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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Anatune started in 1996 and is a privately-owned business where growth and opportunity has pioneered the way for Anatune to be the market leaders in the field. The primary markets that Anatune serves are the Environmental, Forensics, Pharmaceutical, Biotech, FMCG and Academic sectors. The vision of the company is to focus on chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment. The fundamental idea behind this was established in the assessment that we can deliver to customers, by concentrating on what customers require in the laboratory.

Anatune supplies scientific analytical solutions and instrumentation for automated sample preparation and analysis. Anatune employs experienced, analytical chemists that promote and strives to maintain long term, synergistic partnerships with our customers and commercial collaborators. Anatune recognises that data quality, analytical flexibility and pre-and post-sales support are the principal concerns for laboratory customers in the UK and Ireland. Industry experts working at Anatune develop analytical methodologies and solve problems that real laboratories encounter every day. Anatune would not be able to achieve market leadership without the close collaboration with its customers and company partners.

The term relationship marketing was first contributed by Berry (1983) as a new classification for services marketing. Gummesson, E. (1999), describes Relationship Marketing as '''a network of set relationships which can grow into enormously complex patterns'''. Relationship Marketing is a form of marketing which emphasized customer retention and continual satisfaction rather than individual transactions.

There are many problems with the traditional transaction marketing, it assumes all segments of customers are similar and treated in a standardized manner usually with a one ''' of transaction of products shown in Figure 1 (Gr''nroos, 1994 and Baket et al. 1998).

Figure 1: A traditional transactional marketing approach versus relationship marketing

Anatune recognises that it is more expensive to gain new customers. Partnering with reputable companies across the globe means we are amenable to price increases. Our loyal customers are not deterred by this. Support is pivotal to the organisation and everyone in the company is responsible to maintain a high degree of customer contact and maintain the relationship. The longer Anatune retains its customers, this makes it harder for competitors to gain market entry.

The goal of the customer relationship marketing should be to convert the buyers into the loyalists and the loyalists into the enthusiasts. Here the loyalty ladder comes into existence.  The loyalty ladder of CRM includes the prospects, customers, supporters, advocates and partners as shown in Figure 2 (Ozimek, 2010).

Figure 2: The Relationship Markets Ladder of Loyalty

The effect of negative customer perceptions must also be accounted for, and factored into the business and marketing plans. Repeat purchases are not an indication of loyalty and there are numerous reasons why customers may continue doing business with a company; cost of alternative suppliers, installation costs, support and the research involved in finding alternative companies (Reinartz and Kumar, 2000, 2002).

Table 1: Claims and counterclaims about loyalty (Source: Reinartz and Kumar, 2000, 2002).

Loyalty claims Counterclaims

(1) It costs less to serve loyal customers. (1) The long-term customers need more attention and their expectations from the firm rise.

(2) Loyal customers pay higher prices for the same bundle of goods. (2) This is not necessarily true in noncontractual setting.

(3) Loyal customers market the company. (3) This cannot be true if the customers do not possess attitudinal loyalty.

(4) Profits increase over time. (4) This is not necessarily true in noncontractual setting.

All employees at Anatune have access to the CRM software that manages the customer'''s relationship and collects customer information. This is beneficial for multiple reasons, when new products are launched within the company, the marketing campaigns and new application notes can be targeted to the specific customers. Negative information from customers are also recorded, which helps the company to focus on customers that are not satisfied and support them more. (San-Martin et al. 2016).

Value is considered to be an important constituent of relationship marketing and the ability of a company to provide superior value to its customers. Anatune strengthens customer value by offering a service solution called '''Anatune Assist''' ''' this is an all ''' inclusive service package offered to customers for troubleshooting, software support, additional training and preventative maintenance. The laboratory managers cannot afford the delay time for instruments not working and is a liability and reputation risk for the customer. (Ballantyne 2003, Ballantyne et al. 2003, Morgan et al. 1994).

Personal attention to customers and manners is very important, good eye contact and smiling makes the customer feel very important. Thanking the customer and expressing appreciation after the purchase makes the customer feel appreciated. Long term customers are often offered loyalty discounts to ensure that they continue to feel valued and appreciated (Heskett et al., 1994).  Particularly as customers must never be taken for granted as they can move to the competitor. (Pi et al. 2011, Wieseke et al. 2014).

Collaborating with influential scientists and academic professors respected in their field enables Anatune to transmit product messages to their customers. Trust is also enhanced through testimonials. Customer testimonials send a strong message of trust because they are candid endorsements of your products and services by customers who are using your products and service.  Customers are more persuasive than internal employees. Testimonials establish credibility, a new product or solution can be daunting to a customer to select. Making a bad choice can be very costly and detrimental to the customer. Demonstrations at the customer sites using your product or solution can be very helpful in these situations. (Heirati et al. 2016, Fidel et al. 2015).

Anatune deals with B2B and B2C marketing. The main considerations for B2C marketing is: product driven, maximizing value of transaction, large target market, brand identity created through value and trust and building long term relationships by understanding the customer, their emotions, status, desire and price objectives. Although the goal of B2B marketing is to convert prospects into customers, the process is longer and more involved. A B2B company needs to focus on relationship building and communication using marketing activities that generate leads that can be nurtured during the sales cycle. (Nairn et al. 2004).

Social media plays a huge role in relationship marketing, with laptops, smartphones and tablets, we have technology with us almost at all time. Although, Anatune makes use of social media, the comprehensive application of social media is yet to be implemented to explore customer relationships. Anatune can monitor prospects more closely that arrive from lead generation via the website. The amazing aspect about social media, is the relationship is not just about two people. When you produce interesting content, people in your network might just share that to their own networks. (Zhu et al. 2015).

Whilst Anatune has embraced maintaining customer relationships as a positive advancement for the company, not everything has been accepted positively. The successful implementation and maintenance of customer relationships, hinges strongly on the employees of the company.

All employees are different and provides different levels of technical support and performs the duties differently. Heskett (1991) describe a '''cycle of failure''' that occurs when firms minimize employee selection effort and training, so that employees are unable to respond to customers''' requests, and consequently customers become dis''satisfied and do not return'''yielding low profit margins. Anatune prides itself with the selection of staff and career development, although this can be expensive. As larger organisations have more resources for development and training, Anatune as a small company relies on employee motivation and performing a satisfactory job. (Cunningham et al. 1996, Egan 2001).

When implementing a new CRM system, there are many companies and software packages to select. Anatune selected a package called '''GOLDVISION''' to manage and maintain the customer relationship. Not all the employees were enthusiastic initially about filling in the information, and different employees can be selective about filling in this information. The implementation challenges involved with installing a CRM are cost, IT, design, procedure, process issues, difficulty maintaining accurate and current information and obstacles arising from interfaces that are not user friendly. Organisations can be in a state of bounded rationality regarding spending money on the CRM, and doubts about the CRM working and the profitability to the organization is almost difficult to predict. (San-Martin et al. 2016).

The numerous advantages of building and maintaining customer relationships have been highlighted above, however, there are some disadvantages to gaining a customer relationship.

Direct marketing is typically more expensive per customer and involves a higher level of personalization.  This might be more time-consuming for a small business to communicate with its customers on an individual basis. Maintaining customer relationships are expensive and hard work (Ganesan, 1994).  Customers don'''t necessarily understand what they want and need. Also, many customers may not want a long-term business relationship. The security issues associated with maintaining sensitive data are a major disadvantage of customer relationship marketing. Protecting personal data is costly for businesses because electronic security measures must be executed. In addition, companies need to tell customers how their data is used, when it might be shared and why. (Anderson, 2005, Battencourt et al. 2015, Henneberg et al. 2007).

There are different levels of customer testimonials, and not all communications can be positive as seen in Tables 2 and 3 below and are influenced by satisfied and loyal customers.

Table 2: Different types of word ''' of ''' mouth communications (Source: Akbari et al. 2016).

Table 3: Types of informational levels of word ''' of ''' mouth communication (Source: Akbari et al. 2016).

 

When companies are customer-focused, they may resist coming up with ideas to improve products or create new products, so they begin to lack innovation. Customers' needs are ever-changing, which means your customer-focused business needs to have the resources, such as financing, staffing and time, to constantly keep up with customer demands. This may be problematic for small business, as it can be expensive and lead to employee burnout.

To conclude, relationship marketing if used appropriately can lead to significant benefits such as, word of mouth recommendations, loyalty and increased profitability for the company. However, relationship marketing can also present drawbacks with regards to customers and different cultures. As well as the associated costs with customer maintenance.

Critically examine the role and value of the organisation'''s employees in building / maintaining customer relationships. Evaluate the extent to which the organisation'''s Internal Marketing (IM) strategy supports this.

A key premise underlying Berry'''s (1981) '''employees as customers''' concept is that just like external customers, internal customers desire to have their needs satisfied. By satisfying the needs of internal customers, an organisation should be in a better position to deliver the quality desired to satisfy external customers. (Ballantyne, 2003).

What is the definition of internal marketing?  Joseph et al. (1996) '''The application of marketing, human resources management, and allied theories, techniques, and principles to motivate, mobilize, co-opt and manage employees at all levels of the organization to continuously improve the way they serve external customers and each other. Effective internal marketing responds to employee needs as it advances the organization'''s mission and goals'''.

With an internal marketing strategy, employees are treated as '''internal customers''' who must be convinced of a company's vision and worth just as aggressively as '''external customers.''' The goal of internal marketing is to align every aspect of a company'''s internal operations to ensure they are as capable as possible of providing value to customers. If a company can operate in a coordinated and standardized way, that company can provide a more consistent experience to their customers.

Internal marketing is based on the idea that customers''' attitudes toward a company are based on their entire experience with that company, and not just their experience with the company'''s products. Any time a customer interacts with an employee, it affects their overall satisfaction. Everyone from a sales clerk to an over-the-phone tech support specialist helps to shape that customer's experience. Therefore, customer satisfaction is deeply dependent on the performance of a company's staff. (Samaha et al. 2014, Kanyurhi et al. 2016).

Strictly speaking, any company can implement an internal marketing campaign. Even the smallest businesses will want to train employees to project the vision and goals of the business. Aligning the attitudes of employees with the mission of the business is crucial for any company that wants to engage with their customers. It is typically larger firms, however, that are most invested in internal marketing strategies. Because they have so many more employees, often working in disconnected departments and offices, it is more challenging to enforce a company-wide culture. Firms with thousands of employees working in R&D, sales, marketing, production, and logistics must make a concerted effort to educate everyone about the company'''s marketing objectives.

Internal marketing performed at Anatune is a means of involving staff at all levels in effective marketing programmes by enabling them to understand their role within the markets process. Anatune'''s internal marketing program consists of training and staff development, effective internal communications and integration schemes designed to enhance the knowledge and the understanding of the overall marketing orientation within Anatune.

If a company wants to provide an exemplary customer experience, they need to train their employees to provide that experience. An employee'''s attitude, appearance and ability to communicate represents the company. Businesses must make serious efforts to distribute timely and relevant information so that every employee is working toward common goals. A disorganized workforce and an inconsistent marketing message are easy ways to lose business.

The best way to conduct internal marketing in an effective way is to create a comprehensive plan. A good internal marketing program will recruit and train the right people into the company. Many companies also offer incentives like bonuses or vacation days to help motivate employees to meet goals. Management are responsible for informing everyone in the company regarding the goals and how they are going to be achieved. Companies will use departmental meetings, newsletters, corporate retreats and blogs to help disseminate this information.

Why are not all companies implementing internal marketing? Or why is the implementation not successful. The global workforce has changed in the last few decades, majority of women have babies and are able to continue their careers. Many women are not also leaders in their own right, and own and run successful businesses. The biggest reason behind a lack of success is employees are viewed as costs and not assets. Employees can often feel disappointed and mistrust management. (Ahmed et al. 2003, Rafiq et al. 2003). The management team can sometimes not explain reasons behind corporate changes very well. These changes are often not communicated well or in a timely manner. Management are reluctant to implement internal marketing as often upper management do not have the time; don'''t believe how beneficial it will be to the company, fear reactions, leaks and information suspicion. Often, management do not understand what to do themselves, and need to communicate with company stakeholders for this. Management are often not evaluated or rewarded for communicating this internal information to employees, however, the results of a happier workforce will be evident. Often, management do not ask employees what they want to hear from management (To et al. 2015).

Figure 3: Communication Strategy (Source: Smeltzer, 1991).

As can be seen from Figure 3, the plan should be accessible to any employee at any time. This step is important because internal marketing focuses on creating awareness and focusing efforts. Employees should feel like they are participants in the plan and their feedback and ideas should be respected. (Smeltzer, 1991).

To conclude, the goals of internal marketing is to always increase employee'''s knowledge and enhance a favourable attitude towards the employer. To understand and adopt a management style, that employees can engage with, all employees need to understand they are spokespersons, i.e. ambassadors for the company. Management need to create a mechanism in which employees can offer feedback. A satisfied and rewarded workforce, will be happy and content in their duties, and strive to serve the company more and do the same for the customers.

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