The Aging Crisis


Not a company exists whose management doesn’t say, at least for public consumption, that it wants an organization flexible enough to adjust quickly to changing market conditions, lean enough to beat any competitor’s price, innovative enough to keep its products and services technologically fresh, and dedicated enough to deliver maximum quality and consumer service.

So, if managements want companies that are lean, nimble, flexible, responsive, competitive, innovative, efficient, customer-focused, and profitable, why are so many. Companies are bloated, clumsy, rigid, sluggish, non-competitive, uncreative, inefficient, disdainful of customer needs, and losing money. The answers lie in how these companies do their work and why they do it that way.

Corporations do not perform badly because workers are lazy and managements are inept. Just the same, the record of industrial and technological accomplishment over the past century is proof enough that managements are not inept and workers do work.

Inflexibility, unresponsiveness, the absence of customer focus, an obsession with activity rather than result, bureaucratic paralysis, lack of innovation, high overhead—these are the legacies of industrial leadership. These characteristics are not new; they have not suddenly appeared. They have been present all along. If costs are high they can be passed on to customers. If customers are dissatisfied, they have nowhere else to turn. If new products are slow in coming, customers will wait. The important managerial job is to manage growth, and the rest doesn’t matter. Now that growth has flattened out, the rest matters a great deal.

The business problem is that in 21st century with companies designed during the nineteenth century to work well in the twentieth—we need something different.

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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Handling Challenging Situations


Challenging situations are critical moments during which customers can be satisfied or lost forever. When you handle dissatisfied customers well, you help retain business and customer goodwill; a successful recovery can even help build customer loyalty. It is important to be focused, personable, and sincere. Keep in mind that a customer’s strong language or angry words are not intended as a personal attack.

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.

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.

 

Attitude and Customer Liaison


Attitude is not always easy to understand, train or instill. It is generally defined as a positive, enthusiastic and helpful attitude – somebody that seems more alive and dead, it means somebody who seems to enjoy what they do or enjoys dealing with customers, not just somebody who happens to do this as a job to earn a living. Even though this may be true, a good customer service experience is one where the customer service person pretends if nothing else, that they enjoy their job – they like doing what they do and they are pleased to see the customer. If the customer representative can do this, the customer will pretend to enjoy buying from them and pretend enough that they will probably come back.

One of the most important aspects of attitude is when the customer is dissatisfied. The customer will then seem to view life through a telephoto lens and every detail or every aspect of the interaction will come under scrutiny. Therefore, the attitude must be to look at a glass of water as half full, instead of half empty.

One of the most important and outward expression of attitude is the verbal and non-verbal behavior that people use at critical times. Simple expressions, such as: ‘I can do that’ or ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘That’s our company policy’ or ‘I only work here’ or ‘You’ve come through to wrong extension,’ only frustrate the customer. Some of these factors, of course, may not be because of anything the person can do; however, it is their attitude that will often create more of an annoyance with the customer than the policy itself. A simple solution to this is that whenever somebody has to be told they can’t do something, within the same sentence they have to know what they can do or may do.

The attitude that will work, if you can instill it, is that every single customer is your most important customer. Instead of seeing a customer for the transaction value that they spend at that time or for the nature of their enquiry, see the customer as a million dollar customer, somebody who has access to large revenue, either through their direct spending or indirectly through referrals and repeat business.

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.

Reducing Job Stress


There are a number of ways to alleviate stress. These range from commonsense remedies (such as getting more sleep and eating better) to more exotic remedies like biofeedback and meditation. Finding a more suitable job, getting counseling, and planning and organizing each day’s activities are other sensible responses. In his book, Stress and Manager, Dr Karl Albrecht suggests the following ways to reduce job stress:

  • Build rewarding, pleasant, cooperative relationships with colleagues and employees.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Build an especially effective and supportive relationship with your boss.
  • Negotiate with your boss for realistic deadlines on important projects.
  • Learn as much as you can about upcoming events and get as much lead time as you can to prepare for them.
  • Find time every day for detachment and relaxation.
  • Take a walk around the office to keep your body refreshed and alert.
  • Find ways to reduce unnecessary noise.
  • Reduce the amount of trivia in your job; delegate routine work whenever possible.
  • Limit interruptions.
  • Don’t put off dealing with dissatisfied problems.
  • Make a constructive “worry list” that includes solutions for each problem.

The employer and its HR specialists and supervisors can also play a role in identifying and reducing job stress. Supportive supervisors and fair treatment are two obvious steps. Other steps include:

  • Reduce personal conflicts on the job.
  • Have open communication between management and employees.
  • Support employees’ efforts, for instance, by regularly asking how they are doing.
  • Ensure effective job-person fit, since a mistake can trigger stress.
  • Give employees more control over their jobs.
  • Provide employee assistance programs including professional counseling.

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.

Change and Satisfaction


Organizational change can be protracted and costly. For example, termination payments to people and penalties relating to changed property arrangements can both be expensive. In some companies it would appear that decisions regarding who should be kept or made redundant are governed more by accumulated rights in the event of termination than managerial merit or quality. Some assets are also difficult to dispose of in a recession.

Occasionally, companies become carried away with concepts and push their application to the extreme. Judgment is needed to decide how far to go in relation to the current situation and context of a company.

For a period, and until the benefits appear to come through, corporate transformation may be accompanied by a slide in the employee satisfaction ratings. The trends need to be monitored, the causes identified and, where appropriate, remedial programs put in place. Opinion surveys can be used to track attitudes to change in various parts of the corporate organization.

Understanding the reasons for dissatisfaction could lead to a change in transformation priorities, if not in direction. Japanese companies, such as Honda encourage their staff to be dissatisfied with whatever has been achieved in order that they will aspire to do even better.

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

Principles of Quality Management


Vision-based:

  • Vision will give a sense of direction.
  • Vision will motivate human resource.
  • Vision will help the organization to stay focused.
  • Without vision an organization will fail.
  • Absence of vision will lead to confusion.

 Customer-focused:

  • Open economy has given away monopoly. It is buyer’s market which is in existence now.
  • Without customers no business can exist.
  • Internal customer orientation will improve productivity.
  • One dissatisfied customer can create havoc by unprecedented actions.
  • Retention of customer is the key issue in business.

 Prevention oriented:

  • Prevention is better than cure is a well acknowledged phrase.
  • Prevention orientation will take one nearer to ‘Zero Defects’ status.
  • Foolproof prevention techniques such as ‘Poka Yoka’ are available.
  • Corrective approach calls for costly monitoring mechanism.
  • Correction does not stop recurrence.

 Scientifically approached:

  • Scientific methods are based on fundamental or derived laws of mathematics and science and hence the foundation is strong.
  • Scientific methods are well proved over the years and hence chances of going wrong is remote.
  • Use of scientific methods gives a sense of pride and improves the self esteem of workers.
  • Unscientific methods make one ti depend on the previous experience, which may bot be appropriate.
  • Logical reasoning which may not always be appropriate is avoided in scientific methods.

 Process given more importance than end results:

  • End does not justify means.
  • Proper means will ensure quality result.
  • Zero defect is possible only if the processes are perfect.
  • Process orientation will make workers more responsible.
  • Result orientation will end up with huge los as all the defects are to be rejected.

 Data-based analysis:

  • Data-based approach will always give the best insight to the problem and solution.
  • Information-based or knowledge-based approach may mislead at all times.
  • Data collection is a strenous process; however the returns will be higher.
  • In many situations the raw data themselves will provide solutions to problems or at least provide useful clues.
  • Data collected and documented for one specific purpose, can well be used for some other purpose, thus providing a databank or multiple applications.

 Continuous improvement strategies

  • No one at any point of time can say that ‘Perfection’ has been achieved. Even six sigma companies talk about 3 ppm defects. Hence there is always scope for improvement in everything. Quality improvement is a never ending process.
  • The world has become so competitive that dynamism should reflect in every facet of business, even in product development.
  • Crativity and innovation are the order of the day in business circles.
  • Established tools such as ‘benchmarking’ are available for continuous improvement.
  • Improved products will have a cutting edge in the market.

 Cost conscious attempt:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) is the performance index for any business enterprise.
  • The visible quality costs are like the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of hidden  costs that go unnoticed.
  • Quality is free, meaning poor quality costs can be offset by good quality profit margin.
  • Affordability is the key factor for customers and profit margin is the key factor for manufacturers.
  • Prevention which could be done with $1 is missed, the failure/defects due to that will cost the company $10. the cost ratios are so high.

 Documentation for traceability

  • Stakeholders ae assured of the quality through documentation.
  • Traceability is effective and easy with documented information.
  • Documentation will amount to standardization.
  • To err is human; documentation helps in curbing human errors.
  • Role clarity is ascertained which reduces workplace confusion.

 Reward/Recognition assured

  • Recognition is one thing that every human being long for.
  • Motivation is the key factor for sustaining quality initiatives.
  • Rewards may be helpful in motivating non-performers to join quality initiators.
  • Disinterest in the job being done is the main culprit for low productivity and poor quality.
  • Human component plays a major role as compared to system component in quality initiatives.

 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