Customer Care Department

Complaints should be stated in writing to the Customer Care Department, by way of post, e-mail or fax, they may also be hand-delivered. They will then be forwarded to the Customer Care Manager at that particular branch. He or she will then take time to process the complaint and decide what needs to be done to resolve the problem, and then reply to the customer apologising for the inconvenience caused and stating what has been done with regard to the complaint. Enquiries and Complaints should be replied to within a maximum period of three days.

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It is also a policy of Lance Owen to reply to serious enquiries and complaints in writing, as it considered to be more courteous. I have used a flowchart to illustrate the general procedure for dealing with complaints. Suggestions are also handled by the Customer Care Department. They should be handed in writing to any member of the Customer Care Team. At the end of each month, any suggestions that seem to be consistent with a number of customers will be published on the company’s website, stating the suggestion and again, what has been done in response to that particular suggestion.

A2, Evaluating and comparing each organisations performance in meeting its customers’ needs In this section, I will evaluate and compare each organisations performance in meeting its customers’ needs. It will not be written in two parts, but in continuous prose. Delta has customers all over the world, but operates from a single headquarters, located in Addlestone, Surrey. Lance Owen has four stores, which aim to serve customers in the areas of Kingston, Richmond, Twickenham and Rickmansworth.

These two organisations are clearly very different and their customers require very different methods of communication. The fact that Delta operates from a single headquarters is very effective for a company that has customers all over the world. It relies on methods of long-distance communication to maintain fluent correspondence with customers. This is more cost efficient than having stores located wherever there is a potential for sales. In general, staff do not deal face to face with customers on a day to day basis.

Lance Owen has four stores located in the areas in which it aims to achieve sales. This is very different to Delta and a much more expensive way of communicating with customers, but may prove more effective for a company such as Lance Owen, as its customers can be more easily categorized into the areas in which they live, – Delta customers can be located anywhere in the world. A larger number of stores are a good way of advertising, and also an effective way of perpetuating a corporate image, – it is also a great way of making goods and services widely available to those potential customers.

Lance Owen customers may also communicate with the company by way of e-mail, fax or telephone. By providing numerous methods of communication, the company is increasing the ways in which it can satisfy customers’ needs. Both Delta and Lance Owen have an Internet website that allows potential customers to learn more about their organisations and the products which they aim to provide. This illustrates their wiliness to disclose information about the way they conduct business and enhance awareness of goods and services they aim to provide.

Internet websites can be accessed in countries all over the world and provide an effective way in which Delta can reach all its customers, and with Lance Owen in particular, it allows the company to increase awareness amongst communities other than those in the immediate area of operation. Delta aim to maximise the use of their Internet website, and it provides a number of benefits to customers. It allows customers to check the status of their orders, clarifying what books have been dispatched and what books are still on order.

If books are out of print, or under reprint, Delta always issue a report on their website and will always contact those customers who are directly affected by telephone, e-mail or fax. Lance Owen does not use its website, other than to provide information about the company itself and the goods and service it aims to provide. However, it would seem that both company’s have tailored the use of their Internet website, in order to meet or exceed the needs of their customers, in particular. Delta has stated that any customer enquiries, complaints or suggestions that reach the General Manager, should be responded to within twenty-four hours.

Lance Owen have stated any enquiries or complaints that reach the Customer Care Manager should be replied to within a minimum of three days. I do not believe this is a result of Delta being more committed to meeting customers’ needs, but believe Delta are an organisation that is based upon the relationships it develops with customers, and must therefore respond almost immediately to any problems a customer may happen to have. Lance Owen aim to respond within three days and I believe customers will find this more than satisfactory.

It is also the larger of the two organisations, so it may be possible that those in managerial positions have a larger number of problems to deal with and respond to on a day-to-day basis. Delta can supply information on books about books for which they do not have complete information. They can supply lists of books in a particular area from which potential customers can place their orders. Delta aim to build a competitive edge over competition, as it seems that they are not only concerned about providing services that result in immediate revenue to the company.

Lance Owen has stated that they aim to provide mixed menu prices for a wide range of services. They also aim to build a competitive edge over competitors. Lance Owen has also vowed never to undertake work without a customers’ full authority and all products provided by the organisation are guaranteed for a minimum of twelve months. Delta has not issued any guarantees as such on its goods and services, which could demonstrate a low confidence in supplying products, which a customer may wish to sign up for. A large part of Delta business is to supply book quotations.

Tenders are usually sent to Delta on a spreadsheet, who check the current price availability and Discount available from the publisher. Customers do not pay for this service, yet it undoubtedly helps to increase customer satisfaction, – nearly all customers will require this service before making any purchase. Lance Owen offer free collection and delivery for Motability drivers and senior citizens, enhancing its public image and demonstrating a willingness to employ approaches that benefit vulnerable members of society.

Lance Owen will always supply estimates, advice and quotation upon request, whilst avoiding hidden extras. It would seem that both organisations employ strategies that will undoubtedly help to enhance the standards in caring for their particular customers. They are also willing to provide free services with regard to quotations and estimates, – services which almost all customers will require before making the buying decision. They are both providing vital information to customers, which will undoubtedly result in increased sales.

Delta employees are trained in an informal manner, whereas Lance Owen staff are subject to a training and development policy document. Lance Owen is a subsidiary of the larger of the two organisations and must therefore have stricter internal legislation in place to ensure that all staff are in a position carry out their roles safely and effectively, whilst contributing to the overall objectives of the company. Delta may adapt training and development programmes to the individual in question, on the basis of academic qualifications and practical experience, which may help the company to achieve major cost saving in these areas.

However, if Delta were to employ a more defined approach to training and development, like Lance Owen, there could be an increase in productivity, customer satisfaction and staff morale. Delta does not issue a code of conduct to its employees, whereas Lance Owen do, again, this may be because Lance Owen is the bigger, more established of the two businesses and may have learnt from experience the benefits that can arise as a result of disclosing an employee code of conduct. As part of the Lance Owen employee code of conduct, it is stated that part from polite manner and smart appearance, employees’ behaviour should be impeccable at all times.

In general, employees are required are required to avoid behaviour that may be perceived as unprofessional. This is an area in which Delta could learn from Lance Owen, as these statements regarding employee code of conduct will only work to achieve a corporate identity or culture, contributing to improved standards of customer service. As part of its employee code conduct, Lance Owen also stated that where uniform is prescribed, it should be worn at all times. Delta does not have a designated staff uniform throughout the whole of the organisation.

However, this suited to the job carried out by employees, as it is not standard practice for employees to deal with customers face to face, it is more important that they provide helpful assistance in a friendly manner. First impressions are important in any customer-orientated organisation and by issuing a uniform to its staff, Lance Owen aim to reinforce its brand image and perception amongst consumers. Delta has a limited parking facility for a small amount of customers and staff in contrast to Lance Owen who have excessive parking vacancies with regard to the expected number of customers at any one time.

Again, it would seem that both companies have invested in this area, based upon meeting the needs of their own customers. It should be stated that Delta customers will not normally go into the store itself and therefore Delta aims to cater for the minority of its customers who may wish to inspect the premises for initiating any business. Delta has exceeded satisfactory commitments in this area, providing enough vacancies for the projected amount of people at any one time. Lance Owen customers will nearly always come into the store, and the company must be more excessive in catering for customers who drive.

It would seem that by providing an extensive parking facility, the company will exceed customer parking expectations. In the way of parking, both companies are demonstrating a willingness to satisfy customer expectations, avoiding the chance of complaints. Lance Owen have a Presentation Manager allocated to each store, again this would not be particularly applicable to Delta, whose customers will not normally come into the store. A Presentation Manager is responsible for the overall presentation of the store and ensuring that customers have a pleasant shopping experience, – they will check the store for cleanliness three times a day.

Lance Owen aim to develop a competitive advantage over competitors by providing customers with a neatly, well-presented store. If Delta did employ a Presentation Manager, catering for the minority of customer who do come into the store, it would not prove to be very cost-effective, and it could be predicted that the disadvantage would outweigh the advantages. All Lance Owen premises are constantly monitored by CCTV, which can only help to make customers feel secure when dealing with the company.

This could be an important consideration for Delta who may wish to strengthen security for all of the company’s stakeholders. In the Delta Customer Services Department, Delta employ customer care staff, that each have allocated customers. The customer care staff are responsible for providing their customers with a high quality efficient service. This is very different to Lance Owen, who have customer care staff that deal with prospective or existing customers via the customer care department. Both organisations employ methods that suit the nature of the business.

Delta is based on the rapport customer care assistants build up with customers and having an allocated Customer Care assistant is an effective way of dealing with enquiries, suggestions and complaints. Lance Owen on the other hand, has Customer care department where all customers can make enquiries, suggestion and complaints. As Lance Owen has a large number of small customers, this is more cost effective than having delegated assistants allocated to each customer. Delta has fewer, very large customers, so it is important to have an allocated customer care assistant for each account.

Delta employs very informal methods of monitoring and assessing customer service. This may benefit Delta, as it is a small organisation, in which managers can scrutinize the conduct of staff effectively and efficiently. Much business involves having a relationship with customers and therefore, members of customer care will be able to relay general feedback from customers to managerial staff. Lance Owen is more formal in its approach to monitoring and assessing standards of customer service. It is monitored through the use of customer surveys, mystery shoppers and general internal observation.

As Lance Owen is a subsidiary of a relatively large organisation (Vauxhall Motors), it may be that they need to report standards of service at regular intervals to ensure Vauxhall is happy with the way it is represented by Lance Owen. It is not possible for Delta to have a clear perception of their standards of customer service and its informal approach means that there are not methodical strategies in place for responding to rapidly changing customer requirements. A more formal approach allows a company to establish whether standards are improving or getting worse.

Annual comparisons can be made and it is possible to decide on and evaluate strategies employed, in an attempt to improve all round standards of customer service. It would seem that Lance Owen has a more structured approach to dealing with a wide range of customers. They employ strategies that satisfy a broad range of customer needs. They have a more formal approach to producing internal policies and codes of conduct, – this may be because it is a subsidiary of a very large organisation, whose customer appeal is partly based on achieving high standards of customer service.

They are also the more structured of the two organisations when it comes to monitoring and assessing customer service standards, which may also be because Lance Owen needs to report to Vauxhall current standards of practice at regular intervals. Delta have a more informal approach to customer service and it would seem that as they are relatively small, they aim to adapt certain practices in order to deal with particular customers. Instead of having one department dealing with all customers, – assistants are allocated to each customer, who are expected to ensure the customer receives a satisfactory service.

This is a more personal approach than that of Vauxhall. Both companies employ strategies of providing high quality customer service according to the nature of their own customers. There are great differences in the way it is conducted yet they are the same in that the strategies employed are designed to meet or exceed customer expectations. A3, Recommendations for improving the quality of customer service in each organisation (a) Delta International Book Wholesalers Ltd. Monitoring repeat business Delta creates customer accounts for all of its customers.

Therefore, it is in a good position for monitoring the rate of repeat business. This may allow the company to establish the customer care advisors, who provide a high quality, efficient service to their allocated customers. It will also allow the company to realise the customers who are prepared to spend a lot of money on the goods and services Delta has offer. Opening up affordable opportunities for promotion and target marketing, which could possibly result in increased sales. Investigating the loss of repeat business

If Delta were to more vigorous in its monitoring of repeat business. They would be able to investigate the loss of repeat business. This would be made possible via the use of questionnaires or telephone surveys. These would be conducted in a friendly, polite manner, allowing the company to respond to changing customer needs, whilst constantly monitoring and assessing its customer service standards. By demonstrating a willingness to investigate reasons for the loss of business, the company will enhance its image, by developing a greater regard for customer perceptions.

Using benchmarks to monitor performance Benchmarks could be used in areas of customer care or after sales service. This would involve closer scrutiny of current standards of practice and setting targets for customer care staff. Setting targets for staff will inevitably result in a more ambitious workforce, who becomes increasingly conscious of how they perform on a day-to-day basis. Increased efficiency and energy amongst members of staff will take the form of improves customer service standards and practices. Quality circles

Quality circles could be used amongst those who work in the company’s export warehouse. For team working to be successful it relies on a competent, responsible workforce, who want to improve quality. Their ideas for improvement could be discussed at regular meetings, – quality circles. This is management philosophy, rather than a quality improvement technique. A quality circle is a group of workers who meet at frequent and regular intervals to discuss problems encountered in their work with a view to discovering a solution.

Problems studied may relate to safety, productivity, cost reduction, improving the working environment as well as quality; the solution is likely to impact on all areas, including customer service. Delta would need to invest more time into developing its workforce; for quality circles to be effective the business needs a well-educated and trained workforce capable of receiving, analysing and solving problems. If they are properly managed, they will encourage and motivate the work team to take pride in its work and accept responsibility for output. Improving training and development

Delta could take a more dedicated approach to training and developing members of staff. They could issue a training and development policy document, stating the ways in which the company aims to develop and train its workforce. Again, benchmarking would be an effective way of developing a more competent workforce. Establish league tables of performance based upon customer feedback If Delta were to become stricter in its scrutinizing of customer satisfaction, it may be able to establish league tables for customer care advisors based upon customer feedback, with an award granted at the end of each month.

This would motivate the workforce to become more critical of the way customers are handled. It is likely that standards of customer service would improve and members of staff would become more competitive and ambitious, resulting in increased efficiency. (b) Lance Owen Service and Parts Team should be fully accountable for services provided to the customer Members of the Service and Parts Team should be held fully accountable for services provided to the customer. Should any services prove defective, it should by the related employees responsibility to replace the service originally provided, free of charge (in unpaid time).

This would lead to a high standard of service being available to the customer, because employees would be unwilling to replace defective services without pay and would therefore become more dedicated in their approach to providing high quality services. This could have negative repercussions on members of staff, who would feel that this is an unfair policy. However, it is likely that these would be the members of staff who carry out defective would on a regular basis. Rewards for employees who work well

Members of staff who work in sales orientated departments could be offered commission base pay or rewards for meeting or exceeding proposed sales targets. This would result in a better standard of service being provided as it is likely that sales assistants would be anxious to impress the customer in hope of achieving sales, This could also have a negative affect, as employees will not be in a position to provide sound, impartial advice, as they will be primarily aiming for an increase in sales.