Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some final thoughts on customer service and Internet Marketing

Today was the last day of class in Internet Marketing 370 at Northern Illinois. We said goodbye to our graduating seniors and three students recieved the certificate in Interactive Marketing. Good luck to them and to all those graduation this semester. It occurred to me that talking about customer service at the end of class as we did could either give the impression the topic was important or that it was not important enough to cover early in the semester. For the record, customber service can make or break an internet company, or any company seeking to use technology for better, differentiated, customer service. The Rogers and Peppers marketing model of IDIC (Identify, Differentiate, Interact and Customize/Personalize) is, I believe, replacing older persuasion models such as AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action). Older models are meant for the mass marketing world. In the interactive and direct marketing world, it is important to differentiate individual customers or groups of customers and treat different customers differently. Differentiation is meaningful for targeting and attracting the right customers but becomes critical with customer service. In class we looked at the British grocery chain Tesco's and how the company uses segmentation to send out multiple versions of its coupon offers depending upon customer needs in implementing the Tesco' loyalty program. Retention is important because of the cost of acquisition, the potential negative word-of-mouth from an unhappy customer and also because of long-term customer profitability. This discussion on customer service is a nice transition to database marketing next semester, where we will begin to see how databases can be used for targeted, segmented acquisition, service and retention. Stay tuned after a short break. Class begins again on January 12 for the Interactive Program at NIU's DeKalb campus. We will be teaching database marketing, marketing technology, IMC and direct marketing.
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