Tuesday

Marketing in the Twenty-First Century

"In marketing to other businesses or consumers one of the most important things is to establish good relationships. In B2B or business to business this requires a commitment of time and good customer service prior to ever making that first sale. Customer service begins with a customer's very first contact with a company. It may take place with a phone call by a sales person or an engineer searching for a product or service from a B2B company." (Excerpt from: Internet Marketing B2B and B2C)

While the article provides key differences between B2B and B2C and the e-commerce impact the Internet has made for these companies I would like to cover one of the most important aspects of a company that quite often gets overlooked. The key for business is customer service. Customer service begins at the very moment a customer has contact with a business.

I am reminded of my childhood visits to Disneyland where the smiles on the faces of the workers put a smile on my face. It was as though the workers did it because they prided themselves in providing a great experience for the customer. In fact, it did not even seem like the workers were working but were truly enjoying themselves at the park. I am sure Disneyland has an interview process that seeks out individuals that can provide this type of great customer service experience. While most businesses are not a theme park, people still have interaction with others, and the type of customer service provided is very important for the long-term health of the organization.

The old cliché of "The Customer is Always Right" seems to have been thrown out the door for most companies today. I am not saying the customer is always right but what seems to have gone out is the attitude that business employees need to be nice to customers, regardless if the customer is right or wrong. Some organizations have forgotten what has put bread on the table. Maybe it is because as a society we tend to think that the world owes us something. This seems to be prevalent from the top people at some of the largest corporations to the workers themselves. It is as though there is so much emphasis on the short term bottom line that companies squeeze and squeeze at the expense of the customer. Maybe this occurs due to the hierarchal structure for most corporations today. Shareholder profits have pushed aside the long-term health for a company.

I can think of many experiences over the years where I simply stopped going to a place of business because of poor customer service. Either the workers were not very friendly, or not informed, or both.

In an e-commerce world the impact of good or bad customer service can be felt in quite a few ways. One of the ways customer service can be felt is the aspect of a website. There are significant differences between what a B2C website needs to provide versus what a B2B website should provide. While both need to provide information to the customer, the information for the B2B customer maybe a lot more specialized. A large segment of the B2B world is dealing with engineers that are searching for information about a product or service they need for their next stage assembly or new product. How the website displays that information can be the first contact an individual has with a company. Once contact is made with the website, it may take a few or many visits stretched out over time in order to digest the information before an email or phone call connection is placed to the company.

During the connection process, customer service is of prime importance. How well a company handles communications on an ongoing basis can make or break the sale. Because of the nature of B2B, the rewards for good customer service can earn a customer for life. Like-wise, poor service can loose a customer for life. The financial impact of just one B2B customer can be significant compared that of one B2C customer. For this reason, business-to-business needs to give the attention to customer service to be successful in the long run.

B2C also needs to establish a foundation of good customer service from which consumers first and foremost are looking at trust. The impact of a website can make or break that very first bridge of trust. If a B2C company breaks the trust barrier then it is very difficult to earn that trust back.

The Internet will continue to expand our horizons. Information will be at the forefront, and just like televisions being in 98% of homes in 2001, the Internet will have such a huge impact on the population that we can only imagine what it will be like for our grandchildren. For any business today, not to place any thought into their web presence would be foolish indeed.

For a detailed understanding of what Internet marketing strategies are involved for an online presence to be successful visit our website at http://www.pwebs.net.

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Resources
http://www.census.gov/ Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features/001702.html