Summary

Today's customers face a growing range of choices in the products and services they can buy. They base their choices on their perceptions of quality, value and service. Companies need to understand the determinants of customer value and satisfaction. Customer delivered value is the difference between total customer value and total customer cost. Customers will normally choose the offer that maximizes their delivered value.

Customer satisfaction is the outcome felt by buyers who have experienced a company performance that has fulfilled expectations. Customers are satisfied when their expectations are met and delighted when their expectations are exceeded. Satisfied customers remain loyal longer, buy more, are less price sensitive and talk favourably about the company.

To create customer satisfaction, companies must manage their own value chains and the entire value deliversystem in a cxistorner-centred way. The company's goal is not only to get customers, but, even more importantly, to retain customers. Customer relationship marketing provides the key to retaining customers and involves building financial and social benefits as well as structural ties to customers. Companies must decide the level at which they want to build relationships with different market segments and individual customers, from such levels as basic, reactive, accountable and proactive to full partnership. Which is best depends on a customer's lifetime value relative to the costs required to attract and retain that customer.

Total quality management has become a leading approach to providing customer satisfaction and company profitability. Companies must understand how their customers perceive quality and how much quality they expect. Companies must then do a better job of meeting consumer quality expectations than their competitors do. Delivering quality requires total management and employee commitment as well as measurement and reward systems. Marketers play an especially critical role in their company's drive towards higher quality.

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