Special Session Summary Customers in the Organizational Context: How Organizations' Decisions Incorporate Customer Information

Prakash Nedungadi, Indiana University
Ajay K. Kohli, The University of Texas at Austin
[ to cite ]:
Prakash Nedungadi and Ajay K. Kohli (1996) ,"Special Session Summary Customers in the Organizational Context: How Organizations' Decisions Incorporate Customer Information", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr., Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 352.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, 1996      Page 352

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

CUSTOMERS IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT: HOW ORGANIZATIONS' DECISIONS INCORPORATE CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Prakash Nedungadi, Indiana University

Ajay K. Kohli, The University of Texas at Austin

This session explored the role of customer information in organizational decision making. The first paper Engineering Customer Experiences by Lewis P. Carbone described the importance of understanding customers' sensory responses to a variety of environmental triggers. These environmental triggers or clues include "mechanics" or things such as landscapes, thoughtfully placed traffic signs, recorded music and "humanics" or behavior of people (which can be creatively designed in). Next it described a systematic approach for understanding the influence of environmental cues on customers' perceptions and experience quality. Using this information, a service provider may design in specific mechanics and humanics to enhance customer perceptions of the service quality.

The second paper When the Manager Becomes the Measure: The Use of Personal Information in the Development of Managers' Understanding of Consumers by Christine Moorman examined the role of factual versus personal information in managerial decision making. Factual information refers to information about customers (e.g., their preferences in a food category), whereas personal information refers to information about a manager in his or her role as a customer (e.g., the manager's preferences in a food category). The paper described a data collection effort focused on product development teams and the rich qualitative data collected on managers' actions over a period of several weeks. Preliminary results obtained from a small sample of the data for illustrative purposes were described. Perhaps the most striking finding was that managers tended to use personal information far more than factual information to guide their decision making.

The two papers sparked a very lively discussion covering a number of themes. Some of the themes explored were as follows: What is the impact of environmental clues in experiments designed to test theories? Do we need to pay explicit attention to "mechanics" and "humanics" in designing such experiments? Is the use of personal information undesirable or desirable? On the one hand it may undesirable because what should count is factual information; on the other hand it may be useful for managers to be able to relate to information in a meaningful way to have confidence in the information. What can be done to increase the use of customer information by managers? For example, one suggestion was to make customer information more vivid by having managers talk with customers face to face, or observe customer focus groups rather than simply read research reports summarizing customer opinions or behavior.

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