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You may choose only one of the above three options, yet you MUST get agreement from your tutor. Please note that this assignment is based on a review of relevant literature and available secondary data

MKTG 30673 - Improving the Customer Experience: Individual Assignment BRIEF: 2020/21

Scenario

You are an independent Customer Experience Consultant approached by several firms to consult them on how to best improve the experience of their customers. At this point in time you are about to choose to focus your energy on one client out of three different options:

  1. A firm that either implements ‘internet of things’ (IoT), or robotics, or customer self service devices in its service (i.e. Samsung Alexa, or firms that offer self-service checkouts such as stores or self-service check-in services such as airlines)
  2. A firm that adopts a sharing economy business model (any C2C firm, such as Airbnb )
  3. A firm that maintains a Call Centre (either in-house or outsourced) to provide service to its customers (any type of firm might offer this type of service, such as telecoms, banks, utility firms, retail chains, etc).

You are required to select a client firm and develop  a Customer Experience Improvement plan for the Marketing Manager of the client firm of your choice. In developing the report, you are expected to explore and review elements of customer experience relevant to the customers of your client firm and to develop an action plan for improving it. You are expected to produce a report that is theoretically underpinned by knowledge of the concepts relevant to improving customer experience and develop a plan that applies the theoretical approach that you have adopted.

Instructions

  1. You may choose only one of the above three options, yet you MUST get agreement from your tutor. Please note that this assignment is based on a review of relevant literature and available secondary data. Direct and personal contact with your chosen organisation is strictly forbidden.
  2. Submit your work in pdf format via NOW by 11 pm Monday the 17th of May, 2021.

Requirement

This assignment comprises a 4000-word individual report that represents 100% of the module grade. There are three sections to your report:

Section One: Introduce the reader of the report to a review of the current status of the customer experience of the firm’s clients. In this section you may identify a challenge the firm is facing, or a problem that customers complain about or the disadvantages of the current customer experience system in place. Remember your analysis will only be based on secondary sources (including publicity on the firm, social media posts, public comments on brand communities etc) or your personal observations/experience as a customer of the firm. Be clear about what the problem/challenge is in order to impress your boss. This section is rather relatively short [recommended about 500 words]. So, your analysis must be concrete and precise.   

Section Two: Provide a critical analysis of the literature on improving the customer experience in the context of the above options currently in operation within your chosen organisation. In order to do this, you will need to draw on relevant concepts, theories, and models identified throughout the module as well as examples of best practice used within the industry.  Remember you are expected to be critical in your review of relevant concepts and theories. This is really an opportunity to impress your boss with your knowledge! Demonstrate what lessons can be drawn from the academic literature and apply them in your proposed plan of customer experience improvement. [Aim for around 2000 words]

Section Three: Based on your analyses in sections One and Two, recommend a new strategy and action/implementation plan to improve the customer experience of your client firm. This section provides you with a chance to contribute to your firm, by applying the learning achieved from the reviewed literature and the desk research on the challenge at hand. In this section your ability to apply the theoretical leaning, as well as your strategy development and planning skills, will be considered. [Aim for around 1500 words]

Further Guidance

A. Content

Title page: Title page should include your student number, the module name, the name of the organization, title of the work, and word count. [Not included in the word count]

Executive summary: Should be a maximum of one page and should summarise the key points in your report, including all three sections. [Not included in the word count]

Section One: Provide a critical analysis of the how the firm manages the customer experience currently within your chosen organisation. The analysis includes identifying (1) what the company has done well and (2) what the company does not do well. In order to do this analysis, you will need to draw on secondary sources of customers’ experience of this firm’s service provision, and where possible/relevant, on examples of best practice used in the respective industry. In this section, you may want to consider:

- Any evidence from observations you have made such as a service blueprint and detailed notes about how different customers experience the service of the company

- Any customer feedback on the effectiveness of the customer experience (such as an analysis of social media posts)

- Publicity relevant to the journey of the customers of the selected firm.

If you need to display figures or evidence of the above, feel free to use the appendices section of the report. The key issue here is to provide evidence of the challenge at hand. Please note that ideally this section should not exceed 500 words.

Section 2: You will need to draw on ICE concepts theories, and models identified throughout the module that relate to the context of the selected option and the specific challenge at hand. You need to exercise your judgment on how to best utilise the academic literature to generate the conceptual foundation of your subsequent strategy and plan.  It is important that you do not simply describe the various practices of improving the customer experience, but rather how to use theory and wider evidence to analyse their effectiveness. To achieve the higher grades, you need to provide evidence of your analysis and relate the analysis to deep understanding of the literature on improving customer experience. You will need to demonstrate a sound understanding of the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of relevant literature and apply it to the business issues. Please note that ideally this section should not exceed 2000 words.

Section 3: Recommend a new strategy and a plan to improve the firm’s customer experience.  Justify your choice with reference to relevant theory. You need to ensure that your recommendations follow on from your analysis in sections one and two (e.g. it addresses the weaknesses that you have identified in your analysis and the theoretical foundation that emerged from the reviewed literature). Examples of a new customer improvement experience strategy could possibly refer (but may not be limited) to the following:

  • A comprehensive service recovery program
  • An interactive retail store design concept: using theatrical or digital technology
  • An improvement to the blueprint of the operations of the service firm
  • Augmentation of the customer journey using self-service technology

Of course, there are many strategies that you could consider depending on the nature of the challenge at hand, therefore you need to carefully consider all the concepts addressed in the ICE module to identify their relevance to the specific firm situation. Please remember that your suggested ICE strategy/plan may consider:

- How it fits with the company’s brand values and current brand position

- Any evidence about the strategic importance of the suggested practice(s)

- The extent to which the practices align with others used within the relevant industry sector

The key issue in this section is to apply the lesson learned from the literature review in a plan that is reasonable, justified and appropriate.  Remember to use appendices whenever suitable (you may wish to put summary tables, a Gantt chart implementing the time plan or a service blueprint in the appendices, instead of the main body). Of course, you are encouraged to use figures anywhere they seem suitable in the main text as well. The implementation plan should provide details about at least three activities the organization should implement to enhance the success of the new strategy.  These may relate to several elements of the Marketing Mix. Please note that ideally this section should not exceed 1500 words.

Reference List: This includes only references that are cited within the report. Use Harvard referencing style for in text citations and the list of references. Refer to the NTU Harvard referencing style guide https://now.ntu.ac.uk/d2l/lor/viewer/view.d2l?ou=6605&loIdentId=25435

Appendices: Do not use the appendices as a dumping ground – the report should be able to stand on its own without the reader going over unnecessary information. The appendix is to be used only to provide more detailed information, where relevant, so you need to exercise discretion as to what is to be included in the appendices versus the main body of the report.

B. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do we need a conclusion?

No, a conclusion is not needed.

2. How strict is the word count?

4,000 words are the complete maximum. The tutors are instructed to not read anything over 4,000 words.

3. Should I just use the academic literature that is covered in this module?

Consider that the academic literature that is referred to in the lectures and seminars as a starting point. You are expected to review additional literature to support the arguments presented in the report.

4. Is this a business report or an academic report?

This assignment is both a business report and an academic report. You should use the context of the selected organization to demonstrate your understanding and critical thinking of how to improve the customer experience. To demonstrate your academic critical thinking, you need to delve deeply and widely into the academic literature of the concepts discussed in the module. To demonstrate your business-related critical thinking, you need to analyse the situation at the organization you have chosen using available secondary data and to provide a well-justified strategy.

5. I am not clear on what goes into the executive summary.

The executive summary should be written last. It should contain the a summary of the 3 sections of the report.  If read as a standalone document it should suffice in fully briefing the reader about the proposed plan.

6. Do I need to develop a table of contents?

No

7. May I select a not for profit firm or a charity as a client?

Yes

MKTG 30673 - Improving the Customer Experience: Individual Assignment BRIEF: 2020/21


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