Theory makes practical sense
Putting theory into practice has enabled a Monash Business School student to design a better service model, which will save time and money for his employer.
As part of the coursework for the Services Marketing unit, students are required to assess the service component of their chosen firm. They are then required to develop recommendations to overcome any problems or weaknesses.
Unit coordinator Professor Tracey Danaher, from the Department of Marketing, said the assessment was designed to give the students a better grasp of the practical applications of the theory they study.
"The assignment encourages them to use the theory they have learnt to understand and critically evaluate a business. They then come up with recommendations for improvement," she said.
Quality customer service needed
Evaluating the business-to-business company where he works, Executive MBA student Mark Ferguson said the customer service processes in place were seen as the industry standard.
"All companies in our industry service their customers in much the same way," Mark said.
"A business will only grow if it differentiates itself in the market. Once I recognised where improvements could be made, I wanted to develop solutions that would give the company a point of difference.
"The core service business relies on providing seamless services to its customers – from initial contact right through to final invoicing.
"Unfortunately, the current, largely manual, processes require significant input from personnel and a lot of paper that results in frequent process errors. This in turn can cause disputes with customers, particularly in regards to billing, which is not ideal when you want to deliver excellent customer service."
Mark's recommendations were to replace these supplementary services, with technology to streamline each process and to reduce paperwork.
"By implementing my recommendations, I envisaged that there would be significant benefits for the customers, mainly in the flow of information and the accuracy of billing, follow-up work and quotations."
Theory put into practice
The company's management was so impressed with Mark's business plan that they are currently implementing his recommendations. The new system will be operating from early 2016.
"It felt good knowing that the President saw the merit in the recommendations and was prepared to financially back the business plan," Mark said.
"Once implemented, the new system will give the company a real advantage over their competitors by offering a better service."
Department of Marketing
Mark said undertaking the Services Marketing unit had helped him immensely.
"I think the biggest benefit was encouraging me to look at how we undertake our services from a customer's perspective," he said.
"I think the innovation plan also encouraged me to look at what we really wanted out of the system. What our strengths and weaknesses were, and how we could use them to our advantage.
"We have already implemented a new pricing strategy that will put us in a stronger position. At the same time, this will enable us to capture business from competitors."
Teachings impact on industry
Professor Danaher said it was essential that lectures and assignments related to what was happening in the world of business.
"It is important that what we teach our students is relevant, and this is a perfect example of that relevance," she said.
"The outcome from Mark's project highlights the Business School's vision of engagement and impact to industry."