Extending the Product Life Cycle


The concept of the product life cycle tells us that a sequence of actions is required to maintain a product’s sales and profits. The goal of the planning is to stretch out the life of the product, thus keeping it profitable longer. The following techniques are often effective in extending a product’s life cycle:

  1. New or extended uses: The sales of rugged four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles, ranging from inexpensive jeeps to Range Rovers, increased dramatically once they became accepted as family automobiles.
  2. b. Reduce price and build volume: Tylenol became a much more successful product after Johnson & Johnson reduced its price.
  3. c. Increased frequency of Use: Trade associations that are connected to the poultry and fish industries have been successful in informing the public that their products are low in cholesterol and should be eaten frequently as part of a healthy diet.
  4. d. Broaden the target market: As the ethical issue, American tobacco firms have successfully enlarged the market for American cigarettes by focusing on Japan. They have also been very successful in expanding the market for tobacco products in Europe and South America.

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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Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

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.

Market-oriented Ethnography


To fully understand how customers of other cultures assess and use services, it is necessary and effective to use approaches, such as market-oriented ethnography. This set of approaches allows researchers to observe consumption behavior in natural settings. The goal is to enter the consumer’s world as much as possible—observing how and when a service is used in an actual home environment or consumption environment, such as watching consumers eat in restaurants or attend concerts. Among the techniques used are observation, interviews, documents, and examination of material possessions, such as artifacts. Observation involves entering the experience as a participant observer and watching what occurs rather than asking questions about it. One-on-one interviews, particularly with key informants in the culture rather than consumers themselves, can provide compelling insights about culture-based behavior. Studying existing documents and cultural artifacts can also provide valuable insights, especially about lifestyles and usage patterns.

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.

Problems of Conduct


In Japan’s early history, a serious disregard for manners could be punishable by death, and any samurai could kill any common person who failed to show him proper respect. The Japanese were required to behave in precisely prescribed ways—wearing permitted clothing, walking only a certain way, sleeping with their heads pointing in a certain direction and legs arranged a particular way. Eating, greeting, gesturing with hands, opening doors and many work tasks had to be done in assigned ways without deviation. Conduct became a measure of morality, and virtue in manners was visible for all to see. Even today, the code of conduct plays a significant role in the lives of the Japanese. Many societies, not Japan alone, have a prescribed form and manner for every familiar situation that might arise. Unforeseen situations can cause intense embarrassment or discomfort. Throughout East Asia, actions are judged by the manner in which they are performed. More important than the accomplishment of a task is the question of how someone went about trying to complete the task: Did he act sincerely? More important than winning the race is the grace of the runner. More important than expertise is the way one gets along with others. More important than profits is harmony. In contrast, Westerners and particularly Americans are more concerned with the principles of things, hard “measures” and objective facts. Although rules of ethics are extremely important, we are more goal oriented than method-conscious, we say “a good loser is a loser.”

One aspect of form is the concept of “face.” Much has been written about “face-saving” in Japan and China, but face-saving is important absolutely everywhere. The difference is only a matter of degree and nuance. Where an American might feel a little guilty or inadequate, an Asian, Arab or South American may feel deep shame and humiliation. What an American might see as a little honest and constructive criticism, the foreigner may take as a devastating blow to pride and dignity. A foreigner is likely to be sensitive to feelings of others in transactions that an American would consider strictly impersonal, such as returning a defective product or switching hairdressers. The traveler simply must be more conscious of saying things or behaving in ways that cannot be taken as disrespect, criticism or humiliation. In some countries it seems just about anything can be taken personally, even such indirect affronts as not taking your shoes off in a mosque or complaining about the heat.

Harmony with the environment can be as important as sensitivity to people in some cultures. In Japan a woman wears a soft pastel dress to a flower show so as not to take away from the beauty of the flowers. In countries where people believe in reincarnation they are careful about all forms of life. In India, for example, people are careful not to swallow gnats or step on ants—one might be a relative.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight.