Customer satisfaction is a major concern to any business that intends to increase its sales. This research will be based on the need to understand what customers expect from business in an effort to improve success of a business based on the improvement in the marketing applications in a B2B environment. The research is planned to use a qualitative approach to collect data on the research topic. As can be noted in previous researches, customers’ satisfaction is an important contributor to the success of a business and hence it cannot be ignored. This research proposal gives the significance of collecting accurate information on selection of right marketing applications, strategies and techniques to achieve enhanced and sustainable customer satisfaction. All these studies will be limited to the business to business level of commerce.
Customer satisfaction involves measuring how the services and products provided by a company meet customer expectation. By definition the term refers to the number of customers who feel that their transactions and dealings with a company exceed their expectations. Customer satisfaction is a significant indicator on the performance of a business especially now that businesses have to compete for clients. Marketing in an organization will involve initially understanding the customer as it is easier to satisfy their needs this way1. Customer satisfaction involves measuring the level at which products and services provided by an organization meet the expectations of the customer2. Meeting the customers’ needs is vital that way the business has a competitive advantage over others3. It is also a way of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Understanding the customer is a start off point to better products and services that will satisfy the customer. Issues concerning customers are who the target markets are, what gives them value, how to bring them closer and how to serve them better once they are part of a business4.
Customer satisfaction is however different from the perceived superiority of a company’s products. This is because satisfaction is based on meeting the consumer’s expectations. A product may be luxurious and superior but still rate as less satisfying than an inferior product because customers attach an expectation to each product based on what they need satisfied. Customer satisfaction is however a significant influence on the quality of a product as surveys on this area also indicates the loyalty of consumers to certain products and also the customer’s purchase intentions5. From these surveys the marketing department is then able to brand themselves in a way that meets the customer’s expectation. On its part the production department ensures that its products meet consumer expectations indicated in the survey.
Sustainable Customer Satisfaction
Conversely, research studies in service management have been conducted with regard to service quality in order to establish the factors that influence the customers’ perceptions as well as expectations of service quality and their impact on customer loyalty and satisfaction. The B2B sector has undergone intense competition as well as change in the customers’ expectations over the last decade6. Attention to quality in B2B environment is justified by the current socio-political changes including globalization which has resulted in a reversal in the customer habits for many products and services7.
Consumers now expect timely delivery, quick response, convenience, and efficiency all at a reasonable price. Hence sustainability in customer satisfaction can be defined as consistency in meeting the customer expectations for all the products and across all service delivery domains. This study seeks to investigate how marketing affects customer satisfaction by investigating the sustainability factor on time-based competition for B2B business models. According to Kotler et al (2008) customer satisfaction is a system of management which lays focus on the processes that ensure that the end result of the product and service meets the customer expectations. These processes with sustained customer satisfaction focus on zero wastage and doing it right the first time with emphasis on continuous improvement and participation of all the stake holders in the chain of good or service provision.
Interrelation between Marketing and Customer Satisfaction
Although customer satisfaction is primarily associated with the kind of services that are provided, there is still an important role of implementing the right marketing strategies in order to improve the customer perception and loyalty thus leading to a better customer satisfaction8. From a marketing point of view there are lots of areas which should be concentrated in order to attract the right population that may have a right set of expectations from a particular organization. If the right expectation setting is not done during the marketing phase then it may end up in disappointing the customers thus leading to a bad promoter score and impacting the overall customer loyalty. At the same time, in case if the marketing strategy is unable to set the right expectations before the customers then in that case there is a possibility of low customer satisfaction due to mismanaged perception and therefore it is important to create a balanced equation between the marketing strategies in order to achieve the required customer satisfaction.
Statement of the Problem
All businesses should endeavor to meet their customers’ expectations so as to maintain their loyalty. This can only be done through analysis of customer satisfaction by the businesses. In the business to business level, firms should also seek to do the same. However this information is not readily available and some of the firms do not place emphasis on understanding customer satisfaction. Hence, once the question about the importance of customer satisfaction on a P2P scale is answered, it would be very interesting to identify the key factors which may be responsible for the positive correlation between customer satisfaction and enhanced business outcomes. If the above two questions are answered it would not be difficult to conclude that how customer satisfaction is related to the achievement of success in business.
This research hypothesis is based on cumulative findings by study of literature related to the interconnections between the achievements of sustainable customer satisfaction through effective marketing techniques. The study seeks to establish “how can companies achieve the required customer satisfaction and sustain it through effective marketing techniques? In the last few years, many organizations have realized the importance of maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty in their endeavors to meet their goals and objectives. Indeed, many managers have realized that, the most valuable asset of the company is its loyal customers. As a result, many companies have invested heavily in research to understand how they can improve the customer satisfaction9 (McAllister & Vandlen, 2010). Although, there is a fair idea among the businesses about the importance of customer satisfaction and there is a willingness to find out all the techniques that can be helpful to achieve and sustain the same. Hot much research has been done to explore the marketing initiatives as a tool to improve and sustain the customer satisfaction level and therefore this proposal would target the following questions in order to provide a reasonable input for business to business models, to achieve and sustain customer satisfaction through the application of effective marketing techniques.
What is the role of marketing in setting customer expectations?
How does marketing impact the level of customer satisfaction after the services are delivered?
To what extent does marketing impact customer loyalty and net promoter scores?
The business to business level of commerce is unique from other levels in that the number of consumers involved is fewer though consumption volumes remain high10. This means that loss of one consumer in this level translates to a huge decrease in the consumption volumes. It is hence important to understand what expectations consumers in this level have and how these expectations can be satisfied to ensure customer satisfaction through effective marketing strategy and techniques. The research aims at ensuring this satisfaction is achieved by the various firms in the B2B level. The research will include a study of the problems associated with common customer satisfaction surveys and the inaccuracies brought about by these problems.
Justification for the Research
It is important to improve success in all levels of commerce as this will help in growing the economy. It is hence significant to understand how to increase success of businesses in the B2B level by analyzing how they satisfy customers.
Significance of the Research
Findings from this research can be used to improve businesses in the B2B level as it focuses on how they satisfy their customers. Findings can also be used by businesses in this level that wish to modify how they get information on customer satisfaction. Customer loyalty is extremely important for business growth and this is one of the reasons why it should be targeted since the time marketing of service takes place and therefore the significance of this research lies in identification of the marketing strategies which may help the business to business models to target high customer satisfaction and net promoter scores.
Limitation of the Research
Since most of those involved in the business to business level are busy people, it is hard to get them to spare time to participate in a research like this. Also some of those who participate may give incorrect or generalized information so as to finish quickly and go back to their duties.
Importance of Customer Satisfaction Analysis in the B2B Level
Businesses in this level need to conduct surveys on customer satisfaction so as to get a more insightful understanding of what their customers need, the target market’s composition and who are their competitors. These analyses also give the business an in-depth understanding of the trends in the market, customer loyalty, customer requirements, market structure, and the key satisfaction drivers or consumers. The literature discussed in this section is on secondary data available on the research topic and objectives of the research stated in the previous chapter. The literature covers concepts, models and theories on the research topic that have been developed from previous researches.
According to a study conducted by InfoQuest in the area of customer satisfaction and its relation to success of a business, it was established that a customer who was totally satisfied contributed 2.6 times more revenue than one who was somewhat satisfied. The study also found out that revenue from a customer who was totally satisfied was 14 times more that of a client who was dissatisfied. This study also noted that a customer who was totally dissatisfied decreased revenue at a rate similar to 1.8 times what the customer who was totally satisfied contributed11. These findings indicate that customer satisfaction has a major impact on the revenue made by a business and consequently on the success of the business on the B2B level. It is hence important for businesses to understand their customers and to conduct periodical market surveys to understand whether the business is meeting customer expectations. The research findings also indicate that in case the revenue in such a business started to decline, whether the business is meeting customer expectations should one of the key areas to check in an attempt to curb the decline. This study was done on 20, 000 customers and had been conducted in 40 countries.
Maintaining Sustainability in Customer Satisfaction
According to a survey conducted by one manufacturing company, 94% of their customers were satisfied with their products in a year. In the following year, the same company conducted a similar survey but with the help of another vendor and this time round the findings showed that only 64% of the customers were satisfied. Hence, there are a lot of factors that may make a difference to the customer satisfaction level in a very short time and therefore it is important to understand that on one hand where it is important to concentrate on achievement of high customer satisfaction at the same time it is also important to sustain the same level of customer satisfaction. The reason behind sustainability being an issue is that the customers keep on increasing their expectations with the service that are provided and therefore it is important to maintain clarity in the level of expectations being made on the basis of the marketing which is conducted12.
Impact of Marketing on Customer Satisfaction and Sustainability
While marketing for any business to business model is important in order to create the right approach towards the availability of a particular service, and this is one factor which immediately builds the expectations from the services which are provided and therefore must be effectively initiated and controlled. There is lack of literature that can suggest the interconnection between marketing and customer satisfaction so that during the initial phase of marketing a controlled approach can be applied keeping in mind the impact of the same on the customer satisfaction level during the service delivery phase. Research in the B2B level is more complex than in the business to consumer level. This is because in the B2B level, an approach that is multi-faceted is required to meet the objectives of the study; it is rare to find answers in this level using only one method or approach13. It is however important to analyze customer satisfaction so as to improve success in the businesses.
Sustainability of customer satisfaction is another factor which is quite important in any business to business environment as in this case the customer loyalty has a lot of impact on the revenue due to the number of customers being less in comparison to business to consumer model.
This research would utilize a three-way methodology in order to conclude and find answers to the research questions as specified in chapter 1 of this proposal. The primary research would be based on interviews which are conducted through the seed questions, created specifically to obtain the answers according to the research questions that have been mentioned at the beginning of this proposal. Case studies and extensive literature review would further help to back the analysis and its results which are obtained from the study conducted over the interview responses.
Individual in-depth interviews are used to collect the qualitative data. These individual interviews are semi-structured in the sense that a number of prescribed or seed questions are asked on one-on-one basis14