Effective marketing of services is vital in a firm’s effort to attain a high competitive advantage. To attain this, firms’ management teams must consider various marketing concepts. Some of these relate to internal marketing, customer satisfaction and loyalty (Bansal, Mendelson & Sharma, p. 76). This paper outlines a comprehensive definition of internal marketing, customer satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, it also evaluates the relationship between the three concepts.
Definition of internal marketing
Internal marketing entails the various activities which are performed by the marketing function within an organization to establish a strong relationship with the internal stakeholders. Alternatively, internal marketing can be defined to include any form of marketing within organizations with specific reference to the staff to improve the firm’s external market performance (Lewis, p. 47). Internal marketing is aimed at attaining a greater influence on the employees and gaining their commitment towards the firm’s marketing initiatives for example product development and marketing campaigns (Kourdi, p. 13). Therefore, it is true to assert that the concept of internal marketing entails viewing the employees as part of an organization in its effort to attain the predetermined goals rather than perceiving them as a cost (Papasolomou-Doukakis, p. 87). This means that the concept of internal marketing emphasizes viewing the employees as one of the most important organizational assets.
The concept of internal marketing asserts that employees should be considered as an internal market. As a result, they should be treated as internal customers in organizations’ effort to attain competitive advantage (Varey & Lewis, p. 46). This means that firms’ management teams should ensure that the employees are motivated, educated and provided with sufficient information to attain the organizational goals. Papasolomou-Doukakis (2002, p. 87) further asserts that communication is one of the most important elements of internal marketing. This arises from the fact that internal marketing is regarded as a method of ensuring an effective flow of information regarding various organizational issues. Through effective implementation of the concept of internal marketing, organizations can attain success in their external market.
Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
Customer satisfaction is defined as a measure of an organization’s performance concerning the customers’ requirements (Hill & Alexander 1). Organizations are increasingly appreciating the importance of customer satisfaction (Hill & Alexander, 2006, p. 1). The word ‘satisfaction’ is a general term that is used to summarize the various attitudes and feelings that a customer has towards a particular product or organization (Hill, Roche & Allen, p. 2). The customer attitudes and feelings developed are very important because they influence the customers’ future behaviours. The customer’s behaviours’ are collectively referred to as loyalty which is comprised of three main elements which include retention, related sales and referrals.
There is a strong positive correlation between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Satisfied customers are less likely to defect to competing produce compared to dissatisfied customers. However, attaining customer satisfaction does not mean that customers cannot switch to competing products. Therefore, a firm’s management teams should conduct customer satisfaction measurements to determine the extent to which their customers are satisfied with their service delivery. This arises from the fact that the higher the level of customer satisfaction the higher the customer loyalty. Therefore, organizations must put the effort into ensuring that they improve customer satisfaction to attain customer loyalty as illustrated by the graph below.
From the above illustration, it is evident that customer satisfaction is the core driver towards the attainment of customer loyalty which is the main goal for organizations. Figure one illustrates the fact that organizations are required to ensure that customers are not merely satisfied but highly satisfied to achieve high customer loyalty and hence attain optimal performance (Hill, Roche and Allen, p. 5). Dissatisfied customers are likely to defect to the competing products. On the other hand, highly satisfied customers are represented by the zone of affection whereby they become very faithful to the organization and its products.
Relationship between internal marketing and customer satisfaction/loyalty
Customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction occurs as a result of interaction between customers and an organization’s frontline employees (Mavridoglou, p. 1). Therefore, customer satisfaction can only be attained if the employees are fully conversant with their requirements. Internal marketing plays an important role in a firm’s effort to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction.
In their service delivery, employees can portray inconsistencies that can affect customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is evidenced by the fact that there are different levels of customer satisfaction. This underscores the importance of focusing the various organizational efforts to make the employees deliver services to the customers more consistently. This can only be attained through the incorporation of the concept of internal marketing. Through internal marketing, an organization can influence its employees by making them become market and customer-oriented. Market orientation is concerned with ensuring that all the employees are focused on the attainment of a high level of customer satisfaction. The probability of attaining this can be increased by developing a strong customer orientation amongst the employees. To attain this, firms’ management teams must ensure that they integrate effective internal marketing strategies. Some of the concepts that they should put into consideration relates to training and motivating the employees so that they can recognize and perform the necessary action in order to satisfy the customers’ needs (Kitchen & Proctor, p. 71).
Additionally, organizations should consider the frontline employees as a part of their product and service offering (Papasolomou-Doukakis, p. 89). The concept of internal marketing assets that the employees’ needs must be met to enable them to attain job satisfaction. Through the attainment of job satisfaction, employees become positive in their service delivery to the external customer. Effective service delivery to the customers enhances their level of satisfaction. The ultimate effect is that their level of customer loyalty is enhanced (Kourdi, p. 34). However, to attain this, the firm’s management teams are required to develop an internal environment that supports employees so that they become customer-centred. There is a strong relationship between internal marketing and customer satisfaction/loyalty.
Research model and design
One of the ways through which one can develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between internal marketing and customer satisfaction/loyalty is by conducting a research study. To attain this, it is important to incorporate an effective research design. The research design acts as a framework that guides the entire study thus resulting in the attainment of appropriate findings.
In undertaking the study, a qualitative research model will be adopted. This arises from the fact that it enables one to conduct an in-depth analysis of the issue under consideration. Qualitative research design is interpretative which means that the research can illustrate the relationship between the variables under consideration. Additionally, this research model allows the researcher to integrate different methods such as the use of interviews, observations, case study and personal experience in collecting the data to be used in the study (Maxwell, p. 3). Additionally, because the study is aimed at evaluating the relationship between two variables, a descriptive research design will be integrated. The descriptive design will enable one to analyze the various factors associated with the two factors under consideration.
The above analysis has given a comprehensive definition of internal marketing and customer satisfaction and how they are related. From the analysis, it is evident that internal marketing is instrumental in firms’ efforts to attain customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is because internal marketing contributes towards a high level of satisfaction amongst the employees. This is attained by ensuring that the employee’s needs are met thus enhancing their level of job satisfaction. Satisfied employees are more effective in serving customers. Organizations’ management teams should ensure that the employees become market-oriented which means that they can understand the customers’ needs. Through the integration of internal marketing, the degree of customer focus within an organization is enhanced which contributes towards a high level of customers satisfaction. In summary, there is a strong positive correlation between internal marketing, customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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