The customer is always right… or not! For Daniel Ray, the real key is to truly satisfy clients and thereby turn them into a real added value for the company. As a professor of marketing at Grenoble Ecole de Management, he shares with us strategies that help create efficient and profitable customer relationships.
Daniel Ray is a marketing professor and the director of the Customer Equity Institute at Grenoble Ecole de Management. For the past twenty years, he has worked on issues related to customer equity and technological innovation marketing.
Staying a step ahead
When SEB launched its guarantee to repair products for ten years, it went against the current trend of planned obsolescence and jumped ahead of its competitors. Better yet, studies indicate that this initiative generates no additional costs for the company and attracts new customers, especially younger customers who are worried about environmental responsibilities. The initiative demonstrates the effectiveness of an efficient and client-oriented approach to services and customer relationships.
Breaking away from client-washing
Clients have taken back control. The balance of power is now in favor of the client. “Businesses have spent too long practicing ‘client-washing’ to throw powder in the eyes of their clients and cheat them! Studies demonstrate that catch phrases such as ‘the customer is always right’ no longer hold any weight with the Generation Y. They are even seen as the worst negative phrases!” explains Daniel Ray.
“The general push to reduce costs has led to the lobotomizing of our client relationships. One example among many would be when you call a hotline and get speak to a robot. Companies that pursue this client-washing strategy are headed straight for the wall. Thankfully, awareness is increasing on this topic.”
Overcoming a lack of coherence
The fact is there is a complete lack of coherence between many companies’ real objectives and those they communicate on. Take for example a call center that is supposed to serve and satisfy each client but also limits the time call center employees can spend with each caller (and removes their bonus if they go over the time limit!).
“The answer to this problem is to create sustainable solutions that can’t be imitated by competitors. Disruptive innovation is of course the best option, but that doesn’t happen every day. This is all the more true when you reduce costs and therefore reduce R&D, which leads to a loss of innovation within the company!” adds Daniel Ray. Besides a disruptive innovation, what other tools do companies have at their disposal?
Strategy one: detect and optimize weak links in customer relationships
Daniel Ray and William Sabadie recently published a work on “The Experience Profit Chain”, which details how to examine each link in the customer relationship and create profit from it. “The idea is to detect and optimize weak links. The question is to understand how to create profitable and sustainable links.” explains Daniel Ray.