Closing the Customer Gap


The gaps model says that a service marketer must first close the customer gap between customer perceptions and expectations. To do so, the provider must close the four provider gaps, or discrepancies within the organization that inhibit delivery of quality service. The gaps model focuses on strategies and processes that firms can employ to drive service excellence.

Customer perceptions are subjective assessment of actual service experiences. Customer expectations are the standards or reference points for performance against which service experiences are compared and are often formulated in terms of what a customer believes will or should happen.

The sources of customer expectations consist of marketer-controlled factor (such as pricing, advertising, and sales promises) as well as factors that the marketer has limited ability to affect (innate personal needs, word-of-mouth communications, and competitive offerings). In a perfect world, expectations and perceptions would be identical: customers would perceive that they receive what they thought they would and should. In practice these concepts are often separated by some distance. Broadly, it is the goal of service marketing to bridge this distance.

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.

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.

Meeting Management: Writing Agenda or Memo


A written memo or agenda is the best means of giving and securing information and if properly put together will focus you as well as the recipients on the objective of the meeting and the means to achieve it. During the meeting it can also be used as a guide and reference, and after the meeting it can serve as a reminder of what was to be accomplished and a means of checking on follow-up actions. Time spent preparing a written agenda will save time during any meeting. Keep it short. Write no agenda or memo longer than one page. Any additional materials, charts, or graphs necessary for the meeting should be included on separate pages, stapled or paper-clipped to your one-page memo or agenda.

The memo or agenda should state the objective of the meeting, the issues to be discussed, the time to meeting will begin and end, the place, the participants involved, and what is expected of them in the way of preparation before the meeting.

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.

 

Selecting your Foreign Agent


  1. Your agent should be a national of the country where you aim to do business and should have experience in your industry or product line.
  2. The agent should not be involved with a competing company or product, but could be representing a complimentary line.
  3. Do your own checking of references. Have your banker check your agent’s bank references.
  4. Where credit is an issue, get a credit report from a local credit agency.
  5. Check at least five or six of the agent’s references: clients, customers or other business contacts relevant to your business.
  6. Visit your prospective agent in the foreign country and ask to come along on customer calls. Watch carefully how clients, secretaries, and purchasing agents respond to the agent.
  7. Since the personal relationship is so important in business abroad, the contact person must be someone who can negotiate for your company and who has authority to sign a contract on the spot.
  8. Make sure responsibilities are clear. The agent is typically responsible for promoting your interests and products, but it is no standard procedure as to who pays for what. For example, the agent can design local advertising campaign and pay for it, or bill you, or, conversely, you must provide advertising.
  9. If possible, make the written contract with your agent short-term and nonexclusive so that you have a safety valve. However, it is essential for you to treat it as an exclusive arrangement and to establish a strong mutual long-term commitment. Many agents will not consider a contract that is not exclusive or that does not continue for several years.
  10. Consult a local attorney before making any commitment to a national. It is difficult to get out of an agent agreement, so terms of termination and other “outs” should be established in the beginning. Agency laws in foreign countries are changing rapidly and legal problems arising from small mistakes can put you out of the market permanently

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.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior


Behavioral scientists have become increasingly aware of the powerful effects of the social environment and personal interactions on human behavior. In terms of consumer behavior, culture, social class, and reference group influences have been related to purchase and consumption decisions. It should be noted that these influences can have both direct and indirect effects on the buying process. By direct effects means direct communication between the individual and other members of society concerning a particular decision. By indirect effects means the influence of society on an individual’s basic values and attitudes as well as the important role that groups play in structuring an individual’s personality.

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.

The Customer Gap


Customer gap is the difference between customer expectations and perceptions. Expectations are the reference points customers have coming into a service experience; perceptions reflect the service as actually received. The idea is that firms will want to close this gap—between what is expected and what is received—to satisfy their customers and build long-term relationships with them. To close this all-important customer gap, the provider gaps need to be closed.

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.

Writing Business Summaries


Businesspeople are bombardedwith masses of information, and at one time or another, everyone in business relies on someone else’s summary of a situation, publication, or document. To write a summary, gather the information (whether by reading, talking with others, or observing circumstances), organize that information, and then present it in your own words. Although many pople assume that summarizing is a simple skill, it’s actually more complex than it appears. A well written summary has at least three characteristics..

First, as in writing any business document, be sure the content is accurate. If you’re summarizing a report or a group of reports, make sure you present the information without error. Check your references, and then check for typos.

Second, make your summary comprehensive and balanced. The purpose of writing your summary is usually to help colleagues or supervisors make a decision, so include all the information necessary for your readers to understand the situation, problem, or proposal. If the issue you’re summarizing has more than one side, present all sides fairly and equitably. Make sure you include all the information necessary. Even though summaries are intended to be as brief as possible, your readers need a minimum amount of information to grasp the issue being presented.

Third, make your sentence structure clear, and include good transitions. The only way your summary will save anyone’s time is if your sentences are uncluttered, use well-chosen words, and proceed logically. Then, to help your readers move from one point to the next, your transitions must be just as clear and logical. Basically, when writing your summary be sure to cut through the clutter. Identify those ideas that belong together, and organize them in a way that’s easy to understand.

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

Calculating Market Share


Market share is the ratio of the competitor’s annual sales to the total annual sales of competitive products in the market being served by the competitors. It is usually measured by dividing the  competitor’s sales in dollars by the total sales volume in dollars for the industry. Dollars are used in the calculation because monetary value is usually easy to obtain.

As may be seen from the dimensions describing the horizontal axis of the economic experience curve. It would make more sense to measure the market share in units sold during the year. Dollar volume does not double when volume in units shipped doubles if price decreases with experience.

The dimensions of the experience curve are fully allocated unit expense in constant dollars and cumulative number of units produced. The reference to doubling sales is measured in units shipped. Because this kind of measure could be counted off on the horizontal axis of the curve, it is possible to relate the growth in shipments to fully allocated expense in constant dollards, a reasonable profit margin, and the resulting dollar volume of sales.

The difficulty in obtaining the information needed to calculate market shares in terms of units shipped is often resolved by trade association data, which reports in both units and dollars. Still the associations may not include every possible competitor among their membership. In almost all cases, however, the non-members are not big enough to be significant. Even without the non-member data, the trade association information is a good approximation to the actual figures.

Given that sufficient data is available, it is not entirely necessary to know a competitor’s exact market share. The information most meaningful to a manager is market share compared to that of the nearest competitor. This gives rise to the concept of a market share ratio.

A proposed ratio that has special meaning when used in conjunction with the economic experience curve. The ratio may be best understood as:

Market Share Ratio =   Your Market Share __________

Market Share of Your Biggest Competitor

The interesting result of defining the ratio this way is that only one competitor has a ratio greater than one. All the others have functional ratios, less than one. For instance, if you the largest market share your biggest competitor will have a smaller share than you, and your ratio will be a number greater than one. If your biggest competitor has a market share larger than yours, your ratio will be less than one.

Because only one competitor has market share ratio greater than unity, the dominant competitor is identified by a number greater than one. Also, the degree of the biggest competitor’s dominance is indicated by the size of the number.

Typically, when a new business concept arises that can be represented by an economic experience curve, several competitors enter the marketplace within a very short span of time. There is an initial market penetratiuon in which market shares are established. Managers have learned how difficult it is to change the market share of the competitors once they have been established. Market shares among suppliers who are competing forcefully tend to remain reasonably constant. Cummulative experience relative to other competitors tends to be aligned with the market share ratios.

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

Partnering with Customers


  1. Pick high-visibility, vocal customers as your research partners and test sites. When you succeed together, they’ll spread the word quickly to their peers and pave your way into the market.
  2. As your customer list grows, organize their names and phone numbers by product and geographic area so you can easily provide references keyed to a prospect’s interests.
  3. Gather passive (i.e., written testimonials and quotes from customers to use in your sales materials, ads, and proposals. Remember to use videos.
  4. Use active testimonials with important prospects: Ask two or three present customers to call a prospective one, rather than waiting for the prospect to call them.
  5. Use on-site testimonials. Arrange a tour of customer premises where prospects can see your products performing.
  6. Find customers willing to meet prospects on your turf to endorse you and your products.
  7. Conduct joint presentations with your customers at industry meetings. Coauthor articles to automatically share the limelight with your customers.
  8. Bring your customers together at least once a year to share ideas with each other, give you feedback, critique new product concepts, and have a good time. Invite a few key prospects—they’re likely to come away sold.
  9. Take customers to trade shows and go to theirs. The better you know each other, the more value you both receive.
  10. Treat your customer-partners as heroes. Thank them—and more. For example, feature them in your newsletter, mail them a poster-sized letter signed by all your employees, or send a dozen balloons to their offices.

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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