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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Six Tips for Providers of Intangible Services

United Airlines' forced ejection of a paying customer to accommodate United employees shocked everyone. Not only manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and New England Compounding Center, but also service providers, must protect the interests and well-being of their clients and customers. This obligation starts at the beginning of the customer's or client's journey.

The client journey includes all of the client's interactions with a company or brand, from awareness to engagement to decision-making and finally to purchase. However, service providers generally provide intangibles, such as content for websites or survey results, and the client's and the vendor's definitions of success are often subjective.

Guiding the Client Journey To Achieve Success

  • Develop marketing material that is free from hype and exaggerated claims. You don't want clients to complain later on that you did not deliver as promised.
  • Know your customers and prospects, and understand their needs. Why have they approached you? What are their expectations? What special circumstances and requirements do they expect you to address?
  • Work with clients to develop a realistic and mutually acceptable definition of success, for instance a 15% increase in website click through. Quantifying success in some way may be challenging, but it will help prevent future disagreements.
  • Craft contracts that are straightforward - and truthful. Address clients' needs, but omit disclaimers written in small print. Airlines have detailed customer contracts that allow forced bumping, but customers are rarely aware of these provisos.
  • Provide redress for dissatisfied clients. Writing white papers, books, and other content are services where clients and service providers may have different opinions about output. What satisfies the author may not satisfy the client. At the onset, the client should provide examples of others' work that meet the client's expectations. The writer should provide outlines and drafts. And, the contract should provide for revisions.
  • Agree to meet clients' deadlines when possible, but do not agree to deadlines that are physically impossible or that will result in inferior work. If pressed, negotiate a more reasonable schedule or omit some items from your statement of work. Do not compromise quality to meet unreasonable deadlines.
  • Seek engagements that match your skills, experience, and resources, and carefully work with the client to define a successful project. Make sure there is a match. If not, refer the project to a colleague with the appropriate time and resources. This colleague may eventually return the favor.

Winett Associates helps companies understand their customers and markets.

Copyright © 5/17 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.


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