naturally beautiful

NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL, INC.

BACKGROUND

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Naturally Beautiful, Inc. is a maker and marketer of organic cosmetics. Its cosmetics are formulated from all-natural organic ingredients. Although the company currently serves primarily the higher-end market, distributing through upscale department stores and boutiques, it would like to expand its distribution channels. It is currently developing an organic line to sell through outlets such as Walgreens, CVC, and Wal-Mart. Long-term plans include expanding internationally, first to Canada and Mexico, and eventually to Western Europe and beyond. Sales are strong and continue to rise. The company gives much of the credit for its success to its salesforce, which has done a great job expanding into new outlets while establishing and maintaining strong customer relationships.

Jill Aunaturale, a nontraditional student, was hired as a sales representative by Naturally Beautiful out of college approximately ten months ago. Since being hired she has had a good deal of success, landing several new accounts. In fact, if she can land a few more accounts by the end of the rapidly approaching fiscal year, she will exceed her quota and achieve a hefty bonus. Jill is counting on this bonus because she has planned a big family trip and does not want to let her family down.

CURRENT SITUATION

Lately, Jill has heard various concerns from several of her customers. For instance, the other day she received a voice mail from Rick at Beauty Boutique, a recently acquired customer whose order was incorrect. A few items were missing from the order. Jill figured that shipping must have inadvertently omitted the items and that Rick could give them a call to get it fixed. She figured that it was not her fault, Rick still had product to sell and she certainly did not have time to mess with this. Similarly, she received a text from Kim at Devine’s department store indicating that an expected delivery was late. Again, Jill figured she could not do anything about the delivery. She texted Kim to tell her to contact the shipping department at Naturally Beautiful about the matter. Jill also received a second e-mail from Sarah at Cosmetics Unlimited:

Dear Jill, 

A few weeks ago you promised you would return to train our beauty consultants on your newest product line. Our consultants need to fully understand the benefits of this new product and how it is to be applied so that they can best serve our customers. As you know, we take great pride in providing the highest quality products and services to our customer base. We discussed this when you offered me your line. Although we like your line, if we are unable to offer our customers top-shelf service with your brand then we may have to look elsewhere. 

Sincerely, 

Sarah 

Jill recalls telling Sarah that she would conduct training for her sales consultants but has been so busy working to get new accounts that she put it on the back burner. Jill was not sure that she could put Sarah off much longer, but felt it would be in her best interest to write her back and stall her for at least a couple more weeks. By then, she thought, she might have exceeded her quota.

To Jill, these were but minor customer issues, not even problems. In her opinion, these were nothing more than “needy” customers. As far as she was concerned, she was delivering a great product at a great price. Besides, she had more sales to make and nobody was going to help her if she came up short on providing that great family vacation she promised.

 

QUESTIONS

  1. For each of the concerns expressed by Jill’s customers in the case, explain an alternative means for handling the concern.
  2. What are the potential long-run implications of how Jill is handling her current customers?
  3. What types of activities can Jill do after acquiring an account to enhance customer value and ensure long- term customer relationships?

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