What makes consumers choose one airline over another or one mortgage provider over its rival?
Our research shows that your reaction to a brand depends on your experience of buying, using or owning it and not just on advertising. The most important part of that experience is often your personal interaction with people. This is an area that most companies donít understand or invest enough in.
Take airlines. Satisfaction with cabin crew contributes more to people choosing the same airline again than other factors.
Why do companies not spend more on their people when there are clear benefits? Here are two common reasons.
Itís too expensive
Many organisations know that people matter. But they donít invest in this area because they think it is a luxury they cannot afford. And itís true that some role models, such as the Four Seasons hotel group or Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, would be too expensive for most to copy.
But there are smart, affordable solutions that create a lot of brand value out of only a little customer interaction. First Direct earns the highest level of customer recommendation of any UK bank through just the telephone contact with its customers.
Customers at QVC, the market-leading television shopping channel, value their interaction with the stationís people Ė in this case not the call centre staff who take the shopping orders, so much as the relationship that viewers believe they have with QVCís onscreen presenters.
The importance is not clear
Satisfaction surveys can hide the importance of people. For example, choosing a mortgage is often very influenced by counter staff in a bank or building society. Research with customers at the critical stage, where they have received a quote but not yet signed a document, shows that their interaction with the mortgage providerís representative is the biggest single influence on their choice.
It is bigger than perceptions of the products and fees, which are often the subject of the brandís advertising and communications. Yet in the same research conducted after the loan is given, customers may have forgotten the good customer service they received and may focus more on general brand impressions. If you conduct your research at that point Ė and this is often the case Ė the very important role that your staff have played will not be clear. FT
A Now decide if these statements are true or false.
19 Advertising is by far the most important way of supporting a brandís image.
20 Companies often donít invest enough in counter staff.
21 Customers may become loyal to an airline if they like the cabin crew.
22 Spending money on employee training generally isnít very beneficial to a company.
23 Most companies need to understand more about how customers behave.
24 Four Seasons and Virgin Atlantic have invested a lot in their people to build brand value.
B Choose the best word or phrase to complete these sentences.
25 First Direct has created high customer satisfaction with _______________ interaction.
a)only a little b)frequent c)Internet-only
26 QVC customers feel that they have _______________ with the companyís presenters.
a)little time b)a relationship c)two-way communication
27_______________ donít always give a clear understanding of customers.
28Mortgage customersí experience with staff is _______________ influence on their decision to buy.
a)not considered a big b)almost never an c)the most important
29It is important to ask customersí feelings _______________.
a)at the right time b)before they become angry c)about advertising
30Brand advertising and communication often focuses on _______________.
a)customer satisfaction b)staff c)products and fees
A Complete the conversation with the words in the box.
see feel get down hang on need talk about donít think donít offer
JanOK, letís _______________31 to business. The aims of this meeting are to _______________32 the training budget for this year, and to Ė
PatIn my opinion, we _______________33 to work on team building. I _______________34 that we Ė
JanCould you just _______________35 a moment, please? The other purpose of this meeting is to agree the new seating arrangement. OK, now, how do you _______________36 about training, Pat?
PatSales could be better. I donít think our sales staff understand the product. Why _______________37 we plan a product training day soon?
JanI _______________38 what you mean but I think we need to do more. May we could _______________39 incentives, too.
B Put the sentences into a logical order to make a conversation.
a) This is Lee Simpson.
b) No problem. How about Tuesday at ten oíclock?
c) Great. So Iíll see you on Tuesday. Goodbye.
d) Iíd like to speak to Lee Simpson, please.
e) Hello, Lee. This is Dana Kirk. Weíve got an appointment next Monday but Iím afraid somethingís come up. Could we fix another time?
f) Thatís OK for me.
40 _______________ 43_______________
41 _______________ 44_______________
A Match the sentence beginnings (46Ė51) with the best endings (aĖf).
46I prefer to take only carry-on
a)of our soft drinks in a popular TV show.
47The T-445 is the market
b)class when we travel for work.
48When the New York branch is downsized,
c)leader, but the challenger is selling very well.
49To keep costs down, we all fly economy
d)about fifty jobs will be cut.
50After the new system is installed, weíll retrain
e)the staff to use it.
51We had a good result from the placement
f)baggage when I travel by air.
B Choose the best word or phrase to complete these sentences.
52We need to _______________ decision-making to give middle management more control.
a)relocate b)relaunch c)decentralise
53 Customer _______________ means consumers like to keep buying our brand.
a)image b)loyalty c)awareness
54 Americans usually say _______________ for a Ďsingleí ticket.
a)round-trip b)one-way c)return
55 After the new team have had time to settle in, weíll _______________ the situation.
a)reassess b)upgrade c)deregulate
56 In London, people talk about the _______________ rather than the subway.
a)motorway b)lift c)underground
57 When a famous actor says he uses a product, thatís called an _______________.
a)endorsement b)launch c)share
58 When you reduce the number of employees in an office, you call it _______________.
a)downsizing b)desizing c)resizing
59 At the end of a meal, a British person usually asks for the _______________.
a)check b)cost c)bill
60 A market _______________ is customers of a similar age, income or social group.
a)share b)segment c)leader
A You have received the following e-mail. Write a short reply (50Ė60 words). Include the following points.
∑ Apologise for the mistakes that were made.
∑ Explain that the employee who handled the arrangements is no longer with your company.
∑ Offer to arrange free transfers and accommodation for two visitors next time a meeting is held in Hong Kong.
Subject:Hong Kong travel arrangements
Dear Mrs Wong,
Last month my company arranged fights, ground transfers and hotel accommodation through your company, Star Travel. We were hosting a meeting for our regional managers here in Hong Kong. We were very unhappy with the results of the booking.
Though all of the fight arrangements were acceptable, two members of our group were not met at the airport as agreed, though their fights arrived on time. After waiting to be met, they finally took taxis. However, when they arrived at the hotel, it turned out that their booking had been changed to a different hotel. They again had to take taxis to get to the right location.
We were treated very poorly by Star Travel and feel we are entitled to compensation. Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss how we may resolve this situation.
Ms Eleanor Adams
B You work for the computer maintenance company Fisherís Computer services. You recently had a planning meeting for managers to prepare for the launch of your new maintenance service contracts. read the action plan and write an e-mail (90Ė110 words) to all site managers. Include the following points.
∑ The subject of the message
∑ Details about what is going to happen in the next four months
∑ Invitation to ask you any questions
Action plan: Service contract upgrade
Carry out market research
Finalise specifications of new maintenance packages
Train all sales staff in new product Site manages help prepare launch