III. Gold Star Chili: Customer and Market Knowledge
Although no discussion questions are raised at the end of the case (a disturbing fact for some students who are overly focused on getting the “right answer”) some issues for discussion would seem obvious.
Customer and Market Focus
• Gold Star has segmented its customers into three groups -- franchisees, restaurant customers, and retail customers. They have carefully defined the characteristics of each.
• To learn from customers, the company relies on face-to-face contacts, focus groups, customer comment cards, customer surveys, and structured meetings. Each of these is tailored to meeting the need of franchisees at various stages of growth of the franchise. Some of these include:
- Geo-demographic analysis of locations prior to building
- Use of Franchise Service ...view middle of the document...
For retail customers, verbal comments or customer comment cards are used.
• Directors of Operations act as consultants to deal with in-store problems. Verbal and written complaints are entered into databases for monthly reporting, but are acted upon immediately.
• Complaints from retail customers are generally handled at the store level through service recovery procedures, such as offering partial or total credit or a coupon for free food.
• Every comment card results in a letter and coupons, complaint cards result in a phone call to the customer, and if needed, a three-way phone call between customer service representative (CSR), customer, and franchisee will be initiated. Follow-ups and results are recorded and tracked, with feedback on the resolution of each incident being provided to the franchisee
• Information about satisfaction of customers relative to competitors is obtained, tracked, and fed back to franchisees. For consumers, satisfaction relative to competitors is obtained from focus groups.
Opportunities for Improvement
• Although the company appears to have a number of systems in place to determine franchisee and restaurant customer satisfaction, it is not clear what procedures are used for retail customer satisfaction and complaint management.