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.

Social Interactions


Social interactions establish the role that people play in a society and their authority responsibility pattern. Their roles and patterns are supported by a society’s institutional framework, which includes, for example, education and marriage.

Social roles are established by culture. For example, a woman can be a wife, a mother, a community leader, and/or an employee. What role is preferred in different situations is culture-bound. Most Swiss women consider household work as their primary role. For this reason, they resent modern gadgets and machines. Behavior also emerges from culture in the form of conventions, rituals, and practices on different occasions such as during festivals, marriages, get-togethers, and times of grief or religious celebration.

With reference to marketing, the social interactions influence family decision-making and buying behavior and define the scope of personal influence and opinion. In Latin America and Asia the extended family is considered the most basic and stable unit of social organization. It is the center for all economic, political, social, and religious life. It provides companionship, protection, and a common set of values with specifically prescribed means for fulfilling them. By contrast, in the US the nuclear family (husband, wife, and children) is the focus of social organization. The US wife plays a more autonomous role than the Dutch wife in family decision-making. Thus social roles vary from culture to culture and are likely to affect marketing behavior.

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.

Not-for-Profit Marketing


Non-for-Profit organizations encounter a special set of characteristics that influence their marketing activities. Like profit making firms, not-for-profit organizations may market tangible goods and/or intangible services. One important distinction exists between not-for-profit organizations and profit oriented companies. Profit-seeking businesses tend to focus their marketing on just one public—their customers. Not-for-profit organizations, however, must often market to multiple publics, which complicates decision-making regarding the correct markets to target. Many deal with at least two major publics—their clients and their sponsors—and often many other publics, as well. Political candidates, for example, target both voters and campaign contributors. A college targets prospective students as clients of its marketing program, but it also markets to current students, parents of students, alumni, faculty, staff, local businesses, and local government agencies.

A second distinguishing characteristic of not-for-profit marketing is that a customer or service user may wield less control over the organization’s destiny than would be true for customers of a profit-seeking firm. A government employee may be  far more concerned with the opinion of a member of the legislature’s appropriations committee than with that of a service user. Not-for-profit organizations also often possess some degree of monopoly power in a given geographic area.

Perhaps the most commonly noted feature of the non-profit-organization is its lack of a bottom line—business jargon referring to the overall profitability measure of performance. Profit-seeking firms measure profitability in terms of sales and revenues. While not-for-profit organizations may attempt to maximize their return from specific services, they usually substitute less exact goals, such as service-level standards, for overall evaluation criteria. As a result, it is often difficult to set marketing objectives that are aligned specifically with overall organizational goals.

A typical aspect of a non-for-profit organization is the lack of a clear organizational structure. Not-for-profit organizations often respond to constituencies that they serve, but these usually are less exact than, for example, the stockholders of a profit-oriented corporation. Not-for-profit organizations often have multiple organizational structures.

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.

Forces in the Environments


Environment is the sum of all the forces surrounding and influencing the life and development of the firm. The forces themselves can be classified as external or internal. Management has no direct control over them, though it can exert influences. The external forces are commonly called uncontrollable forces and consist of the following:

  1. Competitive: kinds and numbers of competitors, their locations, and their activities.
  2. Distributive: national and international agencies available for distributing goods and services.
  3. Economic: variables (such as GNP, unit labor cost, and personal consumption expenditure) that influence a firm’s ability to do business.
  4. Socio-economic: characteristics and distribution of the human population.
  5. Financial: variables such as interest rates, inflation rates, and taxation.
  6. Legal: the many kinds of foreign and domestic laws by which international firms must operate.
  7. Physical: elements of nature such as topography, climate, and natural resources.
  8. Political: elements of nations’ political climates such as nationalism, forms of government, and international organizations.
  9. Socio-cultural: elements of culture (such as attitudes, beliefs, and opinions) important to international businesspeople.
  10. Labor: consumption, skills, and attitudes of labor.
  11. Technological: the technical skills and equipment that affects how resources are converted to products.

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.

 

Corporate Disclosures


Giving stockholders more and better company information is one of the best ways to safeguard their interests. The theory behind the move for greater disclosure of company information is that a stockholder, as an investor, should be as fully informed as possible to make sound investments. By law, stockholders have a right to know about the affairs of the corporation in which they hold ownership shares. Those who attend annual meetings learn about past performance and future goals through speeches made by corporate officers and documents such as the company’s annual report. Those who do not attend meetings must depend primarily on annual reports issued by the company and the opinions of independent financial analysts.

Historically, management has tended to provide stockholders with minimum information. But companies now disclose more about their affairs, in spite of the complicated nature of some information. Stockholders therefore can learn about sales and earnings, assets, capital expenditures and depreciation by line of business, and details of foreign operations.

Corporations also are required to disclose detailed information about directors, how they are chosen, their compensation, conflicts of interest, and their reasons for resigning in policy disputes with management.

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.

 

Public Relations (PR)


Public Relations is the management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. In other words a good public relations program has three steps:

  1. Listen to the public: Public relations starts with good marketing research (evaluates public attitudes).
  2. Develops policies and procedures that are in the public interest: One does not earn understanding by bombarding the public with propaganda; one earns understanding by having programs and practices in the public interest.
  3. Inform people of the fact that you are being responsive to their needs: It is not enough to simply have programs that are in the public interest. You have to tell the public about those programs so that they know you are being responsive.

Publicity is one of the major functions of the public relations department. Publicity is any information about an individual, a product, or an organization that is distributed to the public through the media and that is not paid for, or controlled by, the sponsor.

Other activities include:

  • Establishing contact with civic groups, consumer organizations, and other concerned citizens to learn their views of the organization, to answer their questions, and to provide information (or education).
  • Opening lines of communication with customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, stockholders, government agencies, educators, and community leaders.
  • Conducting studies to find the economic, environmental, and social consequences of organizational practices and to learn how to make a more positive contribution to customers, stakeholders, and society.
  • Providing any assistance needed to adjust the goals, policies, practices, personnel policies, products, and programs of the organization to meet the needs of changing markets.
  • Assisting all members of the firm in developing effective programs of consumer information and education.
  • Sending speakers to schools, clubs, and other such groups to maintain an open dialogue with students and other socially active members of society.
  • Creating incentives for employees to participate in public-affairs activities such as raising funds for charitable groups.
  • Answering consumer and other complaints promptly and correcting whatever it was that caused the complint.
  • Training employees or volunteers to provide prompt, friendly, courteous, and helpful service to anyone who contacts the organization in person, by phone, or written correspondence.
  • Demonstrating to society the organization is listening, reacting, adjusting, and progressing in its attempt to satisfy its diverse publics.
  • Opening two-way communications with employees to generate favorable employee opinion and to motivate employees to speak well of the organization to others.

This is an incomplete description of all the activities and responsibilities of the PR people, but it at least gives some feeling for what they do.

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.

 

Group Decision-Making


The person leading the discussion can have a big effect on whether the group’s decision is useful. If a chairperson monopolizes and continually shoots down others’ ideas while pushing his or her own, it’s likely that other points of view will go unexpressed.

An effective discussion leader has responsibility to do the following:

  1. See that all group members participate. As discussion leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that all group members participate and have an opportunity to express their opinions. Doing so can help ensure that different points of view emerge and that everyone takes ownership of the final decision.
  2. Distinguish between idea getting and idea evaluation. Evaluating and criticizing proposed solutions and ideas actually inhibit the process of getting  or generating new ideas. Yet in most group discussions, one person presents an alternative, and others begin immediately discussing its pros and cons. As a result, group members quickly become apprehensive about suggesting new ideas. Distinguishing between the idea getting and idea evaluation stages—in particular, forbidding criticism of an idea until all ideas have been presented—can be useful here.
  3. Not respond to each participant or dominate the discussion. Remember that the discussion leader’s main responsibility is to elicit ideas from the group, not to supply them. As a discussion leader, you should therefore work hard to facilitate free expression of ideas and avoid dominating the discussion.
  4. See that the effort is directed toward overcoming surmountable obstacles. In other words, focus on solving the problem rather than on discussing historical events that cannot be changed. Some groups make the mistake of becoming embroiled in discussion about who is to blame for the problem or what should have been done to avoid the problem. Such discussions can’t lead to solutions because the past can’t be changed. As a discussion leader, your job is to ensure that the group focuses on obstacles that can be overcome and solutions that can be implemented.

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.

Previous Older Entries