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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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1. Introduction

The Customer Relationship Management strategies applied by financial institutions before the financial crisis are no longer valid and the companies had to redesign their approaches to rebuild the trust of their customers. Even before the financial crisis the customers of these institutions were feeling discomfort because of the terms of contract they could not understand, hidden costs, the slow complaints handling, and the crisis increased their distrust in financial institutions even more. The loss of customer's trust has led many financial institutions to transform their Customer Relationship Management approaches with the customer relationship being more than ever the key to profitability of their retail activities. A fundamental change was needed in the business model of financial service providers – a new model that places the customer at the center of all activities. Customer centricity might be an effective mean to change the negative image perceptions and restore customers trust (McKinsey & Company, 2012).

Moreover, financial institutions face a revolution in customer behavior. Customers are more and more demanding, their loyalty decreases and their demand for transparency rises. Furthermore, they are no longer satisfied by one-size fits all offerings and in this digital age customers are increasingly self-informed and have easy access to independent opinions and shared experiences (Generali, 2015). These changes in customer behavior are challenging all financial institutions to rethink their approaches to Customer Relationship Management and pursue customer centricity.

Customer centricity provides means for companies to develop long lasting and profitable relationships with customers (Nasir S., 2015). The customer centric model creates value for the organization by aiding companies in understanding and responding to customers' needs and identifying opportunities to create competitive advantage in todays challenging business environment (Mitreanu, 2005). In order to reinforce customer centricity, the companies need to rethink their organizational structures (Kates & Galbraith, 2007; Fader, 2012; Shah et al., 2006) and cultures (Shah et al., 2006). Companies lack the knowledge how to achieve such an organizational structure and culture that supports customer centricity and a lot of them does not understand what it means to be truly customer centric.

The aim of my research is to provide insight to what customer centricity means in an insurance company, how it provides value for the organization and its customers and to demonstrate how an insurance company can transform its organizational structure and culture to achieve customer centricity. I am going to conclude my research at the Generali Insurance Company in Hungary.

2. Analysis of Literature on Customer Centricity

2.1 Customer centricity

2.1.1 Origin of customer centricity

This section describes the origin of customer centricity by presenting the evolution of marketing concepts over the course of time. The marketing concept is defined as “a way of thinking; a management philosophy guiding an organization's overall activities (affecting) all the efforts of the organization, not just its marketing activities" (Dibb et al., 1997).

In the period of industrial revolution in the United States companies were production-oriented. The firms gained access to better resources, developed better infrastructures, such as mass production technology, better transportation and communication facilities (Keelson, 2012). The companies were organized around production and coupled with mass distribution and communication, the unmet needs of the customers were satisfied with standardized products at reasonable prices (Sheth et al., 2000). The organizations relied on the assumption that customers would buy, reasonably priced, and well made products (Keelson, 2012).

The shift to Product-orientation took place during the 1900s into the 1930s (Keelson, 2012).  The companies assumed that the consumers would consume their products as long as they are high quality, so they started to focus on research and development and the mass marketing activities centered on promoting, pricing and distributing the standardized products. (Sheth et al., 2000). As more firms entered the market and the competition grew, mass marketing strategies became less effective and the companies started paying more attention to markets. (Sheth et al., 2000). Levitt (1960) and other academies starting from the 1970s argued that the product-orientation model was not suitable to deliver products tailored to the customer.

They recommended companies to change their strategies to developing products based on customers needs, wants, opinions, thus to include customer intelligence in their strategies. Later on several marketing-thought leaders developed the concept of Market-orientation, consequently the firms started to reorganize around markets and segments, and as the competition grew they developed smaller and niche segments. (Kohli and Jaworski, 1990; Narver and Slater; 1990)

Throughout the 1980-90s, innovations like loyalty cards enabled retailers to track the behavior of the individual customers and reaching out to them with personalized offerings. The rise of the internet created new opportunities for the customer-centric marketing. With insight to the the individual customer' behavior marketers had the means to reach the right customers, with the right message and the right time. In the millennium demographics and technology and the dissatisfaction of marketing productivity will lead to the widespread adoption of customer centric marketing as a way to efficiently serve customers in the twenty-first century. The companies that achieve customer centricity earlier than their competition are likely to enjoy a sustainable advantage (Sheth et al., 2000). The power shifted from the seller toward the buyer and as a result a customer-driven market was created (Galbraith, 2005) because the customers are empowered with easy access to information about products (Ganguli & Roy, 2011). Shah et al. (2006) stated it as well, that the customer-centric view emerged from the technological revolution.  

Production -Orientation

Need for a marketing concept

Product-Orientation

Market  - Orientation

Customer -  Orientation

Figure 1. Development of marketing concepts

Sheth et al. (2000) do not distinguish market-orientation from customer-orientation, but according to Narver and Slater (1990) customer-orientation is rather a part of the market-orientation theory. Kohli and Jaworski (1990) described customer-orientation as the central element of market-orientation.

Based on these arguments, this study assumes that customer-orientation is thought to be an integrated part of market-orientation.

2.1.2 Differences between marketing concepts

This section compares marketing concepts in order to support the understanding of what customer centricity is about.

The first basic difference between these concepts is the business orientation. The product-centric firms are transaction-oriented and the customer-centric firms are focusing on the relationship with customers (Shah et al., 2006). Day (2000) differentiates three types of spectrums: the transactional exchanges (Product-Orientation), value-adding exchanges (Market-orientation) and collaborative exchanges (Customer- Orientation).

The second point of comparison is the unit of analysis, which refers to the collection of customer insight, what is done at an individual level in customer-oriented firms (Ramani & Kumar; 2008). Product-oriented firms analyze the mass market and market-oriented firms examine large or niche segments.

The next distinguishing factor is the value proposition. In product-oriented firms, the organizations are concentrating on development of innovative products based on internal assumptions (Shah et al., 2006). Market-oriented firms are still focusing on what they can produce for their customers (Kohli & Jaworski, 1990). In contrast, customer-centric firms are focusing on providing customized solutions for the individual customers (Galbraith, 2005).

The last point of comparison is the value creation process. For product and market-oriented firms, the company is the one who has the control on the value creation process (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004) unlike customer-centric firms, where customers are co-producers (Osborne & Ballantyne, 2012). This lowers the risk for customer-centric firms, because products or services are developed together with the customers.  

2.1.3 Defining customer centricity

The aim of this section is to clarify what it means to be customer-centric. Many professionals use the word, but the meaning of it can be different for everybody and the literature does not offer a clear definition either. A simple customer focus does not necessarily mean really putting the customers at the center of all activities. The meaning also depends on how someone defines the customer: only the actual and potential customers or other stakeholders? Ram Charam (2007) emphasizes that it is important to understand your customers of your customers, as well. In the old way of selling Supplier A only cared about Supplier B and B supplied to C and C to the consumer. In the new way of selling all suppliers need to understand the consumer and act upon these insights. Ram Charan (2007) labels this new way of selling Value Creation Selling.

Figure 2. Value Creation Selling

Philip Kotler (2003) approached customer centricity by breaking down most commercial relationships into three categories: price-driven, product-driven and customer-driven. The customer-driven organization looks at its customers as part of the overall business process. Other authors define customer centricity as an enterprise-wide strategy with the customers as the main focus. (Ross; 2009, Fader; 2012)

A customer- driven organization makes extra efforts to maximize the value for customers and customer experience. (Vandermerwe, 2004; Shah et al., 2006)

The maximization of value for customers also creates value for the organization (Boulding et al., 2005). Sheth et al. (2000) argue that customer-centric marketing is about the satisfaction of customers' needs and wants on an individual level. Customer centricity is concerned with dual value creation and customer interaction (Shah et al., 2006; Boulding et al., 2005; Lamberti, 2013; Osborne & Ballantyne, 2012), generation of customer intelligence and experience management (Lamberti ,2013).

Customer centricity is strongly connected with Customer Relationship Management and the experts approach this factor very differently. Some authors favor close relationships (Shah et al.,2006; Bonacchi & Perego, 2011; Nolan; 2009) others believe that customer-centric marketing is possible to practice without relationship marketing (Sheth et al.; 2000). According to Day (2000) customers do not want relationships.

For Fader (2012) Customer centricity means calculating the Customer lifetime value and concentrating the efforts on those customer segments that are most valuable to maximize profit. Customer centricity is about how to increase profits from the best customers and find more like them, and avoid over-spending on the rest. His statement that not all customers are equal is a radical one and the newest thought on customer centricity.

Based on these arguments, customer centricity is to have the customers at the center of all activities, and through interactions with customers creating superior experience for the most valuable customers in order to build long-lasting relationships and maximizing profit for the organization.

2.2 Product Centricity vs. Customer Centricity

The aim of this chapter is to set the characteristics of a product-centric company against the characteristics of a customer-centric company with the purpose of giving a clear picture of what the differences are between the two concepts in practice and to help understand them in a greater depth.

The first point of contrasting is the basic philosophy. The product-centric firms want to sell the best product to whoever will buy so their selling approach is: “How many customers can we sell this product?” On the contrary, the aim of the customer-centric firms is to serve customers with the best solution, all decisions start with the customer. Their selling- approach is: “How many products can we sell this particular customer?” (Sheth et al., 2006)

As mentioned in the first chapter in the comparison of product- and market- oriented model, the business orientation of product-centric organizations is transaction-oriented, so they are “pushing” their products (Sheth et. Al, 2006; Hamilton, 2004). Their main offerings are new products (Galbraith, 2005) and they position them by highlighting product features and advantages. (Sheth et al., 2006). In contrast, the customer-centric organizations are relationship-oriented and they focus on the solution (Sheth et al., 2006; Hamilton, 2004.), which means in practice that their main offerings are personalized packages of products, services, support education and consulting (Galbraith, 2005). They highlight the product benefits in terms of meeting individual customer needs. (Sheth et al., 2006). The priority setting basis for product-centric organizations is the portfolio of products and they price to market, while the management criteria for customer-centric firms is the portfolio of the customer and they consider the value and the risks in their pricing (Galbraith, 2005; Sheth et al., 2006).

In terms of customer-orientation, product-oriented firms have a very narrow focus and event-oriented marketing. Customer-oriented firms use the customer life-cycle approach, so they work with customers to solve long and short-term problems, increase customer understanding at each interaction, rather than concentrating on series of discrete transactions. (Hamilton, 2004; Rubin 1997?). For product-oriented firms the most important customer is the most advanced customer (Galbraith, 2005) and customer data serves as a control mechanism (Sheth et al, 2006). Customer-oriented firms believe that the most valuable customer the most profitable and loyal customer (Galbraith, 2005) and customer knowledge is considered as a valuable asset. According to Rubin (1997) the biggest obstacles in realizing the benefits of a customer orientation is the inability of the firm to offer customers a persuasive value proposition. The value proposition defines how the company will create and share economic value. Product centric firms define customer value proposition very narrow, they offer off-the-shelf products with top down design, while the value proposition of customer centric firms is broader, which result in combining product, services and knowledge in compelling bundles, bottom up products designed on the front lines (Hamilton, 2004). The Customer Interface in product-oriented firms is centrally driven, which gives limited decision making power in the field, while customer centricity provides innovation and authority at the front-line with the customer (Hamilton, 2004).

The organizational concept of product centric firms includes product profit centers, product reviews, product managers and sales teams. They are internally focused, their most important process is new product development, new account development, market share growth and customer relations are the responsibility of the marketing department. The organizational concept of customer-centric firms comprises of customer segments, customer relationship managers and sales teams and customer Profits & Losses. They are externally focused, their most important processes involve customer relationship and solutions development. They benefit from customer loyalty. (Sheth et al. 2006; Galbraith, 2005).

Product-centric firms measure the performance by the number of new products, percent of revenue from products, market share growth, market share by product/sub-brands or by new account development. On the contrary, Customer satisfaction, Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Retention, Customer Equity, share of wallet per customer, Customer share of most valuable customers serve as the most important performance measures for customer centric companies (Sheth et al., 2006; Galbraith, 2005). These performance measures will be thoroughly discussed in the 2.4.2.1 section.

The last important element is the human element, which includes the approach to personnel, the mental process of employees and the entire business culture. In product-centric firms the power lies with the people who develop the products. The highest reward for employees is working on the most challenging product and they are challenged by the deadline. They have a divergent way of thinking, they try to figure out different possible uses for their products, they are open to new products and experimentation. In the meantime, customer-centric firms the people with in-depth knowledge of customer's businesses have the power, the highest rewards go to relationship managers who save the customer's business and the employees are challenged to create integrated systems and to search for better solutions. They have a convergent mindset; they try to find the best combination of products for the customers. Their business culture is relationship management culture, which means in practice that they search for customers and needs to satisfy (Galbraith, 2005).

2.3 Organizational culture

2.3.1 Defining organizational culture

“The way we do things around here” is the most commonly known and very simplified definition of corporate culture and it was given by Lundy & Cowling (1996). This definition suggests that organizational culture should be viewed as the right way things are done or how problems should be understood and dealt with within the organization. Andrew Brown's (1995, 1998) definition in his book Organizational Culture goes further: “Organizational culture refers to the pattern of beliefs, values and learned ways of coping with experience that have developed during the course of an organization's history, and which tend to be manifested in its material arrangements and in the behaviors of its members.” Schein (1985) argued that culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that members of an organization learn, and leads them to think and act in certain ways.  Cultures are formed at the earliest stages of an organization's life and they often reflect the values and behavior of an organization's founder. (LeBlanc, 2012; Barrett, 2010) If the customer experience is an integrated part of an organizations' personality it must be driven from the leaders of the organization. Employees learn quickly what their leaders value and believe and where their priorities lie.

2.3.2 Recognizing a customer centric organizational culture

According to LeBlanc (2012), customer centric leaders believe that customer experience increases the bottom line and they recognize that it is not about perfecting the customer service, but improving all interactions with customers. They understand that developing emotional connection with customers leads to competitive advantage. These leaders interact with their employees continuously and ensure that they have a shared understanding of ideal customer experience and they co-create with them and the customers, in other words use their knowledge in product development. They hire individuals whose personalities align with the company's values, mission and vision and empower them to make decisions that benefit the customer (Manning and Bodine, 2012). Moreover, they are aware of the significance of their employees, and they invest a lot in soft skills training, such as customer service and relationship building. (Shep Hyken, ?;  Abdallah E., 2015)

The employees of customer centric organizations are keen on working for their company and their goal is to deliver outstanding customer experience (LeBlanc, 2012).

The customers of these firms perceive the dedication of employees in their flexibility and attitudes when addressing the customers' problems (LeBlanc, 2012).

2.3.3 Designing a customer centric organizational culture

Designing a customer centric culture begins with defining and communicating a shared goal. It will effect every aspect of the customer experience. The leadership needs to phrase the mission and the vision so their employees will know what they want they need to deliver what the customer experience need to look like. There is a need for a clear statement of what the company is about. (LeBlanc 2012; Shep Hyken, ?; Deloitte, 2014)

An other vital driving force is identifying shared values. The actions of employees reflect the values shared by their coworkers and rewarded by leaders (LeBlanc 2012; Manning and Bodine; 2012). Furthermore, it is crucial to remind the members of the company of what the organization stands for. The heritage and tradition can be reinforced by storytelling (LeBlanc, 2012). Before focusing on customers, they need to focus on employees, values, and internal stories—these factors contribute to a strong internal culture. The stories spreading among employees point to what workers really believe the organizations' culture is about. By establishing quality expectations and role-modeling can leaders shape and evolve a customer-centric culture (LeBlanc, 2012). Leaders should “walk the talk” by demonstrating the preferred behavior through action, conversation and by celebrating the best performers on behavioral and outcome dimensions as well. (LeBlanc, 2012; Abdallah E., 2015)

2.4 Organizational structure

2.4.1 Definition and key decisions

Organizational structure can be defined as the pattern of jobs and groups of jobs in an organization. It can be viewed from two perspectives: as an influence on behavior of individuals and groups who make up the organization and as recurring activities performed as consequences of the structure (Gibson, 2006).

When the management designs the organizational structure these are the four key design decisions they need to make: Division of labor, Departmentalization, Span of control, Authority. (Gibson, 2006; Galbraith, 1995).

The first key decision is the division of labor, which is the process of dividing work into specialized jobs to achieve advantages through specialization. (Gibson, 2006).  The division of labor can occur in three different ways: work can be divided according to personal specialties, into different activities (horizontal differentiation) and along the vertical plane of the organization (the hierarchy of authority).

The second key decision can be considered the departmentalization, which is the process in which the organization is structurally divided by combining jobs in departments according to some shared characteristic or basis. (Gibson, 2006).  Experts differentiate 5 types of departmentalization: Function (“know-how”), Geographic or region, Product, Customer or Market and a combined decentralization called Matrix Organisation. (Kates and Galbraith, 2007, Gibson 2006).

Span of control means the number of individuals who report to a specific manager. It is crucial to consider how wide or narrow the span of control is when designing an effective organizational structure. (Gibson, 2006)

Lastly, the delegation of authority is process of distributing authority downward in an organization. Authority refers to individuals' right to make decisions without approval and not doing work. (Gibson 2006). According to Jones (2010) “Authority is the power to hold people accountable for their actions to directly influence what they do and how they do it”.   The degree of centralization or decentralization of authority is essential when designing an organizational structure.

2.4.2 Reinforcing customer centricity

The organizational structure determines who is performing which job and where in the organization; the associated managers are holding their subordinates accountable for certain goals. Employees are specialized in a set of specific organizational tasks, and receive a set of goals by means of Key Performance Indicators. However, the goals of the organization sometimes differ from the subunit goals which can reduce the effectiveness. Therefore, the achievement of organizational goals, thus the organizational structure influences the performance of the organization. Customer-centricity can be considered as an organizational goal and mission and the organizational structure facilitates the achievement of this goal. Consequently, the aim is to design such an organizational structure which supports the reinforcement of customer centricity.

Shah et al. (2006) emphases the conflict of product managers whose objective is to sell the product, but not to deliver an integrated value proposition to satisfy the needs of the customers. An integrated value proposition requires that different functions throughout the value chain work together in order to generate personalized solutions (Galbraith, 2005; Bonacchi & Perego, 2011). Product-centric firms only coordinate inside product teams, customer-centric organizations understand the need for coordination across all functions. (Bonacchi & Perego, 2011).

In order to satisfy the needs of the customers the organization must to determine and understand these needs first. The best way is to build and maintain long-term relationships with customers (Narver & Slater, 1990). Organizing around customer segments enables building long lasting relationships with customers in the specific segment. A customer segment is a group of customers with characteristics and needs. (Kates & Galbraith, 2007). Specialization in customer segments helps the organizations to understand the needs of its customers (Jones, 2010). The goal is to create units that can better and flexible respond to the market (Day, 2006). Fader (2012) emphasizes the importance of customer segmentation as well because it gives a much truer picture of the value of the customer base.

Considering the delegation of authority, according to Gibson (2006) a higher degree of decentralization supports the most the customer-centric business model. In order to achieve organizational goals, it is important to choose the Key Performance Indicators so that the employees are working towards customer centricity (Shah et al., 2006; Bonacchi & Perego, 2011). The other important metrics that need adaptation are the employee measures or rewards systems because the commitment of the employees is crucial to reinforce a customer centric strategy (Lamberti, 2013). The measures ascertained to measure business performance will be the basis for a reward system (Galbraith, 2005). As these metrics are important for the assessment of the success of the model in this thesis, they will be thoroughly explained in the next section.

2.4.2.1 Performance Measures

 The most commonly used performance measures are listed in the second chapter, this section clarifies the most important ones; Customer Satisfaction, Customer Retention, Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Equity (Sheth et al., 2006; Galbraith, 2005; Deloitte, 2014).

Customer Satisfaction is a key marketing performance metrics because a business that completely satisfies customers is the business that will keep them (Roger, 2009). One method to measure customer satisfaction is to compute a Customer Satisfaction Index based on customers' ratings on their overall satisfaction. Customer Satisfaction has different levels and it can range for example from very dissatisfied to very satisfied, every rating is connected with a level of customer satisfaction. It is a forward looking indicator of business performance because it measures how the customers will respond to the company in the future. (Roger, 2009)

Customer Retention refers to the actions organizations take in order to reduce the number of customer defections. In less competitive markets the customers are easer to retain even with low level of customer satisfaction because of the high switching-costs or the lack of other options. In highly competitive markets even high level of satisfaction can not ensure low customer retention rate.  In the short run higher rate of customer retention increases profits of retained customers, reduces losses from defecting customers and lowers the cost of attracting new customers. The long-long term impact is lengthened average life of a customer which results in longer customer lifetime value (Roger, 2009).

Most experts agree that the most important performance indicator of customer centricity is the Customer Lifetime Value. (Sheth et al., 2006; Galbraith, 2005; Fader, 2012; Roger, 2009; Deloitte, 2014) This is the unit of measurement upon the customer-centric firms are built (Fader, 2012). It facilitates organizations to value customers individually and collectively, helps organizations to decide on what to spend to gain new customers and improves decision making about the allocation of marketing resources. (Fader, 2012). Faders' definition sounds as follows “CLV is the present value of the future (net) cash flows associated with a particular customer.” It is a forward looking concept, it is concerned with the future worth of a customer and not the past profitability. Fader (2012) stresses the importance of using relevant data to calculate CLV and that CLV calculations are not precise but predictive. Fader (2012) points out the importance of distinction between the calculations of contractual and non-contractual relationships; according to different business settings different methods of CLV calculations must be applied. Advantages of a correctly calculated CLV are that it tells what is the worth of individual customer, provides a mean to estimate the companies' overall customer equity, and enables the organization to divide customers into tangible segments distinguishing the most valuable customers from the less valuable and to separate them into different groups. Moreover, it helps to improve the approaches implied toward the right customers and provides means to predict the customer behavior in certain situations. Last but not least, it improves the effectiveness of the use of resources to retain and attract new customers (Fader, 2012)

Fader (2012) defines Customer Equity as follows: “Customer Equity is the sum of customer lifetime values across a firm's entire customer base.” He argues that customer equity is not an indefinable concept but it should be counted among the companies' assets because it can be leveraged to generate future growth. Every companies' goal is to maximize its overall equity; thus they should dedicate the resources to maximize customer equity. (Fader, 2012)

2.4.2.2 Rewarding systems

Rewarding systems should be designed to motivate employees to pursue the organizational strategy and goals (Galbraith, 2005). Organizations that use customer metrics as a basis for their rewarding systems show higher customer interaction (Ramani & Kumar, 2008). Experts agree that organizations need to clearly define their employees what matters by choosing the right measures, so they can work toward organizational goals (Day, 2006; Shah et al., 2006; Bonacchi & Perego, 2011). These measures in the reward system need to support the important processes which enhance customer centricity such as personalization, co-creation, relationship and experience management. Employees have a huge role in the successful implementation of customer centricity because of the interaction between them and customers and reward systems should improve performance in these interactions. Kohli & Jaworski (1990) emphasized the importance of both short and long-term measures. Employees should not only be rewarded according to short-term financial measures like sales.

2.4.2.3 Importance of Customer Relationship Management

Fader (2012) defines Customer Relationship Management as follows: “CRM represents a firm's front-line efforts to gather data about and better understand the unique characteristics and expected value of its focal customers and to use that information to appropriately allocate resources.” This definition suggests that a CRM system can help companies recognizing who their focal customers are, precisely calculating CLV, segmenting their customers effectively, implementing successful marketing activities and to constructing an infrastructure to manage this process regularly. Developing a CRM system is crucial because without it the company cannot collect and leverage data about their customers. (Fader 2012)

2.4.2.4 Importance of Experience Management

Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote in their book Return on Customer (2005) : “Customer experience as the single most important factor for business success”. Customer experience is the internal and subjective response customers have to any direct or indirect contact with a company. The customer's expectations are set by their previous experiences, market conditions, the competition, and the customer's personal situation or by the company's own brand (meyer and schwager 2007). The promise and the actual customer experience must meet or exceed the expectation or promise set, otherwise the consumers will have emotionally a poor or neutral experience which can result in a gap. (Edwards, 2014)

Bain & Company's research in 2005 found that the companies that create superior experience focus on treating their most profitable customers right and ensure that they come back and recommend their services to others. Companies can close the gap by designing the right propositions for the right customers; by delivering these propositions at the lowest possible cost and developing an infrastructure to manage this process repeatedly.  

In this connected age the costumers are empowered, the factors influencing customer experiences are multiplying and the expectations of customers rise with them. Delivering on promise creates trust with the customers and allows building long relationships with them which is the aim of customer centric companies.

Figure 3. Customer Experience

Managing Customer Touch Points

Touch points are contact points during a customer's process of buying and using a product and a business has several opportunities to influence these interactions (Roger). The development of these areas where customers interact with a service will influence the customer experience positively and help a firm gain competitive advantage.

The customers have problems that require solutions. Product-oriented firms provide products and market-oriented businesses provide solutions. To be a provider of solutions a business needs to have a broad view of costumers' problems and a perspective that transcends services to include a broad understanding of customer usage and needs in order to discover otherwise undetected opportunities (Roger).

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