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SENSITIVE SERVICES MARKETING  

BY JAGDEEP KAPOOR

There are times in the consumer's life where the greatest benefit he seeks is sensitive caring and compassionate behaviour from the marketeer. Money is no consideration and the consumer is willing to pay a substantial price as long as his family member feelings are sensitively handled. These opportunities come in times of immense joy or extreme sadness, during times of grief or happiness, during times of birth, life and death.

Services marketing is spreading far and wide, whether in telecom services, banking, hospitality, medicine, courier, airline or any other field. However, services which do not show sensitivity during special times of joy or grief may not last long as brands. This has to be considered specially so that the brand is remembered as a caring, thoughtful brand rather than an insensitive, cold brand. Brand personalities are recalled and felt based on whether they are sensitive or not.

In India, during the death of a loved one, people have to run from pillar to post, in some cases for completing formalities or getting certificates. Some service departments whether at the medical, law or hospital services are good and caring, others are simply cold and indifferent.

Our family went through a major tragedy A few years ago. I lost my younger and only brother Sandeep at the age of only 31 years at New York. The family was grieving and my parents were shocked and were to be taken care of medically as they saw their young son cremated. This was a moment of grief for all of us.

Gracefully, the funeral home at New York offered their help and services in a very sensitive manner, causing virtually no pain or effort to run about for the certificates. Or the remains. This process was serene, without any trouble or need for greed. This definitely helped soothe the family.

Further, the security and customs at New York, London and Mumbai were very thoughtful in their approach. British Airways the airline went out of its way to get tickets reserved in a. busy season making the journey of the family full of caring, sensitive actions and thoughtful behaviour.

These brands would be remembered and used well for their 'sensitive' services marketing. The travel agent's constant help and monitoring too showed immense care. In the service industry, there are umpteen opportunities wherein an urgent medical parcel has to be couriered which could be save a life, an important message of joy has to be conveyed in a timely manner and telecom services help, a birthday or an anniversary celebration has to be handled by a five star restaurant and many more such consumer opportunities could be used to market services' sensitively.

'Sensitive' services marketing will go a long way to build consumer loyalty and franchise. In fact, in my book '24 Brand Mantras", I stress on building brands through the heart and mind. In a recent case after an Executive Health checkup at Hinduja Hospital, a patient was very keen to know as to when he would receive his report. The nurse and the doctor took special care in ensuring that not only the patient was informed sensitively but also that the report was handed over in time thus relieving the patient of a lot of tension .The patient definitely would think positively about the Hinduja Hospital brand.

In another case of joy, the Taj Group of Hotels went about celebrating the achievement of a family wherein One of the members had landed. lip with a good job and was sharing his joy. This multiplied multifold when the Taj staff also sensitively appreciated and enhanced this significant moment.

After all consumers like all human beings are emotional people governed by the heart as well as the mind. The same service, offered sensitively whether by action, tone of voice or gesture could go long way in being humane as well as thoughtful. This is what good marketing is all about.

In my opinion sensitive marketing begins at home. If values are inculcated to respect your parents and to be loving and caring, then the service providers has a natural flair for sensitive marketing. It is important that a customer only looks good with the product usage but that l1ealso feels good with the brand experience. There are times when the deep need of the consumer needs to be understood carefully and served in a fragile manner rather than in a callous manner.

In India, we are fortunate that family values are given good importance. The customer is actually an extension of your family and actually provides for the family, because he purchases and pays money. Therefore, it is our duty to sensitively provide good service to our providers. Consumers love brands with their mind and heart, if they are treated well and in a thoughtful manner.

Be sensitive to consumers. Practise sensitive service marketing. And build positive, lovable, caring brands.

Copyright 2005, All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
No part of this document may be modified, reproduced, stored, deleted or introduced in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (Electronic, Mechanical, Photocopying, Recording or Otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of the document.
The author is Jagdeep Kapoor, Brand Guru and Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy.
Tel: (022) 28477700/7701 (022) 28470214/15 Fax:022 28477699
E-mail : jkapoor@samsika.com