Currys: Marketing Performance

Executive Summary

Recent years, the main UK retailer, Currys, experiences profit decline caused by economic changes and poor customer service. The analysis shows that the customs, institutions, and values of employees influence achievement in economic areas. In explaining differences in economic development and in analyzing an abundant target populations, the company neglects psychological and sociological factors that are associated with and capable of inspiring economic forces, and thereby underestimate the significance of marketing as a force in economic development. At Currys, these factors play a crucial role in the economic development of the organization. The proposed changes include training programs for employees and new communication patterns which help them to meet customers’ needs and maintain positive relations. For Currys, the utilization of capital is not determined only by accessibility and technological advancement. To a large extent the company management is responsible for efficient systems of production and for the implementation of newscaster relations. It is impossible to understand modern culture without a comprehension of new social values and needs of customers. Poor service and inadequate communication with potential customers has an extensive influence on financial profits and position of the company. In the situation of abundance, the company can decline, and only new strategies and policies will help it to extend far beyond existing demand, and, because of specialization, the nature of organizations, and the widespread geographic distribution of population, a gap exists between producers and consumers. Under these conditions, effective customer relations and excellent service become an even more significant factor of success.

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Introduction

Companies today are operating in a different environment, which is different from the one they operated in 20 years ago and will also be in the increase in the future as a result of competition in the service industry and the customer becoming more demanding requiring value for their money. One of the changes is a fiercer and more intense competitive rivalry. Companies have understood that they cannot use price only to maintain and increase their market share in a competitive market and many have focused on customer service in order to develop a competitive advantage (Armstrong, 2000). Another change is that customers are more demanding. Today customers expect more than a high quality product and competitive price they expect a high quality service. The economic situation of Currys shows that many retail companies fail to meet increased economic pressure and new social changes, which lead to profits decline.

Problem Identification

The example of Currys allows to say that service today has become a vital element for the hearts, minds, money and support of the customer; it also drives customer loyalty and repeat business. This is now more important to an organization’s survival. Quality management is the processes by which a business can improve its customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, competitiveness and profitability (McDonald and Christopher 2003). As companies strive to compete with each other to provide a quality customer service, an area in which it has become a focus for business is in the food retail industry Currys’s core purpose is to create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty. One of the reasons for Currys’s success is its continuing pursuit of its mission. Another reason has been the implementation of its customer loyalty card. However, in order to keep its competitive position in a competitive market, Currys must concentrate its attention on improving customer service and investing in its staff though an ongoing training programme. “The new chief executive of Britain’s biggest electricals retailer yesterday gave a withering assessment of the chain’s problems: it stocks the wrong range of products in badly laid-out stores, and has inadequately trained staff who too often give poor advice” (Finch 2008).

Current problems of Currys are caused by the following factors: poor customer service and inadequate training of staff, poor communication and customer relationships management (Paley, 2006). Traditionally, Currys concentrate on products and prices paying less attention to cultural shifts and demographic changes. Currys’s stated core values are: no-one tries harder for customers, to understand customers better than anyone, being energetic, being innovative and being the first for customers, using its strengths to deliver unbeatable value for customers, and to look after its people so they can look after its customers (Bateman and Snell 2004). All these will be analysed critically in this research to examine to what extent they have helped in achieving its competitive advantage (Currys Home Page 2008). Customer loyalty and advocacy are also very relevant in a competitive economy so these issues are very helpful in understanding the purpose of any organisation and how any organisation can fulfil that purpose (Price, 2004). In the case of Currys, the study is quite relevant since it deals with a successful organisation that has achieved a remarkable competitive advantage after the launch of its customer loyalty card. At the same time it is very useful to study how the implementation of the management tool known as Currys has helped to keep its focus on the customer in order to deliver quality service on a consistent basis (Armstrong and Baron 1995).

Marketing Theory Application

The theory selected for analysis is customer service theory and its impact on profits maximization. In order to deliver quality services at Currys, the comapny should be well aware of cultural problems and conflicts affected its target population. Also, cross-cultural differences due to geographic location may have little to do with race. For instance, poverty-stricken people suffer from low income more so than racial discrimination (Smith and Vogt 1995). The first step to develop a plan for culturally competent services is to understand needs and demands of the target population. It is crucial to explore the complexities of multiple identities such as when an individual belongs to more than one minority group. Little attention tends to be given to differences within multiple identity groups. It is important to be aware of the diversity within ethnic groups as well as between them (Cornford, 2000).

Differences in the requirements for work extend beyond the purely technical nature of the activities. The scope for working autonomously, and the management of that work—its discretion— can vary widely. Also, whether work requires specialization within a set of particular tasks or has more multi-functional roles will differ across and within workplaces. Nevertheless, the technical components of vocational practice determine part of the requirements for work performance. Therefore, although conceptions of occupations and industry are commonly used for categorizing work skills, they alone are inadequate for providing a comprehensive account of the requirements for work performance (Smith and Taylor 2004). This is because the requirements of practice in Currys are probably unique, given the range of factors that determine that practice. The requirements for expertise in the workplace cannot be reduced to understanding the bundle of technical skills required for performance. How vocational practice is conducted, the changes in that practice and the difficulties of training the attributes required for responding to new tasks all have to be considered (Weaver, 1994). At one level, there is the need in call centers for particular sets of skills are determined in the broader community (i. e. the need for particular goods and services) and will change as these needs evolve (Dawson, 2007). The strengths and weaknesses of training at work are identified, using evidence drawn largely from a series of research projects that specifically aimed to understand training in the workplace and how it might be improved. These investigations progressively developed and refined an understanding of how workers learn through their work activities and of the strategies that could be used to improve training that occurs as part of everyday work activities (Ugboro, 2006). Significantly, none of the ‘strategy’ categories was reported as being more effective than the ‘training curriculum’ categories. This finding again suggests that everyday activity in the workplace provided the contributions that the subjects required for their work. However, perhaps the comparative strengths of training in the workplace are not so surprising given the nature of, and requirements for, participation in everyday work activities. This participation provides ongoing and persistent opportunities for individuals to learn the knowledge required for work through their engagement in goal-directed workplace activities (Cornford, 2000).

Proposed Solutions

Training Programs

The main solution to current problems is to introduce training programs and improve customer relations. The CEO claims that: “improving the service levels in Currys and PC World was not an easy task: “It will take some time. It will require years of training. It’s an investment, but we think we can make a major difference over time” (Finch 2008). It is possible to disagree with this statement because effective training can take from 2-5 months. The step is to educate employees and help them to communicate effectively using the knowledge and skills they obtain during training programs. There are many causes of cross-cultural conflict, including, but not limited to, language and communication barriers, racism, sexism, and ageism. Language is the basic form of communication and it is also the primary cause of cross-cultural conflict (William and Whyte, 1994; Johnson and Scholes 1998).

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The main effects of training on the performance in Currys are improved service level delivered to customers and job satisfaction of all centers employees. At call centers in retail environment, employees who are effective at work, who can handle difficult tasks such as those illustrated above, possess particular attributes. Technically, it is referred to as expertise. These are the employees from whom others seek advice about how to approach a difficult task. Their attributes set them apart from less experienced workers and are also the qualities that other workers aspire to and employers wish more of their employees possessed. These attributes represent the kind of outcomes that should be developed through workplace training. In order to assist the development of expertise, retail organizations like Currys need to understand the attributes that constitute expert performance at work (Armstrong, 2000). In Currys, this enables the identification of the goals for workplace training and selecting particular strategies to most effectively generate expertise in workers. Understanding these attributes can also help establish bases for guiding the development of and judgments about the effectiveness of workplace training arrangements (Fill, 2001).

In Currys, the main effects of effective training comprise the ability to respond effectively to both the everyday and new work tasks encountered in the workplace. Being effective with everyday workplace tasks is essential, but it is not sufficient for expert performance at work. It is also important and necessary to respond to new and unanticipated tasks. For individual employees, the ability to transfer their vocational knowledge within the retail organization like Currys as new tasks arise and to other work situations is an important attribute one that opens up options and opportunities for their vocational advancement. Employees’ ability to accomplish new tasks as well as the everyday ones enhances the prospect of the enterprise being able to respond successfully to new work challenges and changing environments. Such responses require workers to have expert attributes (Bateman & Snell 2004). Therefore it is important to understand these attributes and how they can best be developed in the retail sector. Because training is a product of everyday thinking and acting, it is inevitable that not all training will be desirable or appropriate. Currys supposes that training that might be considered undesirable and inappropriate is not quarantined in some way in Currys. Some of these outcomes are likely to be associated with unsafe working practices, or with the failure to use the requisite amount of checking and monitoring required for work tasks. In addition, there may be work practices that encourage exclusiveness and intolerance in the workplace. Inappropriate knowledge, including attitudes and values (e. g. dangerous work practice or exclusive views about gender/race), might well be learnt if it is practiced and/or rewarded in the workplace. Inappropriate training outcomes can arise from incomplete preparation (Fill, 2001).

Market Analysis

The next stage of change is to investigate the history of the target population. Understanding the history of an ethnic group, the current stage of its national and social identities, and its relationships with other groups is critical to recognizing and resolving cross-cultural conflict. Specifically, an ethnic group’s reasons for coming to the United States can provide valid data pertaining to intercultural conflict. Some ethnic groups are still searching for freedom from religious persecution that drove them from their homeland, or escape from ethnic group prescription, or job opportunities not available in their native country. For others, however, migration was a way to survive political oppression. And others–Africans–are trying to extricate from their lives a history of being kidnapped and sold as chattel property. The relocation of more than four hundred American Indian sovereign nations adds yet another issue to intergroup conflict. Indeed, employees bring their cultural histories to the workplace.

The structuring of this experience is a direct means of assisting the store employees to understand requirements for work performance which would otherwise remain unknown to them. Consequently, a key component of the workplace curriculum is to identify and provide opportunities by which workers can best come to understand the requirements for their work (Mayo 1998). Many performance goals are likely to be readily accessible and can be understood in workplaces. When this is not possible, explicit interventions may need to be adopted to make these goals accessible and understandable. However, a limitation is that such measures may only be able to address routine work practices. The requirements for understanding non-routine practices may be more difficult. While totally novel tasks will remain unknown until encountered, it might be useful to make accessible the scope of the kinds of activities that may be encountered (Lovelock and Wirtz 2004).

Conclusion

With new tasks being considered as opportunities to learn more about work practice, could be adapted to develop further the capacity to enrich workers’ knowledge in ways that would help them respond to new tasks. Principles arising from the need to provide access to goals are as follows: There are three identifiable parts to the task of securing appropriate access to workplace activities. The first is understanding learners’ readiness for moving through the pathway of workplace activities. This requires an awareness of what the learners know and their ability to progress with tasks of increasing complexity and accountability. The ability to undertake a particular task with ease and consistently produce an acceptable outcome indicates a readiness to progress to a more complex activity (Mayo 1998). This ability demonstrates a readiness to progress to other tasks. Conversely, the apprentice who struggles with the task and has to use conscious thought to concentrate while undertaking both tasks probably needs more practice and is not ready to move on to the next task. In Currys decisions about employees readiness will inevitably arise. The nature of the task, the employees’ experiences and the consequences for both the task and the learner need to be considered. Associated with this role is management of the sequence of training experiences as the learners engage in increasingly complex activities. The experienced coworker may be best placed to guide the timing and direction of the employees’ experiences and progress.

Bibliography

Armstrong, M. 2000, Human Resource Management. 8th edn. Kogan Page.

Armstrong M., Baron A. (eds.). 1995, The job evaluation handbook. Eds. Institute of Personnel and Development.

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Bateman T.S. and Snell S. A. 2004, Management: the New Competitive landscape. 6th edn., McGaw Hill Irwin. Call Center Performance. 2008.

Cornford, I.R. 2000, Competency-Based Training: Evidence of a Failed Policy in Training Reform. Australian Journal of Education, 44 (2), p. 135.

Currys Home Page 2008.

Dawson, K. 2007, Best Practices in Call Center Training. Web.

Johnson, G., Scholes, K. 1998, Exploring Corporate Strategy. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall.

Fill, C. 2001, Marketing Communication: Contexts, Contents, and Strategies. 2. edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Finch, J. What’s wrong with Currys? Bad shops and poorly trained staff, says the boss. Guardian Online.

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Lovelock, C & Wirtz, J. 2004. Services Marketing, People, Technology and Strategy. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Mayo A. 1998, Creating a Training and Development Strategy. London: Institute of Personnel and Development.

McDonald M., Christopher M. 2003. Marketing: A complete Guide. Palgrave Macmillan.

Paley, N. 2006. The Manager’s Guide to Competitive Marketing Strategies. Thorogood.

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Empowerment and Intent to Quit Among Survivors of Restructuring and Downsizing. Web.

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