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.

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Post-sale Customer Loyalty


Maintaining the loyalty of major current customers can be crucial for improving a business’s profitability as its markets mature. Loyal customers become more profitable over time. The firm not only avoids the high costs associated with acquiring a new customer, but it typically  benefits because loyal customers a) tend to concentrate their purchases, thus leading to larger volumes and lower selling  and distribution costs, b) provide positive word-of-mouth and customer referrals, and c) may be willing to pay premium prices for the value they receive.

Periodic measurement of customer satisfaction is important, then, because a dissatisfied customer is unlikely to remain loyal to a company over time. Unfortunately, however, the corollary is not always true. Customers who describe themselves as satisfied are not necessarily loyal. Indeed, 60 to 80 percent of customer defectors in most businesses are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” before their defection. In the interim, perhaps, competitors improved their offerings, the customers requirements changed, or other environmental factors shifted. Businesses that measure customer satisfaction should be commended, but urged not to stop there. Satisfaction measures need to be supplemented with examinations of customer behavior, such as measures of the annual retention rate, frequency for purchases, and the percentage of a customer’s total purchases captured by the firm.

Defecting customers should be studied in detail to discover why the firm failed to provide sufficient value to retain their loyalty. Such failures often provide more valuable information than satisfaction measures because they stand out as a clear, understandable message  telling the organization exactly where improvements are needed..

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.

 

Primary Research Data


Primary data consists of data that is obtained directly from the source. It is generally captured through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or other direct interactions with individuals. The use of primary data has increased dramatically over the past few years, and with the advent of bar code scanners, home shopping, interactive television, and other electronic media, the number of channels through which primary data can be collected will increase exponentially.

Primary data consists of two major types:

  • Individual level demographic data such as age, income, and home value.
  • Attitudinal and behavioral data.

In the past, primary data was often the province of market research, and was used primarily to provide direction for marketing programs that addressed large groups of customers and prospects. Demographic data was used to get a better “fix” on the characteristics of the larger market, and attitudinal data was used to provide a sense of which issues were important to various groups of customers, and therefore should be emphasized in promotional materials.

Market researchers use primarily data to identify new product opportunities or new segments within the customer file. This is usually done by sending surveys to a representative sample of customers or prospects to determine what products and services they are interested in but do not currently purchase from the firm sending the questionnaire. In this way, primary data gathered through market research surveys can lead to the development of products that are either new to the firm or, in some cases, new to the industry.

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.

Balancing Planning Efforts with Day-to-Day Demands


Managers often allow day-to-day activities to capture their attention while planning and strategy fall by the wayside. Use the following suggestions to ensure that you carry out your plans and spend the time you need for planning:

a)      Keep a log to determine how you are spending your time. Evaluate your time allocations to ensure that you are giving proper time and attention to the “big plan.” Consider delegating more.

b)      When you are faced with many demanding and competing priorities, ask yourself which are the most important ones and make them your first priority. When an urgent matter arises, determine how it fits into your daily plan (is it urgent and important, or simply urgent?) and act accordingly.

c)      Use the 80/20 rule, which states that 80 percent of the value of a group of items is generally concentrated in only 20 percent of the items. Simply put, the 80/20 rule means that you can be 80 percent effective by achieving 20 percent of your goals. If you have a daily “to-do” list of ten items, this means that you can generally expect to be 80 percent effective by successfully completing only the two most important items on your list.

d)     Use a software planning package to plan complex and multiple projects. These tools will help you keep track of what needs to be done.

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.

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

Geographic Information Systems


The administration and management of Sales territories presents a tremendous challenge, even to the most experienced sales managers. While you would like to have your salespeople feel that territory administration is done fairly and reasonably, the truth of the matter is that it is usually more of an art than a service. A geographic information system allows a salesperson or sales manager to view and manipulate customer and/or prospect information on an electronic map. Customer information can be accessed directly from contact management data. Information on potential prospects can be entered into the system directly as it is captured, or the information can be purchased in bulk in computer format from third party sources.

Once the information is plotted on a map, the administration of territories becomes immeasurably more accurate. The information can also be manipulated much more easily. In addition, this type of visual representation will often reveal buying patterns or trends that would not otherwise be apparent.

Salespeople can use geographic information systems in planning their sales calls to make the most efficient use of their time. Drive time is minimized when sales call planning is done with geographic considerations in mind.

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

Rationale for having a Vision


Clear vision and strategy, and top management commitment are of crucial importance in the management of change. The vision must be shared, the purpose of change communicated, and employee involvement and commitment secured.

Thje board is primarily responsible for formulating and agreeing a company’s strategic vision and ensuring its implementation. In some companies particular individuals have been given the specific task of ensuring that a corporate vision remains current and vital.

A vision should capture the essence of what a company is all about.

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

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