Supply Chain Segmentation – The Next Step in Delivering What you Promise in Digital Marketing

Trust in Supply Chain

Trust & Care – Two Hallmarks of Supply Chain Segmentation

Supply Chain Segmentation Drives Today’s Digital Marketing – This is how I explained the situation to a group of a senior executives of the company I was consulting to recently.

The profitability was falling, and customers were abandoning the company (I cannot go into too much specifics of the case for obvious reasons of confidentiality). Let us say that each customer segment was unhappy.

High net worth customers were unhappy because they were not getting the premium service they expected.

They would place or order and get a very mediocre service (from their point of view). I do not want to go into too much detail of their frustration because I do not want to reveal more details of the company. But suffice it to say that the experience was akin to paying for a sports luxury vehicle, and getting a cheap low-end vehicle.

On the other hand, mass market was not happy either.

This was surprising! Everyone in the client’s team was astonished to see the data. But the truth could not be denied. A number of focus groups revealed that they were unhappy because they could get the same product for much lower price elsewhere.

The results were predictable – high customer churn, accompanied by falling profits.

The main reason was that all these various customer segments were being served by a single supply chain that was a happy medium of all their requirements.

If You Do Not Show Your Care to Your Customers, Why Would They Care For You?

No wonder, none of the customers felt that they were getting what they deserved. The company was clearly not showing their customers that they cared for them, and as a result most customers simply voted with their feet.

So, what is the solution?

Extend the segmentation effort beyond marketing – to the entire supply chain

Clearly, a segmented supply chain is required to demonstrate to each customer segment that the company is going beyond the marketing and positioning statements, to actually serve them with care that evokes trust and loyalty. This is not the only company that is in this situation. About 60% (estimate) companies I observe are not very far from this reality.

It is relatively easy to segment the market and come up with catchy marketing slogan for each segment that resonates with them. The hard work involves to follow up that marketing message with a tailored supply chain that delivers what your promised.

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Vivek Sood

I write about "The Supply Chain CEOs", "The 5-STAR Business Networks", and, how to "Unchain Your Corporation". In my work, I help create extraordinary corporate results using several 'unique' supply chain methodologies. Contact me for interesting, high impact projects, or, to get access to my IP for creating transformations using these methodologies.

  • Savy says:

    Happy customer, happy you. Everyone within your company who regularly interacts with customers must remember their names whether it is in person or over the phone. This small gesture tells your customers you value them. Show your most valued customers you appreciate their business by inviting them to special events. Perhaps you can give them a special offer on items they regularly purchase or access to an after-hours sale available to a chosen few. If you have a customer who is also a business owner, refer some customers their way when you can. Chances are they’ll share some leads with you, too.

  • Cora says:

    Customer care is important. Why does customer delight matter? Why should your business care? Well, here’s some food for thought: It costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than to retain an existing one. Not to mention, the most number of consumers would pay more to guarantee better services. Who doesn’t love amazing service? People are willing to pay for it! One company I worked for was all about surprising and delighting their customers, so I definitely have an appreciation for that going-above-and-beyond the call of duty to please my clients and to help them please their customer’s mentality.

  • Colling says:

    Customer delight happens when you surprise a customer or client by exceeding expectations. When expectations are met, you have customer satisfaction. When expectations are exceeded, you achieve customer delight. Putting an emphasis on customer delight isn’t just about making your clients happy. It’s also about achieving greater ROI for your own business. Shooting for customer delight puts a priority on customer happiness and it costs more to close a new lead than to retain a current customer. Also by monitoring customer happiness, you get early insight on at-risk customers; and of course happy customers equal more referrals equals more leads!

  • Lisa says:

    Well, I will advise all of you to please remember the Magic Words Your Mom Taught You; Saying please and thank you still work. It is a small gesture, but it goes a long way. And another bonus tip includes your customer’s name when you thank them believes me it will make them smile. Always keep up your promises. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Deliver on the promises you make to your customers. Does your customer have a favorite charity or cause? Show your support by participating in a fundraiser by hosting the event, donating a door prize or silent auction item, buying a table as a reward for your top employees, or promoting the event to your other customers.

  • Kecia says:

    Excellent customer service is not just about words. It’s about the actions you take. In this article, you’ll find useful tips to prove you mean it. In today’s world of business, it’s a dog eat dog for every company. At least 15 other brands sell what you sell and half of the business you do depends on what people say about you. You need to leave your competition behind. Excellent customer service will give you the edge above the others. An important part of keeping your customers happy is to show them your appreciation. Give your customers an occasional treat. Everybody loves free stuff, and even an occasional treat will go a long way towards keeping your customers loyal to you. It’s a great way to test out new products and see what people think about them.

  • Harrison says:

    I think creating valuable content is also important. Share new market insights, your opinion on the matter, and opportunities that your clients might not be aware of yet. Generating valuable content shows that you are on top of your game and improves brand awareness. Clients will also be likely to share your content or recommend your services to their connections based on publicly available content. You should always strive to be the best company in your market. If people see your business as a leading brand in the market, they are much more likely to stick to you. They have confidence in you because the consensus confirms that they already have one of the best providers.

  • Orin says:

    Building a lasting relationship with your customers is a key mission of your customer service. One of the best ways of reaching out to clients is through a follow-up – you can follow up with customers who have just made a purchase or with your regular clients. When following up, it’s great to ask your clients what they think about your product. Your interest in what they think about your company’s offer will make them feel valued and engaged with your brand – and this is the first step to building a lasting relationship. When contacting your clients, make sure to remember their name and your previous conversation with them. Refer to their last purchase and ask about it. All of this will help them feel more ‘at home’ with your business.

  • Sackett says:

    We are a society starved for attention, so sending out a single tweet to a loyal customer can mean a lot. It brings a lot of attention to your brand, as people would flock to a company that cares so much about them. A red tape exists for a reason and is often necessary, but bending a rule here and there will make your customers feel special. Don’t overdo it though. When everybody is special, then nobody is special. Ask for contact details in your feedback form. If customers complain about something, make an effort to contact them and assure them that you’re going to implement their suggestions. You can even mix this up with the second tip and tweet them a thank you! Tell the staff members who work with customers that a happy customer is their main priority within reason of course. Fast and friendly service is the way to go.

  • Irene says:

    If you run a business that deals in large transactions with a few customers, then every single client matters. Bring them together for a barbecue or a party and try to show them that they matter to you. Have a really important client? Remember when their birthday is and send them a card or a cake. It can improve your relations and ensures they keep coming back. If you want to make a really good impression, a personalized gift is the way to go. Whether it is a gourmet gift basket or a high-quality souvenir, your clients will remember such a present for a long time.

  • Marry says:

    So, how do you put customer delight into practice? Start by delighting from within. Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. If your employees are happy, then you will have happy customers. How can you empower your team? Create that culture of delight, it doesn’t need to be justified if it’s within your organization’s core values. Make sure you explain the way to your team. You, as a team, are trying to make better experiences for your customers. Report back on customer happiness. Share stories in your team meetings or in a weekly email update and celebrate those employees that have gone the extra mile.

  • Marvin says:

    If you want a successful online business these days, it’s not enough to simply close the sale. You’ve got to help your customers fall in love with your business. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that everyone is talking about making a business and its marketing customer-centered. But when you get right down to it, not all that many brands are actually doing it. It’s a great opportunity for an agile brand to outshine the competition and achieve ever-higher levels of success. Smart business owners know that every customer relationship lost, either to a competitor or otherwise, costs them a substantial loss each year. And if you’re thinking you can just make up for that cost with new customers, think again. Turns out, it is more difficult to retain the existing customer than convincing a new customer.

  • Rory says:

    Good article Vivek. Excellent customer service means that your customers’ needs are taken care of promptly and enthusiastically. Clear communication, effective policies, excellent staff training, and creative problem-solving techniques are all necessary components of excellent customer service. On the other hand, unhappy customers can tell 8 – 10 friends and acquaintances about their bad experience. You want to ensure that any word of mouth your company gets is positive. It takes a lot of work to provide terrific customer care, but will also increase customer satisfaction and retention, the business owners need to seriously work on the area of customer satisfaction.

  • Lashley says:

    Though many people think that customer service is just about handling complaints, it is even more important to keep your customer from becoming unhappy in the first place. It is much more difficult to make someone happy after they have been disappointed. Design your customer experience in such a way as to prevent customer unhappiness. Also, define your ideal customer. It would be time-consuming and costly to tailor your customer experience to every single unique individual, instead, think carefully about who your ideal, typical customer is. Design your policies with your ideal customer in mind. Ask yourself: What service or product will my ideal customer purchase? How quickly will my ideal customer require the product or service? What technical support will my ideal customer require? What is my customer seeking to accomplish from this transaction? How can I help my customer accomplish this task?

  • Liz says:

    Servicing a customer is a part of every purchase and interaction with internal and external contacts. It can last a few seconds up to hours. So if we all do it and experience it every day in almost everything we do, why isn’t good customer service the norm? We all have stories about when we were treated exceptionally well or extremely poorly. We tend to share these extraordinary stories with others. We all know that word of mouth marketing can be the absolute best advantage or the worst drawback for a company. This article made me think about the Warren Buffett who said it best: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. “

  • Lasek says:

    Honesty and integrity is the best policy. Be honest and own up to your mistakes. Communicate what you plan to do to change or prevent the same mistake from happening again. Don’t be fooled into believing that a regular mea culpa will get you off the hook. At some point, the plan to fix the problem must take effect! The best tact is to quickly get on the phone with the customer to explain your company’s mistake. Don’t rely on email for this communication if it can be done quickly one on one. If you are communicating to a large customer base then email is certainly the fastest and most effective way to quickly notify your customers that you are aware of the problem. Frequent updates are there is a protracted issue and a brief overview of how you will prevent it from happening in the future will give your customers confidence that you are aware of the customer impact.

  • Adam says:

    Customer service is arguably the most important thing for your business to get right. Great customer service can overcome poor marketing, but it’s incredibly difficult and expensive to replace poor customer service with even the most exceptional, delightful marketing. Inbound marketing is customer-focused and inherently aids customer service, but that doesn’t mean companies who use it can’t still be guilty of bad service experiences. It’s only normal for small mistakes to happen or to encounter customers that are impossible to deal with. These are generally small bumps in the road and don’t constitute bad customer service. Such situations, however, are usually considered universally unacceptable.

  • Erik says:

    Customers might not tell you that they’ve had a bad experience with your business, but they will tell their friends, family, co-workers and other acquaintances. The effects of poor customer service ripple far beyond the revenue lost with that one person. Customers are the foundation of success for any business, and if customers are not treated right, the business can lose its reason for existence. If you aren’t taking care of your customers, and your business becomes known for poor customer service, expect several things to happen, and none of them are good news for your business. Long wait times and response times, poor attention to detail, company reps with lack of experience and knowledge, unprofessional and impersonal interactions are few factors that yield unhappy customers.

  • Lincon says:

    Good article Vivek. Companies who are guilty of these bad customer service traits often face negative consequences, many of which are difficult to overcome and can lead to the company’s failure. The good news is that even the worst customer service habits can be corrected without detrimental damage to your brand, assuming you take action quickly. Dangerous side effects of bad customer service and you can adopt corrective measures to reverse those damaging effects. Develop a customer retention strategy that builds brand loyalty. Inbound marketing can be used effectively to retain customers by providing: webinars, how-to videos, and articles, FAQ pages, special or exclusive deals, newsletters Marketers often get caught up in focusing solely on customer acquisition when customer retention generally has a higher ROI.

  • Ting says:

    Rare is the customer who will stick around through repeated experiences with poor service, especially in a competitive market where they can easily take their business elsewhere. When your customer walks, you lose not only that revenue, but also you potentially lose the word-of-mouth of advertising that only a satisfied customer can provide. It takes more effort to attract new customers than it does to retain a valued one, so shedding customers is something no business can afford. Word-of-mouth has two sides to it. Just as new customers seek out businesses based on recommendations from people they know, prospective customers will avoid a business when they’ve heard first-hand accounts of poor customer service. People tend to believe firsthand accounts from their friends and acquaintances more than they believe impersonal sources such as advertising, and they give more weight to negative reports than to positive reports. Prospective customers that might have found their way to your business will instead check out what your competitors offer.

  • Monica says:

    Poor customer care. Yukkhhh. It starts when dissatisfied customers talk to people they know about the poor service they got, and it escalates when they express these feelings online. Not only can tweets, Facebook posts, and bad Yelp reviews go viral, but these statements can also last forever, potentially becoming only a Google search away from tarnishing your business reputation. Once a business is known for poor customer service, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to repair the image. The results go beyond the loss of a customer because other businesses don’t want to partner or associate with a business that’s sliding downward in customer retention. If you can’t trust a business to take care of its customers, it’s even more difficult to trust that business’ agreements with its partners.

  • Nancy says:

    How much does customer dissatisfaction impact your organization? Hint: it is much more than companies tend to realize. Dissatisfied customers are, unfortunately, an inevitable fact of business life. How you respond will determine whether the customer shares on social media how terrible your customer service is or will remain loyal to your company. Lots of brands have gone out of business because of poor customer service. More than ever, customers want to be treated with respect. You can have an exceptional product; however, if you fail to consider how it fits the needs and requirements of your customers you will lose your business. Not listening to your customers is one of the biggest mistakes businesses have ever made.

  • Sherry says:

    Social media is growing in popularity as an avenue for frustrated consumers to talk about their customer service experience publicly. Instead of contacting the company directly and complaining your customers will go to the masses and share what they think about your brand. When you do not receive complaints this also does not mean all your customers are happy. For every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. Your customers’ silence is deadly for your business not only because you have lost the lifetime value these customers bring to your business but because of the impact these customers have on your potential prospects. When your customers complain they give you a unique opportunity to fix the issue and do whatever you can to win those customers back and prevent that issue from happening in the future.

  • Shanon says:

    Poor customer service is bad for your bottom line. The shrinking customer base results in fewer sales, which leads to a direct loss of revenue. Add to that the increased costs from employee turnover. A business that tries to salvage its reputation by boosting advertising and public relations efforts will have additional costs added to the mix. If no effort is made to improve service to get those lost customers back, the result will be a downward spiral that could eventually lead to you losing your business. Employees know when something’s not right with the business they work for. If they see repeated instances of poor customer service, they’re likely to start looking for opportunities with other companies. Dealing with dissatisfied customers makes their jobs more difficult and eventually the working environment becomes toxic. A management that doesn’t care about its customers probably doesn’t care about employee well-being, either. The resulting high employee turnover further tarnishes the company’s reputation, and it creates more costs because of the increased need for recruiting, hiring and training of new employees.

  • Fobster says:

    Your brand’s reputation is incredibly valuable and not something you want to lose control of. However, especially with the internet, your reputation is the first thing to take a hit when you have an extended streak of bad customer service. Customers today are quick to write negative reviews online when they have a bad experience with a company. In addition to leaving critical reviews, customers also vent their frustrations on social media for their friends, family, colleagues, and the entire world to see. Just in case you think people aren’t reading reviews or searching for discussions about brands on social media, most of the respondents have been influenced by an online review when making a buying decision. What this adds up to is a decrease in overall sales, but more importantly, a major decrease in word of mouth marketing, arguably the most valuable marketing outlet a brand can have.

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