Pamela Spencer Case
Pamela Spencer, the manager of HouseMart in Port Madison, New York was confronted by one of the store’s regular customers, Mrs. Kerns concerning the state of her installed cedar fencing after a severe wind and rain storm had hit the area. Mrs. Kerns had contacted HouseMart’s installation manager earlier that morning complaining of her fence leaning at a 45-degree angle and after the installation manager’s inspection, he found that since the fence had been properly installed there was essentially nothing he could do and suggested to Mrs.
Kerns that she should contact her insurance company. Mrs. Kerns was unsatisfied with the installation manager’s response and entered the store later that day to confront Pamela just as the store was preparing to close. Pamela explained to Mrs. Kerns that she should give her the pictures of the damaged fencing so she could look at them personally but there isn’t much she could do at the time because the store is closing, and then suggested that Mrs. Kerns return to the store the following day to discuss the matter further. Mrs.
Kerns agreed to return the next day to discuss the issue at length, leaving Pamela in a predicament about what to tell Mrs. Kerns concerning her fencing. Stakeholders There are several different stakeholders represented in this case. The first stakeholder that comes to mind is Mrs. Kerns. Mrs. Kerns is a frequent customer of HouseMart; however, she often returns products or only buys products that happen to be on sale. Mrs. Kerns is primarily concerned with the value and quality of products as well as customer service in the store.
The second stakeholder is Pamela Spencer. Pamela Spencer is the manager of HouseMart. She is primarily focused on managing the store to the best of her abilities while paying special attention to internal operations, profitability, and customer service. The third stakeholder in this case is Dan Zegan. Dan Zegan is HouseMart’s installation manager. He handled Mrs. Kern’s complaint concerning the state of her fence and went to inspect it personally. Dan Zegan is primarily concerned with overlooking the installation aspect of HouseMart’s services, and he deduced that Mrs.
Kerns’ fence had been properly installed. The fourth stakeholder represented in this case would be the HouseMart employees. The HouseMart employees are directly involved by coming into contact with Mrs. Kerns on several different occasions with her visits to the store. The employees are primarily concerned with helping all of their customers with their needs and assisting them, but specifically in this case they are tasked with helping Mrs. Kerns. Purpose of Warranty HouseMart gives their customers two different options when it comes to buying fencing.
They can buy the fencing outright and install it themselves, or they can buy the fencing and use the contractors HouseMart provides. When the customers go through HouseMart for installation they are set up with independent contractors. HouseMart only suggests and works with the most trustworthy contractors. HouseMart does provide a warranty for fencing. The warranty is a 30-day warranty that guarantees proper installation. The warranty included that if any damage happened to a customer’s fencing due to faulty installation, HouseMart would cover all costs as well as replacement and reinstallation (Brown 51).
The purpose of the warranty essentially is to guarantee the installation of the fencing. However, HouseMart can avoid any other reason for replacing the fencing if it does not have to do with faulty installation. By providing their customers with this option HouseMart can basically avoid replacing fencing. Marketing Concept Pamela Spencer manages HouseMart according to the marketing concept, meaning she manages a firm’s goals that can be best achieved through identification and satisfaction of the customers’ stated and unstated needs and wants (Marketing). She takes several customer-oriented actions at HouseMart.
When Pamela began working for HouseMart as an assistant manager she took some liberties upon herself to improve customer service. She instituted training programs for part-time staff to help improve employee knowledge and to aid the communication process between employees and customers. The workshops helped the staff learn more about the products and become more knowledgeable in key areas for it do-it-yourselfers. During her time as assistant manager she also took it upon herself to personally handle customer complaints to make sure that the proper procedures were followed.
Her focus on customer service and improving customer-employee relationships helped her improve upon her marketing concept. During Pamela’s time as assistant manager and even in her current position as manager she has made many improvements to the store as a whole; however, not all of these improvements are based on the marketing concept. Her focus on operations and profitability may have detracted some from the marketing concept. Essential Facts In order to help formulate a good decision for Pamela based on her incident with Mrs. Kerns there are certain essential facts of the situation that must be taken into consideration.
One very important fact of this case is that Beverly Kerns is a frequent HouseMart customer who usually comes in once a week (Brown 51). Another important fact concerning Mrs. Kerns is that she buys all types of merchandise from HouseMart but usually only purchases items that are on sale, and almost always returns at least half of the items she bought (Brown 51). The next important fact in this case is that before Mrs. Kerns came to confront Pamela Spencer at HouseMart she had been in contact with the installation manager Dan Zegan about the damage to her fencing. Mr. Zegan had even gone to Mrs.
Kerns’ house to personally inspect the damage to the fence and told Mrs. Kerns that the damage was not due to faulty installation and suggested she contact her insurance company (Brown 45). Another important fact in this case is that Mrs. Kerns’ fence was damaged due to a severe September wind and rain storm, but her fencing was installed in April (Brown 45). The next important fact to consider in this situation is the manner in which Mrs. Kerns confronted Pamela Spencer. Mrs. Kerns showed up to the store minutes before the store was closing only to wave pictures of the fence in Pamela’s face while accusing her of ignoring the complaint.
Mrs. Kerns even cussed at Pamela while asking her what she intended to do about the mess (Brown 45). One last and important fact to consider in this situation is that Pamela is very familiar with Mrs. Kerns as a customer in her store and has become annoyed with Mrs. Kerns’ attitude and actions, and is letting her personal feelings come into play in her decision about Mrs. Kerns’ fencing (Brown 52). SWOT Analysis According to Ryan Goodrich from Business News Daily, “The SWOT analysis enables companies to identify the positive and negative influencing factors inside and outside of a company or organization.
The key role of SWOT is to help develop a full awareness of all factors that may affect strategic planning and decision making, a goal that can be applied to most any aspect of industry,” (Goodrich). Figure 1 identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for HouseMart. Pamela Spencer’s focus on making HouseMart more profitable as well as her attention to overall operations is a huge strength for the company. Her focus on customer service is also very important because it helps grow and maintain a customer base. Pamela’s no-nonsense approach to her staff makes her an effective manager.
Weaknesses of HouseMart include the lack of cooperation with the former manager of HouseMart and the resentment of Pamela by employees. A business is only as good as the people working for them. The huge lack of profitability by HouseMart in the first three quarters of the year makes it difficult for Pamela to make large increases in that area. Opportunities for HouseMart include the fact that with market trends indicate that younger couples now look to buy older homes with the plans to renovate them themselves (Brown 50). This is very opportunistic for HouseMart with all of their do-it-yourself products and knowledge.
The housing market regaining its former strength is also opportunistic for HouseMart, because houses both new and old will always need something that is ready to be renovated or fixed. Threats to HouseMart include the competition in the local area from the neighborhood hardware stores to the big box hardware stores. Local business is a lot of times more preferable to people from the area. Another threat is always one that House Mart will come into contact with, and that is the ever changing economic conditions and the new market trends that may steer away from what HouseMart has to offer.
Figure 1 Mrs. Kerns’ dissatisfaction Based on the confrontation Mrs. Kerns started with Pamela Spencer, Mrs. Kerns is extremely dissatisfied. The source of Mrs. Kerns’ dissatisfaction stems from the idea that she thinks her fence was not properly installed and that the damage that was done by the storm was solely the fault of the poor installation. The steps that would lead to increasing Mrs. Kerns’ satisfaction as well as other customer’s satisfaction would be to guarantee the installation, and explain to them the cause of damage to their fencing if it was not due to installation issues.
After explaining and talking calmly with Mrs. Kerns or other customers about the issue they should both find an alternative to remedy the situation to help satisfy the customer’s needs. By taking those steps you will likely increase the probability that the customer will return. HouseMart’s Customer Satisfaction HouseMart should value customer satisfaction among one of its most important business values. They should value it to the extent that should never lose a customer over dissatisfaction with customer service or problems stemming from faulty products.
It is very important in a small community to take every customer’s satisfaction level seriously, because all it takes is one bad incident and then the whole community knows. With an outspoken customer and confrontational customer like Mrs. Kerns it is likely she would spread word of her dissatisfying experience at HouseMart. Alternative Decisions There are several alternatives Pamela Spencer could consider in relation to Mrs. Kerns fencing situation. Mrs. Kerns is a frequent customer of HouseMart; however, she is not a frequently satisfied customer considering she usually returns half of the items she buys.
Mrs. Kerns also has the habit of only buying items on sale at HouseMart. Taking into account those two facts, Mrs. Kerns is not an extremely reliable customer when it comes to profitability of the store overall. Pamela could employ the alternative decision of backing up her other manager Dan by agreeing with what he had already told Mrs. Kerns that she should contact her insurance agency. Another alternative decision Pamela could make would be to help Mrs. Kerns replace her old fencing by providing free installation on the new fencing she would buy to replace the old fencing.
By using that alternative Mrs. Kerns may become more satisfied because she feels like she is getting a good deal. One other possible alternative cold be to inform Mrs. Kerns that there is nothing Pamela could to do help fix her fencing but could offer her a slight discount on her next purchase. Mrs. Kerns may feel satisfied with that alternative considering her shopping habits. All of these alternatives cost HouseMart, either through discounts, free replacement, or the possibility of losing Mrs. Kerns as a customer altogether.
Pamela’s Decision Based on all of the facts from the case I believe that Pamela Spencer should support her installation manager, Dan Zegan’s decision that Mrs. Kerns should contact her insurance company concerning the storm damage to her fencing. I think that Pamela should explain in detail to Mrs. Kerns that she would go herself to assess the damage again to be sure that it was installed properly, and that if it was properly installed that there is nothing she can do because the 30-day warranty guaranteeing installation had expired. If Mrs.
Kerns is extremely upset I would suggest that Pamela offer her a slight discount on items she may purchase in the future. I would suggest this decision because in the overall scheme of things Mrs. Kerns is a repeat customer, but she is not a profitable repeat customer. Mrs. Kerns always returns items and only buys items that are on sale. She is also an annoyance to staff and management and provides no real opportunity for business expansion. Overall Mrs. Kerns is not an asset to HouseMart and she should not be given a free fence to replace a fence that was damaged by a storm when insurance can replace it just as easily as HouseMart could.