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.

Indicators of Poor Listening


In the customer service environment, you cannot afford the luxury of failing to listen to your customer. Periodically, you should do a self-check on your listening style to see if you need improvement. If any of the following events occur, you may need to refocus.

  • Customers  specifically request to speak to or be served by someone else.
  • You find yourself missing key details of conversations.
  • You regularly have to ask people to repeat information.
  • You walk away from phone calls or personal encounters not completely knowing what action is required of you.
  • Customers often make statements, such as, “Did you hear what I said?” Are you listening to me?” or “You are not listening.”
  • You find yourself daydreaming or distracted as the customer is speaking.
  • You miss accompanying nonverbal cues sent by the customer as the two of you communicate.

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.

At Work or at Home


At work we feel in control. More importantly, our efforts are generally noticed and rewarded. Apart from financial rewards, we get ego gratification at work in countless other ways. Co-workers compliment us on our new outfits. Customers thank us for good service. The boss turns to us for help on an important contract because no one else can handle it as well.

At home, on the other hand, our good work may be taken for granted; we may be noticed only when we do things incorrectly.

With the frequent disparity between the ego-strokes received at home and at work, it’s hardly a wonder that more men and women than ever before are giving in to the siren call of their work, choosing to stay late at the workplace. It is for this reason that many workaholics frankly admit that they seldom need to be forced to work; they simply like to work, more than they like to spend time at home.

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.

Direct Sales Calls


  • Do sufficient research to identify potential customers who appear to need your product. This means pulling together names, addresses, and telephone numbers of companies in your market area that use the types of products you are trying to sell. Calling on companies that do not use your products only wastes time, energy, and money.
  • Get the name, address, and telephone number of the specific individual responsible for purchasing the  types of products you are selling. It won’t do much good to talk to the marketing manager if you’re trying to sell computer programs, or the general manager if you’re selling machine tools.
  • Know your sales pitch before calling. No one has time to chit-chat about superfluous subjects. No one cares about how you feel, nor do they care to tell you how they feel. One sentence describing your product and why the listener should buy it is all you’ve time for. If you continue beyond one sentence, either you’ll be thrown out or you’ll lose the interest of your  potential customer. When buyers want to hear more, they ask questions. If there are no questions, there’s no interest.
  • Don’t attempt to close an order at the first contact—either by phone or in person. If the person is interested, ask what would be convenient time and place for you to return and elaborate on your product offering, including prices, delivery schedules, and quality guarantees.
  • Focus on the benefits to be gained from using your product, not on its price. Explanations of product pricing and delivery options should wait for second contact. If you’re forced to the wall, try to keep your description of your pricing structure general.
  • Follow up all potential leads with another call, a letter, or a sample of your product. The scret to building a first-stage business base through direct sales is to continually follow up with any potential customer that seems the least bit interested in your 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.

Pro Forma Income Statement


Because marketing managers are accountable for the profit impact of their actions, they must translate their strategies and tactics into pro forma, or projected, income statements. A pro forma income statement displays projected revenues, budgeted expenses, and estimated net profit for an organization, product, or service during a specific planning period, usually a year. Pro forma income statements include a sales forecast and a listing of variable and fixed costs that can be programmed or committed.

Pro forma income statements can be prepared in different ways and reflect varying levels of specificity. They have a typical layout consisting of six major categories or line items:

  1. Sales—forecasted unit volume times unit selling price
  2. Cost of goods sold—costs incurred in buying or producing products and services. Generally speaking, these costs are constant per unit within certain volume ranges and vary with total unit volume.
  3. Gross margin (sometimes called gross profit)—represents the remainder after cost of goods sold has been subtracted from sales.
  4. Marketing expenses—generally programmed expenses budgeted to produce sales. Advertising expenses are typically fixed. Sales expenses can be fixed, such as a salesperson’s salary, or variable, such as sales commissions. Freight or delivery expenses are typically constant per unit and vary with total unit volume.
  5. General and administrative expenses—generally, committed fixed costs for the planning period, which cannot be avoided if the organization is to operate. These costs are frequently called overhead.
  6. Net income before (income) taxes (often called net profit before taxes—the remainder after all costs have been subtracted from sales.

A pro forma income statement reflects a marketing manager’s expectations (sales) given criterion inputs (costs). This means that a manager must think specifically about customer response to strategies and tactics and focus attention on the organization’s financial objectives of profitability and growth when preparing a pro forma income statement.

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.

International Codes of Environmental Conduct


A number of business organizations have developed codes of environmental conduct. Among the most important ones are the following:

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): The ICC developed the Business Center for Sustainable Development, 16 principles that identify key elements of environmental leadership and call on companies to recognize environmental management as among their highest corporate priorities.
  • Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI): A group of over 20 companies dedicated to fostering environmental excellence, GEMI developed several environmental self assessment programs, including one that helps firms assess their progress in meeting the goals of the Business Center for Sustainable Development.
  • Keidanren: This major Japanese industry association has published a  Global Environmental Charter that sets out a code of environmental behavior that calls on its members to be “good corporate citizens.”
  • Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA): The U.S. based industry association developed Responsible Care: A Public Commitment, which commits its member-companies to a code of management practices, focusing on process safety, community awareness, pollution prevention, safe distribution, employee health and safety, and product stewardship. The group is working for the international adoption of these principles.
  • CERES Principles: These are 10 voluntary standards developed by the Coalition of Environmentally Responsible economies that commit signatory firms to protection of the biosphere, sustainable use of natural resources, energy conservation, risk reduction, and other environmental goals.
  • International Organization for Standards (ISO): ISO 14000 is a series of voluntary standards introduced in 1966 by the ISO, an international group based in Geneva, Switzerland, that permit companies to be certified as meeting global environmental performance standards.

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.

Ethics Hot Lines


In some companies, when employees are troubled about some ethical issue but may be reluctant to raise it with their immediate supervisor, they can place a call on the company’s ethics hot line. These hot lines have become more common.

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.

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