• Develop a paper of no more than 10 double-spaced text pages, with a maximum of 10 additional pages of exhibits. Exhibits that are not annotated, or do not clearly illustrate a key point in the paper, may hurt your grade.
• Specify at least one, and no more than three, critical service and/or operational capabilities the company must excel in to succeed – (a) according to company published materials and/or your secondary research, and (b) in your analysis. How does the company attempt to excel at these capabilities? How can it improve?
• Be analytical, not just descriptive. Be as objective as possible: we are all interested in how the company manages the customer experience – not if you liked or did not like your experience, not if the home page looks clean and pleasing, etc. If the customer experience is a good one, describe the specific goals the company achieves and how it does so. How could it be improved? If the customer experience is less than optimal, how can it be improved?
• Interact with the company as a customer or client. Present a value map or blueprint of your interaction and customer experience.
• Gather as many customer communications as you can first-hand, either by signing up for email newsletters or promotions, requesting catalogs, calling customer service to gather product information, requesting customer materials from the company, etc., to evaluate the company’s communications from the customer service perspective covered in class. How well does the company anticipate customer needs and questions, and structure its customer experience and communications to minimize customer service contacts? On the web, in catalog and other print communications, in store? Via email, social media and other ancillary materials? Via Customer Service interactions?
• Evaluate the usability of the company’s website. Clearly define the specific customer “personas” the site does, and does not, serve effectively. Evaluate the transaction flow and the proactive customer service information. Identify what the site does well, and why, and what it does poorly, and explain the reasons for your conclusion.
• Place an order (or more), and if possible return the order, complain about the order, etc., to study how the company interacts with its customers at each point. Find as many opportunities as possible to interact with the company through multiple channels. Keep notes on phone calls, store visits, and other experiences, to present in your project.
• Gather some secondary research on the company, through SEC documents, online news archives, company websites, NYU library, etc. – this is not meant to be a research paper, but this phase of the project provides useful data on the company’s professed strategy and actual results for customer communications, operations, etc.
• All exhibits must be annotated, describing specifically what works and what does not work.
• Note that the final project should not focus on customer acquisition, direct-response campaigns, marketing strategies, etc. It should focus on business processes and customer interactions/communications the company addresses to prospects and customers who have already “raised their hands” by requesting a catalog, a sample, or information, logging on to a website, or making a purchase. Extraneous material not related to the topics of the class will count negatively in the grading of this project.
• Unless they will clearly add no value to your thesis, all papers should cover the following:
o Order management cycle: actual, opportunities for improvement
o Value map: actual, opportunities for improvement
o Customer communications: actual, opportunities for improvement
o Customer Service experience: actual, opportunities for improvement
o How do the above impact the company’s marketing strategy and provide strategic advantages or disadvantages?