to include in the service framework; 2) what level of service to offer; 3) in what form to offer services to customers.

Decision regarding a range of services

The marketer should study consumers in order to understand for themselves what basic services could be offered to them and what is the relative importance of each of them. For example, Canadian buyers of industrial equipment named 13 factors of service in order of decreasing importance: 1) reliability of supplies, 2) the speed of providing proposals on prices, 3) the possibility of obtaining technical advice, 4) providing discounts, 5) after-sales service, 6) the scale of the distribution network , 7) ease of contact, 8) guarantee of replacement of goods, 9) wide production capabilities of the supplier, 10) the possibility of developing goods according to an individual model, 11) the possibility of providing a loan, 12) n the availability of equipment for testing, 13) the availability of equipment for machining 14. A similar ranking procedure suggests that in this market the seller should at least be not inferior to competitors in terms of reliability of deliveries, speed of issuing offers on prices, possibilities for providing technical advice and other types of services which customers consider the most important.

However, the question of what kind of services should be provided is still not so simple. A service can be extremely important for consumers and nevertheless not be decisive when choosing a supplier, if all available suppliers provide it at the same quality level. Consider the following example:

Monsanto Company was looking for a way to improve the range of services it offers. Clients were asked to conduct a comparative assessment of several parameters of the Monsanto company itself and the DuPont and Union Carbide corporations. Among consumers, all three firms were famous for their reliable supply and the good work of their sales agents. However, none of them, according to customers, did not provide a sufficient amount of technical services. Monsanto immediately conducted a study to identify the value of technical services for customers in the chemical industry and found that these services were very important to them. After that, the company hired and trained an additional number of technical specialists and launched a campaign to introduce itself as a leader in the field of maintenance. In the minds of customers interested in obtaining technical service, all this gave Monsanto a clear advantage.