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.

Common Advertising Techniques


It’s a good idea to be aware of certain common advertising techniques. There is nothing illegal or even misleading about a food advertisement that tempts you because it is photographed in a warm, cozy setting that reminds you of dinners at your grandmother’s house. But you should be aware that you may be buying the product because of the romanticized advertisement. Frequently used advertising techniques include:

  • Use of glamorous figure to endorse a product;
  • Use of sentimental pictures to awaken feelings of longing and nostalgia that the ad suggests may be fulfilled by using the product;
  • Use of “can be,” “up to,” or other “weasel words” that enable the advertiser to avoid making firm promises;
  • Implications that only the most up-to-date people use a certain product;
  • Gimmicks that make you feel you are getting a bonus, such as a free hairbrush attached to a bottle of shampoo;
  • Creation of market through convincing you that a new product will revolutionize your life.

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.

Inflation and Disinflation


Fiscal policy is related to inflation, which occurs when the prices of goods and services rise steadily throughout the economy. Although many factors (such as increases in the prices of imported goods) contribute to inflation, government borrowing is major factor. When the government borrows great sums of money to bolster the economy, the total amount of money circulating tends to increase. With more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services, inflation increases too.

Theoretically, the government is supposed to pay back its debt during inflationary times, thereby taking some of the excess money out of the economy and slowing inflation to moderate level. This system worked throughout 1950s and 1960s, but during the 1970s, inflation kept building. By the end of the decade, prices were increasing by almost 14 percent a year.

Inflation of this magnitude brings an unproductive mind-set. People become motivated to buy “before the prices goes up,” even if they have to borrow money to do it. With greater competition for available money, interest rates increase to a level that makes business borrowing riskier and business expansion slower. Businesses and individuals alike begin spending on short-term items instead of investing in things like new factories and children’s education, which are more valuable to the nation’s economy in the long run.

Because of the peculiar psychology that accompanies high inflation, slowing it has always been difficult. In addition, the causes of inflation are complex, and the remedies can be painful. Nevertheless, several factors conspired to bring about a period of disinflation, a moderation in the inflation rate, during the 1980s.

Whether inflation will remain under control is debatable. The country is still vulnerable to outside shock. Bad weather could jack up food prices, and political upheavals could limit the supply and boost the price of vital raw materials. Also, government efforts to stimulate the economy could rekindle inflation. When the economy slumps, the government is inclined to increase the money supply, which tends to drive prices up.

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.

Adding Frosting to the Cake


Smart people in all fields add some frosting to the cake they sell. Putting frosting on the cake means giving people more than they expect to receive, and it begins with simple things. A smart business manager never places negative people in upfront jobs, such as telephone operator, receptionist, check-out stand cashier, and ticket seller the customers and clients a business serves rarely, if ever,  see the firm president or a key manager. They judge the business rightly or wrongly by the way they are treated by the ‘unimportant’ people.

Experienced travelers stay at hotels where the reservations are polite and positive; people choose restaurants based on the attitudes of people who seat them, serve them, and take their money. How good the food tastes is always less important than the service in building repeat patronage. And the companies that deliver packages know courteous, friendly service is their best competitive weapon in beating the Postal Service where, generally, counter-personnel are negative in attitude.

Words and phrases as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you look good today’ are free frosting that make sales and build businesses. Call your business or office. If you don’t hear a wonderful, “I am really glad you called” voice, train or replace the person. Have a friend stop in at your business. If he doesn’t get great service, take corrective action.

Success-oriented people ask, “How can I give others more than they expect? What kind of frosting can I put on the cake I’m selling?”

A cake—the product or service you offer—is just baked dough. But when you put some frosting on it and give it a little post-sale service, you’ve made the dough delicious. Try it, and enjoy the rewards.

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.

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

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

Disambiguating Cash Budget


Most people plan expenditures for food, clothing, and other needs on the basis of expected income. Along with these short-term plans, many individuals and families use income estimates to plan for long-term activities, such as college expenses, the purchase of a house or car. This process of planning for the financial needs of the future is called budgeting. A budget, whether formal or informal, is a plan for utilization of anticipated resources.

The budget of a business serves much the same function as an individual or family budget. Like a personal or family budget, a business budget plans the expenditure of anticipated funds for immediate and long-term goals.

One budget common to both large and small businesses is called the cash budget. The cash budget is a detailed plan showing how cash resources will be acquired and used over a specific time period. For many companies, this time period is monthly for the first three months of the budget period, then quarterly for the remainder of the year. A typical cash budget is composed of four major sections:

  1. The receipts section. This section consists of the sum of the opening cash balance and estimated cash receipts for the budget period. For many firms, the major source of cash receipts is sales.
  2. The disbursement section. This section consists of all estimated cash payments for the budget period. Examples are payments for labor and materials, taxes, equipment purchases, and advertising.
  3. The cash excess or cash deficiency section. The entries in this section represent the difference between the totals of the receipts section and the disbursements section. If receipts are greater than disbursements, there is an excess of cash. If receipts are less than disbursements, there is a cash deficiency.
  4. The financing section. This section gives an account of any borrowing or loan repayments projected to take place during the budget period.

While the cash budget is useful to all companies, it is especially helpful to small firms because management can exercise more control in matching income with disbursements, in negotiating loans with the most favorable interest rates and terms, and in planning investments when there is an excess of cash.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com

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