From customer service research to TQM

Date of publication: June 15, 1992


The paper we are giving this afternoon describes, in outline form, a case study which illustrates how research can be used as an integral part of a TQM programme designed to achieve improved customer satisfaction and, ultimately, an enhanced sales performance. The paper will also illustrate, we hope, the special importance of customer service research in business to business markets by showing how the information obtained can enable a company marketing industrial, as opposed to consumer, products to differentiate itself from its competitors. This last point is particularly pertinent in business to business markets where products are often non-differemiated and where product-related aspects (such as quality and performance to specification) can be taken for granted; here, it is the service and marketing performance of competitors which is liable to determine the final selection made by the customer. The study was conducted for Castrol, a company which has committed itself to maximising customer satisfaction through a wide ranging TQM programme which has been implemented throughout the organisation. Castrol has recognised that excellence in customer service should represent the core of its TQM programme. Although the company has undertaken customer service research previously, the study which forms the subject of today's discussion represents the most wide ranging and detailed review of Castrol's customer service performance and is also the first research undertaking initiated as part of a formal TQM programme. The overall objective of the research was to help Castrol assess its customer service performance and identify those aspects of its service which needed to be improved or communicated more effectively to the market place.

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