A leading provider of engineered products serving the oil and gas, power generation, chemical and manufacturing markets faced increasing competition from lower cost providers from China and other parts of the developing world. The company faced an increasingly commoditized marketplace with relatively low levels of perceived product differentiation. Therefore, the company hired Applied Marketing Science (AMS) to identify ways to differentiate itself from the competition on key elements of service that went beyond the product.
What We Did
AMS conducted detailed research to establish the end-to-end customer journey from initial contact and sales through installation and post-sales activities, such as ongoing maintenance, customer support and spare parts delivery. The research involved detailed, open ended, in-person, one-on-one conversation and ethnographic observation with professionals throughout the entire value chain including end users and engineers as well as designers of the systems that the products are a part of.
The research covered personal interactions, the timeliness of communication, the skill and talent of employees, as well as interactions with the website and the quality of packaging (i.e., with respect to the delivery of spare parts). In summary, the work encompassed all aspects of the experience of interacting with the company, including, but not limited to, the physical product itself.
In addition to the deep qualitative analysis, a quantitative survey of customers established ratings of the experience across the full range topics. Using multivariate analysis, we established the drivers of satisfaction with the company and in each of the service areas. We also evaluated satisfaction with the competition on these items. These results helped our client prioritize the most important areas to focus on to improve the customer experience and stand out from the competition.
The results helped the company differentiate itself in a commoditized marketplace. Specific changes included:
- Shortening the acceptable callback time for customer service requests
- Streamlining the management of spare parts to integrate online billing and inventory
- Providing additional training in areas of product usage and maintenance
The results helped the company increase customer loyalty and deepen customer relationships. This translated into reduced customer attrition and increased repeat business.