Flashback to January 1996 – Client Service: The ‘good old fashioned way’

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Client Service

Client service can make you grow rapidly.

Here is an example of how client service and good customer relationships can be woven into an effective Marketing plan.

A Real Situation

At Chipworks, president Terry Ludlow reports that his team has achieved rapid growth since founding the company three years ago. They provide technical analysis of semiconductors for designers and lawyers working in the field of intellectual property development and protection. Their clients are the major semiconductor manufacturers.

There are several key elements of their business:

1. The client motivator is clear. “If you do anything in the semiconductor business, you’re going to infringe patents.” says Terry. The clients all need to pay attention to patents and patentability or they will inevitably be surprised.

2. The business is very technical. In response, they partner tightly with key clients. An engineer is assigned to each of the accounts. Client dialogue leads to new services by asking “What else would you like us to do? What are you not exploiting to its full potential?”

3. The ‘product marketing’ strategy is simple. Within their chosen field, they aim to:

  1. Be the best in engineering
  2. Be seen to be the best in engineering
  3. Deliver fast on client orders

According to Terry “Our most valuable asset is the client relationship, we keep in touch and we keep building trust; we don’t take an order that we can’t do well.”

4. Usage of tactical marketing programs is limited. They do an occasional small mailing. They attend lots of technical conferences – but NOT with a booth – it is just a convenient place to meet clients.

What can we learn? Client service!

Three healthy things are happening here, all based on old-fashioned ‘listening’ to clients:

  1. Client dialogue leads to better service and satisfaction, and more orders (i.e. ‘Selling’ success)
  2. Client dialogue also leads to new ideas for marketable products and services. (‘Strategic Marketing’ success).
  3. Client dialogue leads to growth within the customer base first by adding new services, then growth by adding new clients – this increases sales productivity and company efficiency (Financial success – Bingo!).

What can we do?

You can audit your own marketing strategy. Look for strength in each of the ‘Big Four’ key marketing issues.

Here is how Chipworks passes the test:

1. Know your Clients – They know who they wish to sell to, how these people buy, and they maintain a pro-active dialogue to learn more about client needs.

2. Assess your unique Opportunities – They have chosen a clear mission to create, communicate and deliver a well defined niche expertise.

3. Positioning – Their message is clear “Experience, speed, accuracy and clarity deliver the most value for your money.” This is not just marketing blumph – resources are hired for this, and focused on this. As a result, they get great ‘word of mouth’ advertising since this is a well-bounded market niche.

4. Marketing Mix (The 5 P’s) – The ‘Product’ definition is set to fit the ‘Positioning’ strategy. ‘Partners’ are the key customers. ‘Pricing’ is set to deliver quality, value and also sufficient margins to deliver on client expectations. ‘Promotion’ is modest, and focused on support of client relationships.

You can do all this to take the pulse at your company. Start today, and be a better marketer tomorrow!

This article by Peter Fillmore, was originally published in MARKETECH in January 1996.

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