Intangible products include freight forwarding, consulting, and investment banking, among others, and are typified with being rarely checked out, examined, or assessed. Therefore, potential customers often rely to the company’s sales promises, which illustrate the product’s features and specifications, packaging, and labels. On the other hand, tangible products are those that can be felt with all of our five senses, hence can be tested in general. However, a business cannot accurately test all tangible products. In order for consumers to feel at ease in purchasing goods that can’t be tested or experienced in advance, businesses have to ensure that there will be product fulfillment. Creating accuracy goals and surpassing them acheives product fulfillment. Businesses can also enliven the post-purchase experience through the right packaging
Online Product Fulfillment
Contentment in product usage or consumption depends on the sales promise and customers’ expectations. Some advertise better promises than others (e.g. superior product attributes, competitive pricing, product differentiation) thinking that customers will dig in the product. For instance, business-to-business (B2B) buyers have greater expectations when shopping online, as reported by Forrester Research, Inc. These expectations vary depending on the product. For example, an online grocer expects that an e-supermarket has a complete list of its goods and produce available in its webpage. Upon purchase, the e-grocery store promises a within-the-day delivery, which is important especially for perishable goods. It can be a challenge for the business owner on how to deliver its promise considering that there are geographical differences between the buyer and the seller.
Product Fulfillment Strategies
Generally, there are three fulfillment strategies that are directed towards the customer: one that is aimed at customer service, the other on customer satisfaction, and the third is focused on customer success.
- Customer Service
A customer service strategy should focus on surpassing industry standards. For companies to achieve this, they tend to focus on the overall availability of the product and its reliability. However, this plan of action fails to comprehend the things that consumers value. The problem is that companies are absorbed in meeting industry standards that they often don’t realize that even surpassing these benchmarks does not entirely translate to fulfillment of customer’s needs. This leads to customer dissatisfaction.
- Customer Satisfaction
Similar to customer service strategy, customer satisfaction aims to exceed industry standards. In here, companies focus on creating value, exceeding expectations, fulfilling the sales/product’s promise, and satisfying customers. Be that as it may, a misguided attention and focus on wanting to satisfy consumers may lead to unfulfilling the sales promise, thereby resulting to customer disappointments.
- Customer Success
Under this strategy, a company’s success is directly proportional to the consumer’s success. In doing so, businesses support their customers in achieving and fulfilling their needs. However, this strategy is resource-intensive. Only apply this strategy to valuable customers or situations, i.e. ones that represent a good investment.
Fulfilling Your Sales/Product’s Promise
In reality, businesses do sometimes fail to fulfill its promise. Maybe the product is not exactly the same as what was advertised or a whitening cream was not able to completely deliver its “whitens your skin in 7 days”-promise. It happens, but it’s not okay from the customer’s perspective. Here are some suggestions on how companies can better fulfill their promises.
- Make fewer promises. Remember that less is more. Make commitments you know you can deliver. It is always quality over quantity.
- Be careful with what you promise. This is parallel with making fewer but better promises. Advertisements and marketing campaigns are the usual channels of creating a promise and making it known to consumers. However, companies should carefully study what they intend to give or deliver to their customers and examine whether they can fulfill it. Otherwise, this may lead to customer disappointment and lack of brand loyalty.
- Improve your customer service. If customers are unhappy with your product, reach out to them personally and not through emails or SMS. Restore their trust while giving them a unique and fulfilling customer service experience.