In the What is Marketing? tutorial we noted that marketers make decisions which result in value to both the marketer and its customers. Throughout the Principles of Marketing Tutorials we emphasize the importance customers play in helping marketers meet their business objectives. To drive home this point, in this tutorial we concentrate our discussion on understanding customers and examining their role in the marketing process. We will see that for most organizations understanding customers is necessary not only because of their effect on marketing decisions but because customers’ activities influence the entire organization.
Yet, understanding customers is a never-ending challenge. One reason is that not all customers are the same and, consequently, benefits sought by one customer may differ from those sought by another. Because of this marketers must continually conduct marketing research to evaluate customers and to determine what they want. And uncovering what customers want is made significantly easier if a company establishes methods designed to manage their customers.
In this tutorial we explore the techniques marketers use to manage their customers. We begin by defining what a customer is and why they are important to an organization. We then look at what tools and strategies must be in place to skillfully manage customers including the crucial requirement that marketers build relationships with their customers. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of how servicing customers is often just as critical as selling products to them.