What is Customer Orientation?
Customer orientation refers to customer-centric business. This model provides a personalized customer experience that focuses on establishing healthy relationships between service providers and consumers by first identifying a customer’s needs.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Customer Orientation?
- 2 Customer Oriented Approach
- 3 Customer Oriented Marketing Business Approach
- 4 Elements of a Customer Driven Marketing Strategy
- 5 Relationship Marketing Strategy on Customer Loyalty
- 6 Consumer Oriented Sales Promotion Techniques
- 7 Long-Term Effects of Customer Oriented Sales Promotions
Any service offered by companies that focuses on the internal and external needs of a business’s customers. Consumer orientation establishes and monitors standards of customer satisfaction and strives to meet the clientele’s needs and expectations related to the product or service sold by the business.
It is a business strategy in the lean business model that requires management and employees to focus on the changing wants and needs of its customers.
In other words, it’s a company-wide philosophy that the customer’s wants and needs are the first priority of all management and employees. Most modern companies have transitioned to a more customer-oriented approach to product design, development, and marketing strategy, but a company that truly embraces this idea changes its entire operations to fit consumer needs.
Take a manufacturer for example. Traditionally, manufacturer employee never had a reason to be aware of the consumers’ wants or needs. Management would introduce products and the employees would be in charge of producing them according to the drawings and plans.
Modern companies focus on educating employees about consumers needs, so they can change their operations or even suggest changes to management that would benefit customers in the long run.
Customer Oriented Approach
The modern marketing concept is a concept that embraces an understanding that marketing activities focus on consumer-oriented or we can say customer-oriented business. This concept is very popular because the marketing activities of this concept is built on assumptions of the customer management services as follows:
- More customers know what they need.
- Orientation to customer needs as the main target for the success of marketing activities.
- Marketing research helps in determining customer needs exactly.
- Satisfied customers will appreciate the producers with a repeat purchase.
- The difference bidding which is competitive is important for customers in identifyingproducts of interest.
In such a marketing concept a customer is seen as part of a changing environment, marketing activities are executed to drive business with a varied mix of activities based on the below principles.
Customer Oriented Marketing Business Approach
- Process management marketing is performed to recognize, anticipate and satisfycustomers in order to get profitable business.
- The fundamental activities of policy-making that focuses on the selection anddevelopment of products are best suited for sales, promotion and distribution in order toachieve optimum results.
- Focus and concentrate the use of capital resources and effort for a specific purpose.
- Marketing is started from the knowing of the need and desire of customers, after gettingcustomer’s need you can : • Create value for customers, • Achieve a differential advantage over the competition.
- The principle of functional marketing is a positive business activity, designed anddeveloped to satisfy stakeholders.
Customer relationship is a marketing concept that emphasizes the consumer as a partner. In business practices, it can be formed from the aspects involved in the business. The goal is to produce high customer equity. There are five levels of relationship building with customers:
- Basic marketing: the seller just selling product.
- Reactive marketing: the seller sells the product and convince customers to call if you haveany questions, comments or complaints.
- Accountable marketing: sellers calling customers to find out whether the product meetstheir expectations and to ask customers about the proposed improvement of the product.
- Proactive marketing: sellers contact customers from time to time with suggestions aboutthe benefits of the products have been developed.
- Partnership marketing: the company works continuously to help improve performance forits customers.
A customer-oriented organization places customer satisfaction at the core of each of its business decisions. Customer orientation is defined as an approach to sales and customer relations in which staff focus on helping customers to meet their long-term needs and wants.
Here, management and employees align their individual and team objectives around satisfying and retaining customers. This contrasts, in part, with a sales orientation, which is a strategic approach where the needs and wants of the firm or salesperson are valued over the customer:
Customer Oriented Strategy
Business owners have two basic choices when marketing their products. First, they can create products and then find ways to generate demand among consumers. For example, a company might promote a new product for which there is no existing need by creating consumer demand with a series of compelling advertisements.
The second option is to identify customer needs and then create products that meet those needs. The latter approach is called the “market-pull” model of marketing, because it relies on consumer demand to “pull” the product to the marketplace, rather than having to push the product on consumers.
Focusing on meeting a customer’s needs rather than just making the sale can increase your profits. When your customers are happy, they’ll keep buying from you. Repeat customers mean more profits per person, as well as a decreased need to spend money chasing new customers.
And happy customers will recommend you to the people in their life. In other words, focusing on customer satisfaction can be a smart financial decision.
Your overall goal should be to meet your customers’ needs for a fair price. Achieve this by carefully researching your target consumer before you begin product development. Identify which consumer needs are not being met by your competitors, and develop your product to fill that niche.
Use your advertising budget to explain to customers how your product meets their needs. After they purchase your product, offer superior customer support to let them know you value their patronage. Continually revamp your product line to ensure your company’s offerings keep up with changing customer needs.
Elements of a Customer Driven Marketing Strategy
In a highly competitive business environment, focusing on the needs of your customers can give you an edge over your competition. As such, your marketing strategy should be geared toward reaching those who would benefit the most from your product or service.
A customer-driven marketing strategy includes elements like identifying your target market and reacting to their needs. It should also detail ways to retain customers and use them to help you gain additional business:
Targeting Your Market
A customer-driven marketing strategy targets a specific market segment. Use marketing research to identify common demographic characteristics within your customer base, such as age, gender, occupation and income level.
The more you know about your customer base, the easier it is to develop a strategy that will appeal to these characteristics. As a result, you waste less time and money trying to reach unlikely prospects.
A customer-driven marketing strategy focuses on meeting the needs of your customers and examines how your products or services can meet those needs. For example, your initial research may tell you that your customers are extremely interested in receiving a high level of service. You may be able to meet this need by offering free deliveries or extended hours of operation.
Customer-driven marketing helps to build loyalty, which can lead to repeat sales as well as referral business. One method used by marketers is the implementation of a rewards program where customers receive points each time they make a purchase. The accumulation of points leads to free or discounted products or services.
Using Customer Feedback
Use feedback from your customers to make changes or improvements to help you continue to meet customer needs in the future. For example, your customers may indicate that they want a cleaner store, a different product mix or a better customer return policy.
Make any necessary changes and use your marketing strategy to get the word out to show that you’re focused on serving your customers.
Make generating referrals a part of your customer-driven marketing strategy. Encourage your existing customers to spread the word about your business to gain new customers. Implement a referral program where customers are rewarded for sending new business your way by giving additional discounts or free merchandise.
You could even hold a contest to see which customer can send you the most referrals in a specific amount of time.
Relationship Marketing Strategy on Customer Loyalty
Relationship marketing focuses on interacting with customers long term, rather than simply trying to make a quick sale. If you focus on learning customers’ personal tastes and understanding their individual issues, you can eventually get to the point where you make actual sales, because you will know how your products or services specifically solve their problems. This strategy affects multiple aspects of customer loyalty.
- Brand Loyalty
- Salespeople Loyalty
- Product Loyalty
- Service Loyalty
- Cost Oriented Customers
- Value Oriented Customers
- Technology Oriented Customers
If you build relationships with customers slowly, you build a reputation as a company that cares about people as individuals. This becomes part of your brand. According to the journal, “Management Science,” brand loyalty allows you flexibility in setting prices.
This can improve your profit margin because you do not have to attract customers on the basis of bargain pricing. Instead, customers return to you because they have a relationship with you.
Customers can become attached to specific salespeople. While you run the risk of losing the salesperson and having to rebuild the relationship with the customer, this kind of loyalty can increase sales dramatically. To achieve this kind of loyalty, you must train your salespeople in the techniques of building customer relationships.
These techniques include: making follow-up calls without trying to sell anything, calling a customer to offer a solution to a problem they are having, asking questions about customer needs and maintaining contact through social media.
Customers may develop a relationship with a product. Because products solve customer problems or fulfil customer desires, they tend to have an emotional impact. Customers will return to a product that satisfies them over and over.
You have to offer the best products available to achieve this kind of loyalty. Your target market is people who are willing to pay extra for quality. Avoid discount brands for this type of customer, and focus on providing only the best.
If you provide stellar customer service, people will return to you. Customer service focuses on understanding specific problems, taking responsibility for solving those problems and following up to make sure the customer is satisfied.
Train customer service people to stop placing blame for the problem and start taking responsibility for the solution. The impact on your sales can be significant because customers who value your customer service will return to you despite the price, location and availability of competitors’ products.
Orientation of customer means how the customer’s preferences are possessed or in what areas of business the customers are conscious of. A customer can be cost-oriented, value-oriented or technology-oriented as discussed below:
Cost Oriented Customers
A cost-oriented customer focuses on least costs products and is ready to compromise on efficacy, performance and quality. These types of customers are always prone to lose as when they have sudden problems with the products they always blame the supplier without judging that they themselves are responsible for this loss. Some of the related type customers have a tendency to fix problems locally without taking supplier’s direct help as it is anyway cheaper.
Value Oriented Customers
Value-oriented customers will always stick to efficient and high performing products as they know that during the long run this would be a profitable deal. They are interested in investing higher initial capital cost and then enjoying the cost-free benefits in future.
According to these customers, this type of deal is like a long term investment with higher future profit. In some cases, these types of customers are also ready to pay a premium because they know that this would make better economic sense during the long run and there will always be lesser maintenance efforts required. These customers are tended towards maintaining a healthy relationship with suppliers as they are satisfied customers.
Technology Oriented Customers
These customers opt for the best technology rather than less cost or good quality and performance. These customers are technology conscious because they feel that usage of the best and newest technological products would help them to remain sustained in the changing technological environment.
For suppliers who are based on making or launching trended technological products have a good chance of capturing these customers and finding business out of them. These customers are innovative and have zeal towards technical aspects.
They also have a tendency for experimenting with new things and do interact with people of the same nature or tendency, so the suppliers are helped by them in creating new referrals and increasing the business. These customers are also satisfied customers and end by making worthy relationships with suppliers.
Consumer Oriented Sales Promotion Techniques
Effective sales strategies for small businesses are strategies that focus on unique customer needs, by customer segment. Customer orientation to the establishment of sales strategies can enable small businesses to compete effectively against even large competitors.
Businesses can expect to go through four phases as they develop their customer-oriented strategies:
- Identifying and Segmenting Customers
- Learning About Customer Needs and Preferences
- Building Relationships
- Engaging in Service Recovery and Continuous Improvement
- Creating a Customer Orientated Culture
Identifying and Segmenting Customers
Effective customer-oriented sales strategies require the segmentation of customers into specific groups or areas of focus. Not all customers are the same; different segments will have different needs. The more precisely businesses can identify the specific customer segments they want to sell to, the better they will be able to differentiate their communications to address unique customer preferences.
For instance, a company that sells outdoor furniture will likely have different strategies and messages for the single adult than for the young married couple or the retired couple.
Learning About Customer Needs and Preferences
The more a business knows about its customers and their needs and preferences, the more successful its sales strategies will be. While small business owners certainly have a wealth of information from their perspective about their products and services and why they’re great, the perspectives of customers are often different and sometimes surprising.
Taking the time to learn about customers, what they know, what they value and what their communication preferences are–can help ensure the effectiveness of sales strategies.
Hopefully, customer interactions will not be one-time events. Businesses need to build relationships with customers so they will keep coming back and will refer others to the business and its products and services.
Building relationships requires attention to the customer relationship at all stages, from the first point of contact through future sales and through times when sales are low or absent. It is more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, so efforts spent on building relationships can pay off significantly.
Engaging in Service Recovery and Continuous Improvement
Despite a business’s best efforts, mistakes can happen and sometimes customers are not satisfied. Effective customer-oriented sales strategies will include consideration of service recovery processes to ensure that if errors occur, they are quickly and effectively handled.
In addition, businesses need to be continually seeking input from customers about ways products and services can be improved, as well as acting on those inputs to ensure long-standing success.
Creating a Customer Orientated Culture
In today’s competitive market place there can be few organizations who do not desire to be customer-focused and even fewer who do not recognize how important employees are in delivering this. The bad news is that still, few are truly succeeding in creating a customer focus culture where the customer is king.
This focus upon the impact of the employee in building customer culture is becoming a key issue for those who want to maintain a competitive advantage. In this article, the authors investigate the reasons for the gap between the realization of converting customer strategy to culture and delivering against it to create a customer-oriented culture. They also examine the steps that can be taken to bridge this void.
Long-Term Effects of Customer Oriented Sales Promotions
Consumer-oriented sales promotions that include price markdowns, coupons, rebates and other inducements become increasingly important as competition increases in your industry and competitors utilize promotions on a regular basis.
The long-term effects of customer-focused promotions carry both negative and positive ramifications that you must consider when preparing your marketing plans:
When customers know they can always find a coupon or a sale, they become inured to the inducements. Sales and coupons begin to lose their effectiveness when they are constant. Sales don’t mean anything when they are too common.
Additionally, your sales may get lost in the clutter of similar advertising and marketing in the newspapers, on TV or through electronic or traditional mail.
To combat the consumer overload, many retailers turned to loyalty cards as their primary incentive to bring customers back. Find some way to reward regular customers to help you stand out in the crowd.
When customers always see your service or products on sale, their confidence in the quality of your work may become eroded, according to the University of Dayton. Instead of building confidence in the quality of your business, you may be undermining your value in the minds of consumers with too many promotions.
They may begin to question the validity of your service if it’s always on sale. Additionally, when they see continuous promotional campaigns, customers may postpone a purchase because they know if they wait, it will be on sale soon.
Value-added promotions such as a free instructional course with every purchase, complementary training, bonus points toward future purchases or free trials build customer retention because customers appreciate the effort you put out to earn their business.
Unlike coupons and discounts that are short-term, you can build relationships with customers that have long-term effects with promotions that add value to the customer purchase. When combined with loyalty discounts, you can develop a long-term strategy to build customer confidence, increase your referral rate and boost your brand identity.
Regular sales and marketing promotions can affect your bottom line in the long run. If you hold regular discounts, you usually can expect increased sales during those times. The total profit from the sales increases your company’s annual profits and may make up for slow periods of sales.
When planning your annual budget, you can take into account planned promotions you know will bring in additional sales. As part of a long-term budgeting plan, customer-oriented promotions can play a significant role in boosting your profits.