Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Satisfied Customers: The Business Challenge

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Satisfied Customers: The Business Challenge

Article excerpt

Customer service may be an old-fashoned expression, but it is also on of the most fundamental survival tools for the 1990s. Increasingly, smart companies are taking advantage of information techonology to deliver customer service.

At its most fundamental, customer service means keeping the customer happy. The right product or service, or an acceptable level of quality, available in the right place and at the right time--this is the mix that yields customer satisfaction. The last item, timeliness, is emerging as an important competitive edge.

Retailers, manufacturers, insurers and bankers have been able to cut product development cycles and delivery schedules in half, allowing new offerings much more quickly than before.

Advanced information technology can provide the processes and information a company needs to respond quickly to customer requests. For example:

* Ensuring shoppers find the merchandise they seek, through effective store inventory management systems.

* Processing shoppers rapidly at the checkout, including credit card processing, through effective point-of-sale cash register systems.

* Tailoring services and products to specific customer groups; for example, setting the due date for utility or cedit card payments to coincide with receipt of senior citizens' monthly pension cheques.

* Providing telephone answers with appropriate tools to answer customers' questions quickly ans accurately.

* Providing improved and faster services to compensate for, and justify, cost increases.

To succeed, a company must develop knowledge and experience about its customers. Good information systems, specifically marketing and selling systems, are becoming increasingly important in helping managers respond to the daily barrage of questions and problems.

People need to make decisions about products and services, customers, sales force, and markets. Traditionally based on intuition and experience, many decisions are now made only after relevant information has been reviewed.

Marketing and sales information systems brings the company closer to its customers amd improve productivity by:

* Making sales and marketing staff more efficient through automating support tasks. Portable computers direct sales representatives on calls and provide, in return, order, sales and competitive information following sales calls. …

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