Companies have to try harder

by The Times 100 on Wednesday 6th May, 2009

A new product or service will have a plan to reach its audience. An existing product or service may need to be refreshed in order to increase public awareness and/or market share. Companies have to try harder when business is tight. The question for an organisation is which approach it will take to relaunch its brand. Different companies will choose different approaches depending on what they want to achieve. For Skoda (a Czech car manufacturer and now part of the VW Group), it needed to assess the barriers which prevented it from selling more cars. It used a SWOT analysis which shows the balance of internal strengths and weaknesses alongside external opportunities and threats. Skoda discovered it needed to change its image and took the opportunity to develop a new market approach using its key strength of 'happy customers'.

On the other hand, first direct already knew it needed to improve its banking service so used market research to find out what customers wanted. This focus on customer satisfaction helped it set a precedent for many other banks to follow, with online/telephone banking and 24/7/365 banking access. The method used to analyse the current status of a product or service, is just as important as what to do with the gathered information. A company will decided on a strategy to address the issues to relaunch its brand. In 2004 Skoda came second in a customer satisfaction survey of the best cars on UK roads having improved its quality to such a level that it was beaten only by Lexus. (BBC News, 20 April 2004) Later, in 2008, Skoda gained a new audience when it launched the new model 'Superb' which had a long wheel base, giving it the appearance of a 'junior limousine', and with many luxurious extras (The Times, 30 May 2008).

first direct won an award from the Institute of Customer Satisfaction for the finance sector in January 2009. It was voted for by customers and reflects the fact that putting its customers at the heart of what it does makes first direct stand out from the competition.

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