Soft Customer Standards


Not all customer priorities can be counted, timed, or observed through audits. As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.” Understanding and knowing the customer is not a customer priority that a standard that counts, times, or observes employees can adequately capture. In contrast to hard measures, soft measures are those that must be documented using perceptual measures. We call the second category of customer-defined standards soft standards and measures because they are opinion-based measures that cannot be observed and must be collected by talking to customers, employees, or others. Soft standards provide direction, guidance, and feedback to employees in ways to achieve customer satisfaction and can be quantified by measuring customer perceptions and beliefs. These are especially important for person-to-person interactions such as the selling process and the delivery process for professional services.

Marketing Audit


Marketing audit is a comprehensive, systematic, independent, and periodic examination of company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies and activities with a view of determining problem areas and opportunities and recommending a plan of action to improve the company’s marketing performance.

 The audit process directs the manager’s attention to both the strategic fit of the organization with its environment and the operational aspects of marketing program. Strategic aspects of the marketing audit address the synoptic question: “Are we doing the right things?” Operational aspects address an equality synoptic question: “Are we doing the things right?”

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Social Audit


A social audit is a step-by-step examination of all the activities that make up a firm’s social programs. The firm may evaluate its own programs in terms of goals, and it may identify new programs that it ought to pursue. Goals are then formulated for these new programs. The general aim of the social audit is to make management aware of the impact of corporate actions on society. In some countries, social audits are mandatory.

Many difficult questions need to be answered when conducting a social audit. When activities should be audited? How should each activity be evaluated? How should social performance be assessed? In general, these questions must be answered on a case-by-case basis.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Recognizing Markets


There are two major markets in marketing: the consumer market and the industrial market. The consumer market consists of all the individuals or households who want goods and services for personal consumption or use.

The industrial market consists of all the individuals and organizations that want goods and services to produce other goods and services or to sell, rent, or supply the goods to others. Oil drilling bits, cash registers, display cases, office desks, public accounting audits, and corporate legal advice are examples of industrial goods and services (products).

The important thing to remember is that buyer’s reason for buying and the end use of the product are what determine whether a product is considered a consumer product or an individual product.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Truth Map


Truth map is an audit process designed to get to the bottom of an organization’s challenges, opportunities and concerns. It requires the involvement of a cross-section of individuals from right across the whole organization, as well as other relevant parties such as customers and suppliers. At the most simple level, it involves asking a lot of people a lot of questions—but that is only the beginning.

It is not what truth map is that makes it special but the reasons why it is being undertaken and the spirit in which it is carried out that are important.

You may use truth map in two different situations, firstly as part of truth and reconciliation in business, and secondly as the first stage of a standard message mapping exercise.

A truth map covers the same ground in either situation but covers it in different ways and for slightly different reasons.

  • Use as part of a standard message mapping exercise (e.g., to assist a group of committed, enthusiastic individuals), the emphasis is on getting to the truth about future opportunities and challenges.
  • Use as part of truth and reconciliation in business, the emphasis is on getting to the truth of past conflicts, reconciling differences and healing resentments before an organization is even able to move on and address the future. In this type of situation, significant effort must be applied to bring the different parties to the table before dialogue and debate can even start to take place.

In both these situations the actual mechanics are much the same. Both situations require methodical, systematic but sympathetic questioning.

In the interests of objectivity, the presence of an independent adjudicator can be highly beneficial or even essential.

Truth map allows everyone to be heard, it airs people’s grievances and, when done well, even the most hardened objectors can move from being on the outside peeing in, to being on the inside peeing out.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Openness to Criticism


Criticism of any decision not only reflects on the actual appropriateness of the decision itself, but also on the decision-maker as well. When making a difficult decision, it is very  tempting to quickly move past it in order to avoid the questions and doubts the disapproval causes. However, the failure to adequately engage the objection becomes its own ethical dilemma with costs to both the individual and the organization when the ethical dimension is ignored. Openness to the criticism and the lessons it contains can be a key indication that the professional is actively integrating ethics and value reflection into his or her professional life.

When one’s decisions are criticized, one needs practical tools and processes to effectively learn from the reproach and to engage the ethical issues the disapproval presents. there are four fundamental steps in such examination described per herebelow:

  1. Accept the discomfort of the criticism and honestly confront the temptation to ignore it. An important incentive for this honest self-reflection is an understanding of the negative consequences of ignoring the ethics of one’s decisions and their consequences.
  2. Identify personal core values, listing them and examining them in light of the criticism being encountered.
  3. Cultivate openness to the ethical dimension of the business life and of business decisions. The role of the moral imagination and reflection will be examined.
  4. The need for practical tools to identify and audit the core values at work in the decision-making process will be reviewed.

These elements will enable the professional to effectively engage the ethical dimension of decisions and their aftermath. Openness to criticism, developing the moral imagination, having practical tools for ethical decision-making, and understanding the need to integrate one’s values into business goals, perspectives, and decisions are fundamental ingredients in integrating both vision and reality.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The New Corporate Governance Structures


The most significant change in the restructuring is the heightened role of corporate internal auditors. Auditors have traditionally been viewed as performing a necessary but perfunctory function, namely to probe corporate financial records for unintentional or illicit misrepresentations. Although a majority of US corporations have longstanding traditions of reporting that their auditors operated independently of CFO approval and that they had direct access to the board, in practice, the auditors’ work usually traveled through the organization’s hierarchical chain of command.

In the past, internal auditors reviewed financial reports generated by other corporate accountants. The auditors considered professional accounting and financial practices, as well as, relevant aspects of corporate law, and then presented their findings to the chief financial officer (CFO). Historically, the CFO reviewed the audits and determined the financial data and information that was to be presented to top management, directors, and investors of the company.

Because CEOs and audit committees sign-off on financial results, auditors now routinely deal directly with top corporate officials. Approximately 75 percent of senior corporate auditors now report directly to the Board of Directors’ audit committee. Additionally, to eliminate the potential for accounting problems, companies are establishing direct lines of communication between top managers and the board and auditors that inform the CFO but that are not dependent on CFO approval or authorization.

The new structure also provides the CEO information provided directly by the company’s chief compliance and chief accounting officers. Consequently, the CFO, who is responsible for ultimately approving all company payments, is not empowered to be the sole provider of data for financial evaluations by the CEO and board.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

ISO 9000 Certification


Organizations that achieve certain quality standards can apply for ISO 9000 certification. This is administered by independent third parties who check quality management methods. For this you must:

  • Say what you are going to do about quality—describing procedures, operations and inspections;
  • Show that you actually do work in this way;
  • Prove that work was done properly by doing audits and keeping records.

Some people think that ISO standards guarantee high product quality—if you see the label, the product must be good. But really, the standard only shows that an organization has a program of quality management, and that the product quality is consistent and reliable. The quality need not necessarily be good. A manufacturer of metal bearings, for example, will specify the tolerance on the diameter of a bearing; ISO certification means that the bearings will be within this tolerance, but it does not judge whether the tolerance is good enough for any intended use.

There are five separate parts to the ISO 9000 standards:

a)      ISO 9000 defines quality, gives a series of standards an organization might aim for and guides you through the other parts of the series.

b)      ISO 9001 is used by companies whose customers expect them to design and make special products—it deals with the whole range of TQM, from initial product design and development, through to procedures for testing final products and services.

c)      ISO 9002 is used by companies who make standard products—it concentrates on the actual process, and how to document quality.

d)     ISO 9003 deals with final product inspection and testing procedures.

e)      ISO 9004 is a guide to overall quality management and related systems, and says what you should do to develop and maintain quality.

ISO 9000 and 9004 are guides for setting up quality management programs; ISO 9001 and 9002 are the main standards; and ISO 9003 describes some aspects of quality control. These standards are flexible enough to use in almost any organization.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Relationship-based Management


The four steps to moving your organization closer to a relationship based management program are:

  1. Segmentation
  2. Analyzing current behavior
  3. Developing strategy to achieve target behaviors
  4. Behavior maintenance.

By behavior I mean the buying or other behaviors of a customer, in relationship to the organization and its products and services.

In beginning the process it is probably worth taking time to do an audit of all the systems, information, research, marketing knowledge, attractiveness, historical results from promotions and any other additional sources of data that may exist in your organization.

Customer relationship management requires a holistic approach so that the infortmation that is held about customers across the organization is drawn together in one central source or at least cross-accessed so that it can be compiled and collated. For example: information is probably held at an accounting level about customer transactions and appended to that may be a payment record. A different computer system may hold results of marketing activity for different customers or different customer groups. Another database may actually hold information on customer service queries or enquiries – times they may have phoned or contacted you for some question or other. This information needs to be carefully scoped and drawn together.

This analysis is the first part of segmentation by behavior and value. The second stage is to begin an initial segmentation of a customer base. You should include the value, potential value and historical behavior of your customer. This should then be compared with the existing buying patterns and behavior and then contrasted, thirdly, with the future, or target behavior, of an ideal or loyal customer.

Every customer is in some way unique. However, many customers are unique in similar ways. There are practical steps that can be taken to segment customers by value, pattern, and buying criteria.

The next stage is to develop a strategy – a plan or a series of plans to attribute the target behavior to each segment or individual – and then to begin to allocate a budget for each of those behaviors. For example, if you had a mail order business marketing collectible antique replicas, you would identify the different customer segments in terms of their buying behaviors and in terms of how much they had spent in the past; the frequency, the types of products that they had been interested in and the mechanisms that they had responded to – whether that’s direct mail or off the page advertising, the internet etc. if you were then trying to increase the frequency of spend or the transaction value of the spend, this would become a target behavior that you would focus on.

The next stage is to look at the actual technology or systems that will allow you to achieve better relationship management with your customers. This may require some redesign or re-implementation of hardware and software to allow access to the information at a single point.

The final stage is management in the evolution of the process. There is always a matter of trial and error and trial and success. Before implementing a wide scale program it is essential that it is carefully tested on a small part of each segment of the customer base before being rolled out. Indeed by using customer relationship management methods in segmenting customers and customer groups more accurately, test marketing and test promotions can actually be far more accurately guaged and measured.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight