Case study 1
Case Study on Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning
Profiles Group is a leading interior decorator and designer in the country. Mr. Neerav Gupta, one of the partners in the group has invested a good amount of money in the business. The other two partners namely Mr. Pratham Gupta who is a distant cousin of Neerav and Mr. Dev Suri are mainly into managing the firm’s country wide operations. Mr. Stanley Pereira, who is more of a sleeping partner, looks after the administrative and financial aspects of the firm.
Profiles Group has around 44 service centers in the country including state capitals and several developing cities. Since the firm’s inception in 1998, its progress has been unstoppable. The clients include many reputed companies, hotel chains, popular celebrities and even hospitals and commercial banks.
A brief background of the Partners:
Neerav Gupta had a family owned business that was into manufacturing wooden furniture but Neerav‟s interest was more into decorating. So, after completing a Master’s course in interior designing from a reputed college abroad, he decided to start his own interior design services. Meanwhile, the furniture manufacturing business was handed over to Pratham Gupta due to property and family settlement issues. But, Pratham decided to join Neerav and they both started a partnership firm.
Dev Suri, a friend of Neerav who had been living abroad, sold out his real estate business and had decided to settle on the Indian soil itself. He offered help by providing additional capital and his knowledge of real estates did help the firm although in a small way. Stanley Pereira, an experienced teacher and consultant, had worked previously in leading interior designing colleges and was instrumental in making required changes in syllabus structure and interior designing courses. He has also written many books and articles on the topic. He had retired early due to family commitments but landed up in Profiles Group as a Partner through mutual contacts.
All the four partners are comfortably sitting face to face on a peach colored cushioned sofa which is situated near the window corner inside Neerav’s well-structured office.
Pratham Gupta feels that since their firm has invested large funds, they must enter into more market segments especially the smaller ones. And, regarding this issue, a professional conversation takes place among the partners. The talks are as follows:
Pratham: “So, what do you think about expanding our market segments to smaller more ordinary markets?”
Stanley: “What are you exactly trying to say, Pratham? Will you explain it?”
Pratham: “Listen guys, right now, we have 44 centers and competent people to work under us, but when we see our customer base, it looks small and limited. What I mean to say is that we also need to have those individual household customers who are looking for service expertise in this field. Most household customers don’t get the necessary information as to how to go about the interiors or how to decorate their home/offices etc.”
Neerav: “I agree with your points Pratham, but don‟t you think if we have to reach the smaller segments of the market, we need a different approach to cater to their needs. We would have to advertise and communicate to these segments in a customised way. This will increase the promotion budget and our focus on the existing customers may be compromised.” Dev: “I think we need to get a balance here. Pratham‟s points are valid enough and it will make Profiles group more productive. If need be, we may have to take help of a service consultancy in order to penetrate deeper markets.”
Stanley: “Okay… so, even if we allocate these segments, we need to target them in a way where we will know the immediate impact of these segments. We have to position in such manner that we get this customer base to keep moving towards us… however, the problem lies in the demand for our product in these segments!”
Pratham: “What is that problem you are talking about, Stanley?”
Stanley: “I will tell the problem, we know our product… but these individual customer segments will see our product as a one time purchase… Interiors and designing is done by a household customer at one point… very rarely, he will seek for a change or improvement. So, is it acceptable that we cater to their one time need and then let go?”
Neerav: “I do understand that point… But, that’s always the case in our business. Interior decorations and designs are usually considered one-time expenditure by household customers…. and as a matter of fact, that has not affected the way we do our business or on our returns.”
Pratham: “See, even otherwise it should not affect our firm because individual customer segments are willing to pay or spend on interiors. If they need a good, comfortable home along with a neat set of furniture then why don’t we cater to that need, even if it’s a one time demand from a particular customer? This is exactly what I meant earlier when I said, given the expertise we have, why don’t we use it to expand our customer base? Of course, we may have to develop suitable pricing strategies, promotion strategies for these market segments which is according to me, not a big thing to do.”
Dev: “Let’s first consult with our marketing hero and ask their opinion or suggestions as well”
Dev takes out his cell phone to dial Mr. Sunil’s number and he immediately gets the connection. Sunil is the head of the marketing section and he is very efficient in his job. He also has an acceptable humour quotient. Dev asks Sunil to come over to Neerav’s office.
Sunil enters the office:
Sunil: “What’s up, Bosses?”
Dev gives a brief explanation to Sunil about the potential market.
Sunil: “that’s a welcome sign actually… we have the necessary resources and we are available to any customer at any given point… So, I think it‟s a good idea that we update our customer profiles also… Only thing is we have to make sure we are targeting and positioning our customer segment in the way they feel comfortable to approach us…”
Pratham: “Nicely said Sunil… You are our man in this task…. We rely on you to make our markets bigger and customer segments broader…”
Sunil: “Always thinking in the interests of Profiles Group, Mr. Gupta… Not to worry… You tell me the confirmed plans and leave the execution on me…”
Neerav: “Well, what can I say? If we are sure about managing the newer segments which is existing out there, then our work is just to target them and position our product as per the given requirements”
Dev: “There is one important suggestion I would like to present here…. We need to ensure that we properly differentiate our existing customers from the newer ones so that we are not overriding one another or our customers don’t feel compromised at any point.”
Stanley: “That’s a really valuable suggestion, Dev… I completely agree with this point”
Sunil: “Me too… Mr. Suri has stated an absolute theory… But, it’s not that we can’t take the benefits from the two and use it for our purpose… Somewhere, we can link the newer segments with the existing ones and gradually Profiles Group will mean the same to every one. That is however applicable in the long term… For now, we need to attend our customer base on a one-to-one basis… So, we do it slow and steady”
Neerav: “Sunil, I don’t understand, but whenever you speak you visualize the big picture as well… I admire your quality and also that you are very loyal to Profiles Group”
Sunil: “Anytime Mr. Gupta, I am at your service….Just give the command and it will be done”
All of them laugh at that comment and decide to have an official meeting regarding the Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning strategies for the potential market. Within a month, the scheduled meeting is done with the involvement of key people and various points are noted down for implementation.
The marketing team after a brainstorming session also comes up with a collective idea about introducing Re-decorating and re-designing to be offered as a part of Profile’s group’s services. This meant that clients or customers can think about re-designing or re-decorating their homes/offices with the already available possessions and existing furniture. This also meant less cost to the clients. This idea was taken up seriously and plans to implement such services were already underway.
The next six months in the Profiles Group has made everyone busy with different tasks and agendas to be accomplished. Sunil is the busiest person around and he is actively engaged in marketing activities related to the targeting and positioning of their product to the new customer base.
Very soon, the results are noticeable in the Profiles Group. After a considerable amount of planning and hard work, the subsequent months showed positive results as given below:
The markets are segmented based on the income level of the household customers
Their needs, wants and demands are analyzed
These markets are targeted based on their desire, willingness and capabilities to attain the required interiors and furnishings.
Sunil headed a separate section namely Re-designing and Re-decorating Services at the firm’s main office. Sunil was immediately involved in making special centers for Re-designing and re-decorating services in different parts of the country.
Marketing section was taken over by a competent person – Ms. Sneha Agarwal who has over 8 years of experience in interior designing. She was chosen on the recommendation of Stanley Pereira as Sneha had been a merit student previously and Stanley had been her teacher.
Neerav had even managed to get some MNC‟s as the firm’s clients.
Positioning of Profiles Group’s product and services was done in three ways –
For the already existing customer base which include the corporate and business houses, film industry and celebrities and other big units who spend huge amounts on the interior decorations.
For the newer segments also termed as the individual household segments who have limited spending abilities but have a desire for elegant interiors at reasonable rates.
For the collective market – re-design and re-decor services were offered.
The structure of the firm’s web-site was made more user-friendly and included several videos showing how proper layout and interiors increased efficiency, easy movement, allowed more lighting and ventilation and created a feeling of well-being and comfort.
A CD was also launched which included these videos and the necessary information of the Profile’s firm with the contact addresses and numbers. The CD also included interview with certain well-known clients who were highly satisfied with the firm’s services. This established trust and good communication in the market.
Soon enough, the firm launches into environmental friendly interiors and develops „Go Green‟ initiatives that uses more re-cycled and renewable substances.
There was a plan to begin annual contests and games which involved household customer segments to give their ideas or suggestions for a well laid out interiors using eco-friendly materials and “Go-Green‟ initiatives.
The Partners and the interview:
It’s been two years now since Profile’s Group had moved into individual household segments.
All four partners are seated on the sofa inside Neerav‟s office except this time the sofa is of cream shade and a press reporter namely Namitha Goel is sitting on a single sofa across them. Namitha Goel had scheduled this interview and later will be published in the “Living Designs”, a new monthly magazine that deals with interiors. She begins with a direct question to Neerav –
Namitha: “Mr. Neerav Gupta, do you think the reason for the substantial increase in your customer base is due to the Redesign and re-decoration services?
Neerav: “Well, to a considerable extent, I believe it is so. Re-design is not about my taste or your taste. It’s about working with what the client owns and making them happy. Most people are good in re-arranging their stuff but they don’t have time or energy to do it. So, we offer them this assistance.”
Namitha: “How come you got this thought about making these household segments as your customers? I mean, your firm is associated with the influential clientele base and considering that, why did you feel that these household segments would prove to be a lucrative market for you?”
Neerav: “The entire credit for making individual household segments as our customers goes to my business partners here, my workforce and their efforts. Around two and a half years back, we had just got into a conversation in this very same office and Pratham suggested about tapping these markets with our available resources. Let me clarify that we decided to target this segment not for profits but we felt they too would benefit from our expertise in this field.”
Namitha: “According to the market survey, it seems that there is no close competitor for you in this business. So, your firm stands at the top like it’s been from a long time. What do you say in this matter?”
Neerav is about to answer but his cell phone rings and he attends to it quickly.
Neerav: “Excuse me, Ms. Namitha.., I have urgent business call that can’t wait…, Carry on with your questions and my team mates will answer. I have to go now.” He addresses his partners and leaves the office in a hurry.
The interview proceeds and remaining partners contribute their views. The interview takes another 45 minutes and Namitha Goel is satisfied with her work as a press reporter. She leaves the Profile’s Group office with a sense of achievement.
The next month’s issue of “Living Designs” carries the cover story of the Profiles Group with the partners‟ exclusive interview placed in the shaded column of the magazine pages.
Questions: 1 Examine the progress of Profile’s Group as a leading interior designer and decorator.
Questions: 2 What kind of change was observed in the STP strategy of the firm and how was it useful?
Questions: 3 Evaluate the working of Profile’s group with respect to the Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning of markets. Do you have any suggestions for the firm?
Case study 2
Determining the Marketing 4 P’s
Any business organization in order to be successful needs to have a clear picture about the 4 P’s of marketing. This forms the basis on which business functioning takes place. What are these 4 P’s and why are they important? Let’s assume that we are interested to start up a small business enterprise and for that we have the necessary capital, skills and people. And now, since we are in the initial stage of enterprise formation, we need to answer the previous question.
Marketing mix comprises of the four basic elements or components which are termed together as 4 P’s of marketing. They are:
Product: what is it that we have to offer to the market? What can it include? In what ways can it be modified, changed, expanded, diversified etc.? Will our products be accepted in the market? If not, how do we create a market for our products?
Price: at what value should the products be offered in the market? What should be the returns? Will it be worth to the buyers? What variations, differences and strategies can we adopt in order to earn a fair margin and also gain customer satisfaction?
Place: where must be our products available? How soon it’s demanded in the market? How quick we can deliver it to the consumption points? Who do we need to involve in the distribution of our products? How much will they charge for their services?
Promotion: why do we need to promote our products? Will people be aware of our products if we don’t do any promotion? If we need to promote our products, what kind of message we should convey to the market? In what ways and methods we can carry out the promotion?
Unless we know the answers to the above questions, we cannot make our business function. Therefore, after considering the strengths and weakness of our likely enterprise and studying the market opportunities, we decide to manufacture wax crayons.
The main reason behind this decision is –
- We can come up with an effective 4 P’s either by marketing the crayons ourselves and if not, we can take orders by being the suppliers to our clients.
- We know that our market mainly comprises of educational institutions, drawing and painting classes/centers, artistes, even big companies use crayons extensively.
- We realize the potential of wax crayons as we can offer variety in sizes, quality, colors, price ranges, wholesale and retail prices etc. We can even venture into related areas such as wax artic rafts, wax candles, oil colors, paint etc.
- We can have direct contact with our clients and in the long term we can even engage an agency to market the crayons.
- We know that promotion strategies can be based on the type of our customer segment and we could easily do it through advertising on Television, newspapers, children’s comics, notebooks, school notice boards, etc. We can even sponsor or conduct drawing competitions, art exhibitions or we can have contractual agreements with the stationery outlets, art schools etc. However, we are still apprehensive about our marketing mix. We are yet to confirm about our marketing mix and until then we are unable to finalize on our decisions or start with the implementation process.
Question 1.How will you determine the marketing mix for our enterprise?
Question 2.Do you have any ideas to make our enterprise successful particularly by enhancing or improving the marketing mix?
Question 3.What do you think will be the challenges in making an effective marketing mix since our enterprise is a new one?
Case study 3
Good Publicity vs. Bad Publicity
Roger Twain walked as usual with a pleasant aura and at a leisurely pace to his office. Roger is a PR Manager in one of the top FMCG companies of the world. His office along with the PR staff was recently shifted from sixth floor to the second floor of the building. The reason was simple enough. Top management did not want external parties to wander around the whole building in the excuse of meeting PR staff or the PR manager. Roger Twain in fact, welcomed this shift and was glad that he didn’t have to wait for the lift as he could now very well use the staircase. Roger has around 15 years of experience in PR and handling Publicity related issues. He had worked with several companies as well as non-business organisations and institutes.
Roger currently in his 53rd year has achieved lot of success in his career as a professional expert in the field of PR and Publicity handling. Although his plans to start his own PR Consultancy firm didn’t work out the way he wanted, he was actively involved in several worldwide workshops, seminars and presentations. He even wrote articles on PR strategies and published some books on PR. Roger’s ideologies as a PR professional was –
“No News is not good news… You have to be in the news – good or bad. And, the objective should
be to convert bad news into good news.”
“You cannot create bad news about your company. At the same time, you cannot create a good one. You can only communicate it in good or bad way.”
“PR is about being in the news – time and date don’t matter much.”
“It’s not about being right or wrong – it’s about being clear and sticking to the truth and using it positively.”
“Everyone has a right to express… But, a PR person should consider it as a righteous Duty”
“Your Company can show only performance. PR has to talk about it.”
A few of his career achievements in the different organizations that he worked for are as follows:
Problem Situation 1: Some of the cosmetic products of Jasper Ltd. were selling in the market beyond its expiry date. A media report exposed and presented this story to the public that Jasper Ltd. was desperate to increase its sales and did not consider consumers’ interests or their well-being. This led to decrease in sales volume even in the other product categories of the company. Due to incorrect operations of some channel members and retail outlets, old stock was sold to the consumers after the expiry dates. The outcome was Jasper Ltd.’s low profit margins.
Challenge: Roger’s challenge was to make consumers more aware and responsible while purchasing the company’s products without ruining the distribution channel relations and at the same time making the company socially responsible.
Solution: Roger suggested to the advertising department to create a public awareness ad regarding the importance of checking product expiry dates before buying. He advised the management to take back old stock from the retail outlets and distributors by offering a reasonable price and also prescribing the time limit within which those products should reach the company. Roger’s view was that distributors will mostly see their benefit and continue to sell the old stock. If they sell it back to the company itself for a price, they would definitely make an effort to get the new stock and sell those to the consumers. Roger’s logic was “it is better to spend some money on getting back the old stock than let it sell in the market at the risk of company’s reputation.” Meanwhile, consumers will also be aware about expiry dates of cosmetics when they buy it.
Problem situation 2: Acorn Seeds Company’s assistant finance manager was involved in some fraudulent activity and was accused of misappropriation of funds. This news became public and soon enough, company’s investors and stakeholders began to question the integrity and trustworthiness of the company. Company found it difficult to convince people that one person’s immoral intentions does not mean that everyone in the company is beyond trust and moral obligations. Furthermore, company’s products and services got severely affected and consumers started opting for competing products. There was bad publicity all around. Sales declined and situation got worse when finance manager unable to handle pressure resigned. Even though finance manager was not involved with his assistant, he was linked with him and given a bad treatment from outsiders even including some of the employees. Media accelerated this issue and created more hype than was necessary.
Challenge: Roger’s challenges in this situation was handling bad press, dealing with media people with patience and uplift the company’s integrity with good reputation. He also needed to make the financial department integrated with other departments and boost the employee morale. At the same time he had to take care that company’s products do not suffer in the situation.
Solution: Roger suggested to the top management to issue a public message in the newspapers/magazines and also at the end of the Company’s product ads on TV. The message was – “We value your trust in us as you value our commitment towards you.” Roger’s view was that once the fraud was committed and was out in the open, there was nothing much to be done but to move on accepting that such incident occurred and will not happen again. Roger also advised for just one press conference regarding this issue to put an end to this matter. The assistant finance manager had confessed and was told to resign instead of being fired. Soon enough, people forgave and forgot this issue, sales improved and company was on the track once again.
Problem Situation 3: One of the women’s facial creams produced by Jasper Ltd. was severely criticised by media and women. The belief was that the product contained acidic substance causing harmful chemical reactions on the skin. This belief was created when some women claimed that their skin discoloured/scalded after using this facial cream. Media reports provided some facts related to the product that made women who were using this cream more alert. As a result sales dropped drastically.
Challenge: First of all, Roger had to study the product and know its constituents. Secondly, he discussed with product research team as to why such claims could be targeted towards the product. Next, he had to face the media and women consumers addressing the claims and product’s safety.
Solution: Roger collected those facts provided in the media reports and sent them for verification with the skin specialists, research team and for laboratory testing. It was verified and proved that facts provided were immaterial in causing damaged skin. It was also proved that the cream contained no acidic substance or any sort of harmful chemical. Secondly, those women who claimed skin damage were questioned about their application of the skin cream. Two women confessed that they combined several other beauty products along with cream’s application. Others confessed that they were interested in making some quick money if company provided any compensation. Roger arranged a special press meet and provided all the relevant facts and information regarding this issue.
Problem Situation 4: Homely Anchor, a charitable organisation that mainly looked after elderly people in several old age homes was having a problem with its donations. There were anonymous donations coming from several places that it was difficult to track the funds and its allocation. The members of the organisation were themselves confused with the amount collected and amount spent since proper records were not maintained. There were gaps in the accuracy of the information and its updates. Somehow, a magazine columnist/writer got to know about this state of affairs and without much investigation published a small article in the magazine. The article stated how Homely Anchor was unable to manage funds and money received through anonymous donations remained anonymous. Although the article was not accusing of fraud, it hinted the readers in that direction. Within a few months of the article publication, some social activist groups and media started questioning Homely Anchor. There were questions raised on who were the anonymous fund raisers, amount of donations and what and how much was being spent where.
Challenge: Since Roger was working as a part-time Public Relations officer in Homely Anchor, he had to face the social activists and media on behalf of the organisation. He had to protect the privacy of anonymous donation givers and assure them as well as old age homes that funds are raised, managed and used for good intentions.
Solution: He merely gave open statements telling that a proper system will soon be in place that would ensure the accuracy and safety of records related to donations and fund raising. Shortly, he arranged for a small conference consisting of prominent social activists, charitable workers and media representatives to discuss and debate on the implementation of proper systems in charitable organisations. This conference gained lot of popularity and free publicity for Homely Anchor which resulted in more donations. An appropriate system was also implemented to record the transactions.
Problem Situation 5: The research and production team at Sparkly Company had designed a new and innovative technology of purifying water in their product – “Sparkler water purifiers”. This system was tested and proved that it was safe and that it purified water without destroying its minerals. Once it was approved, production plants were ready to manufacture water purifiers in the newly designed way. But, information had leaked to the rival competitor “Visor” Ltd. who immediately took advantage of the opportunity. Visor Ltd. issued statements in the press about this new technology of purifying water and that soon they will be marketing these products. There was a commotion in Sparkly Company due to this. Research and production teams began to accuse each other on the information leakage. Somehow, management was not able to control the situation. News spread about the rivalry issues and information leakage. Media was too interested in finding out which company would come out with the product first.
Challenge: Roger too found this situation difficult to handle. There was definitely an information leakage regarding the new method implemented in water purifiers. Roger’s immediate tasks were to find how information was leaked out and who would have done it. He knew the commitment levels of the company’s employees were not questionable. Second, he had to ensure that Sparkling Company was the first to introduce this technique and at the same time he could not accuse Visor Ltd. openly in public.
Solution: Since acquiring patents (exclusive rights) to the new technique in water purifiers was in process, Roger decided not to talk about it. He then released a statement in the press as “Sparkly Company’s dedicated effort towards manufacturing Sparkler Water purifiers with new technology was a long time process. It involved continuous research and lab experiments by the team. This technology shows our expertise and we will never compromise on our products.” After an internal investigation, Roger found that company’s certain e-mails were hacked and through that, information had leaked to Visor Ltd. So, systems and networks were made more secure. Roger made it clear in his public appearance in the media that crucial information did leak out due to the insecure network and computer systems. But, he was careful not to mention names or make any accusations. Media turned their attention to Visor Ltd. questioning its integrity, ethical and business values.
1) Identify the qualities of Roger as a PR professional and analyse his role in the companies that he worked for.
2) In the above problem situations, was there any other approach that Roger could have adopted? If yes, suggest some approaches. If no, why do you agree with Roger’s approach?
3) List the PR tools and strategies that were adopted by Roger in dealing with the problem situations.
Case study 4
Personal Selling – Professional approach
“Keep Fit” is a medium-sized outlet exclusively dealing in exercising equipments/machines and fitness accessories and sometimes in sports equipments also. It has 27 sales persons employed under it. Owners of the outlet – an active middle-aged couple have several contacts abroad through which they place orders for the necessary and required equipments. Once an order is placed for particular equipment, it takes atleast 2 weeks for the equipment to reach the outlet. Secondly, the sales force is involved in cold calls, constantly checking upon new orders from the existing customers and getting new customers to place orders for these equipments from in and around the city. Sometimes, they travel to other nearby cities seeking orders and new customers.
Some of the equipments that Keep Fit sells are –
Cardio equipments such as Treadmills, Stair climbers, Steppers, Bikes, Ellipticals, Rowers, so on.
Strength equipments such as Weight benches, Power racks and varieties, different kinds of Weight machines which is supplied as per customer’s requirements, lifting accessories, home gym systems, and other machines.
Fitness accessories such as pedometers, ankle and wrist weights, jump ropes, stretch mats, hand grips, exercise balls, pull and push up bars, so on.
Sports accessories such as soccer balls, volleyballs, basketballs, poles, boxing gloves, track pants and such other stuff if at all there is customer demand or they have placed such orders.
The owners have already realized the growth potential of these equipments/machines after analyzing the following:
- a) Since most people are becoming health and fitness conscious, there is lot of demand but supply is comparatively low.
- b) Due to heavy work pressures and IT related jobs that require people to sit in front of their computer systems for long, it has resulted into high demand for creating and maintenance of gyms in the companies and at the workplaces.
- c) The affluent class or groups especially celebrities and sports stars don’t mind purchasing and owning these equipments in their homes, the objective being creation of a personal gym at home.
- d) Fitness centers, gymnasiums and sports clubs are increasing in number and so is the demand for the exercising equipments and machines.
- e) Encouragement given to different sports requires the sports men and women to use such equipments and therefore, they have to be provided with such resources so as to participate in national or international sports events like Olympics.
Two more salespersons were recently recruited and selected by the owners. After the training and several exposures to the sales practices adopted by experienced salespersons, these two salespersons were ready for the actual job.
The first salesperson namely Mr. Jagan Das is hard-working and efficient in his work. It was observed in the training programme that he was alert to the situations and environment around him. But, at the same time he had a weakness of listening a lot to other people’s opinions and not contributing his thoughts or ideas. However, he was enrolled in a short-term communication course to improve his language skills and expressing his thoughts. The second salesperson namely Mr. Tarun Mehra is an enthusiastic and determined chap. He likes to share ideas and given the time, he would talk his way out. In the training programme, he asked lot of questions and after receiving answers would again question about why and how of things. His only weakness was his tendency to get over-enthusiastic about things and situations that he would forget about existing situation or problem.
In the first few months, Jagan and Tarun were getting along fine as they were assigned the same sales territory. Sometimes, they would go together to collect orders and even dispatch orders to the customers. Together, they were able to deal with complicated clients and achieve higher sales targets than what was assigned to them.
Lately, the owners observed small fights happening between Jagan and Tarun. They were not sure as to what caused the disagreements that led to fights but eventually, the couple decided that the salesmen needed to sort it out by themselves. On Jagan’s request, their sales territories were separated and now, Jagan and Tarun had to deal with different customers at different locations.
After Reading the Background Information, analyse the following two situations and answer the questions given at the end:-
Jagan is at the outlet’s veranda listening to how another sales person handled a customer’s complaint. He receives a call from one of the old customers of the outlet. The telephonic conversation goes as follows:
Customer: “From “Shape-up” Gym, I am Raghav speaking… Two months back, I purchased this treadmill from you for our gymnasium located at the city’s east and now it is causing some problem… till now whatever gym equipments we purchased from you had no problems of any kind”
Jagan: “Please tell me your problem Sir…”
Customer: “See, actually I can fix the problem… I know some people who can do it very easily… but that’s not my point… I need to know why the machine caused problem.”
Jagan: “You tell me your problem Sir, and then we will fix it for free…”
Customer: “I am not having a problem; your machine has a problem”
Jagan: “I will come at your place Sir, tell me your exact problem so I can note it down and solve it as soon as possible”
Customer: “I can solve the problem… I need to know whether the treadmill comes with a guarantee period and why a brand new machine is causing this problem”
Jagan: “I will come over there Sir and if it’s possible, I will bring a technical member from my team along with me…”
Customer: “No Thanks for your help… I will speak to your Boss about the treadmill’s inefficiency!”
Jagan: “Wait… let me know what I can do for… …”
The call is dropped and Jagan is unclear as to what he must do next. Should he call back the customer on the same number as appearing on his mobile or should he find out if he can trace the customer information from the sales records of the last two months or should his superior know about this incident? The customer appeared to be in a hurry and didn’t even tell about the problem. Jagan also wondered about how Tarun would react to this kind of call.
Tarun is busy entering some information into the sales records. He is asked to pick up a call from the superior’s office and following conversation takes place:
Customer: “Is this Keep Fit?”
Tarun: “Good evening Sir, yes it is… May I know your name Sir?”
Customer: “Who am I speaking to? … I am Jonathan from Lance Sports Club”
Tarun: “Mr. Jonathan, this is Tarun and I am a sales executive at Keep Fit… you can tell me your concern Sir,”
Customer: “I had placed an order for 7 pairs of weight plates, 6 pairs of dumbbells, and 2 exercising bikes – one upright and also 2 treadmills and volleyball”
Tarun: “I am listening Mr. Jonathan”
Customer: “Yes, good, now according to price-list, it says 3 treadmills, 3 exercising bikes, 6 pairs or weight plates, 6 pairs of dumbbells…. the thing is number of items mentioned in the bill are completely wrong”
Tarun: “Just tell me the Bill Number and I will get back to you Jonathan… But, how many items have you received in actual numbers?”
Jonathan: “Well, that’s the problem… I have received the same numbers as I placed in the order… but, the bill and the list says wrong numbers… and only that volleyball is not received”
Tarun: “Okay…. Just see on the top left of your list… you will find the Bill Number… please tell me that…”
Jonathan: “There is no Bill number in this…”
Tarun: “Please check it once again… there is a bill number mentioned at the top left or top right or somewhere at the top… Okay… tell me the date of the bill and your order placement date atleast”
Jonathan: “No, it’s alright, there must be a mistake… we will sort it out during the payment”
Tarun: “Mr. Jonathan… Please co-operate and tell me the bill number or the date so that I can verify it in the sales records and check the invoices also”
Jonathan: “No, that’s okay… do not bother about it… we will confirm later…”
Tarun: “Listen Mr. Jonathan, I can just…. …” But, before Tarun tells anything more, the customer has cut off the call. Tarun feels uneasy about the conversation. He was being so helpful and wanted to clarify the figures but it looked like the customer was not interested to do so. Should he follow up on the customer after finding out the necessary details or should he just keep quiet till the customer raises the issue once again? Should he tell this to his superior? He tried to imagine Jagan’s way of tackling these types of customers.
In both the situations, the salespersons have not met the customers personally. In Situation 1, Jagan is dealing for the first time with one of the old customers of the outlet. In Situation 2, Tarun had spoken to some other member of the sports club previously.
Question 1:- Identify the approach (plus points and negative points) of the two salespersons in the above situations and make a comparative analysis.
Question 2:- In both the situations, were the customers satisfied with how the salespersons handled their queries? Analyse the sales person’s and customer’s interactions in the above situations.
Question 3:- If you were a salesperson, how would you have handled the above two situations? Do you have any suggestions for Jagan and Tarun?