Be Inquisitive in Customer Service


Desire quality, efficiency, and precision

  • Focus on the customer’s need for accuracy and efficiency by methodically outlining steps, processes, or details related to a product or service.
  • Communication should be tied into facts, not feelings.
  • Have details and information prepared in advance and be thoroughly familiar with them
  • Approach encounters in a direct, businesslike, low-key manner.
  • Avoid small talk and speaking about yourself.
  • Ask specific open-ended questions about customers’ background or experiences related o the product or service.
  • Present solutions in a sequential fashion stressing advantages, value, quality, reliability and price. Also, be prepared to point out and discuss disadvantages.
  • Have documentation available to substantiate your claims.
  • Don’t pressure customer decisions and follow through on promises.

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

Audience-Centered Approach to Communication


Beside other things, effective organizational communication is audience-centered approach. Keep your audience in mind at all time during the process of communication. Empathizing with, being sensitive to, and generally considering your audience’s feelings is the best approach for effective communication. The audience-centered approach is more than an approach to business communication; it’s actually the modern approach to business in general, behind such concepts as total quality management and total customer satisfaction.

 Because you care about your audience, you take every step possible to get your message across in a way that is meaningful to your audience. You might actually create lively individual portraits of readers and listeners to predict how they will react. You might simply try to put yourself in your audience’s position. You might try adhering strictly to guidelines about courtesy, or you might be able to gather information about the needs and wants of your audience. Whatever your tactic, the point is to write and speak from your audience’s point of view.

 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.

Indicators of Poor Listening


In the customer service environment, you cannot afford the luxury of failing to listen to your customer. Periodically, you should do a self-check on your listening style to see if you need improvement. If any of the following events occur, you may need to refocus.

  • Customers  specifically request to speak to or be served by someone else.
  • You find yourself missing key details of conversations.
  • You regularly have to ask people to repeat information.
  • You walk away from phone calls or personal encounters not completely knowing what action is required of you.
  • Customers often make statements, such as, “Did you hear what I said?” Are you listening to me?” or “You are not listening.”
  • You find yourself daydreaming or distracted as the customer is speaking.
  • You miss accompanying nonverbal cues sent by the customer as the two of you communicate.

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.

Pro Forma Income Statement


Because marketing managers are accountable for the profit impact of their actions, they must translate their strategies and tactics into pro forma, or projected, income statements. A pro forma income statement displays projected revenues, budgeted expenses, and estimated net profit for an organization, product, or service during a specific planning period, usually a year. Pro forma income statements include a sales forecast and a listing of variable and fixed costs that can be programmed or committed.

Pro forma income statements can be prepared in different ways and reflect varying levels of specificity. They have a typical layout consisting of six major categories or line items:

  1. Sales—forecasted unit volume times unit selling price
  2. Cost of goods sold—costs incurred in buying or producing products and services. Generally speaking, these costs are constant per unit within certain volume ranges and vary with total unit volume.
  3. Gross margin (sometimes called gross profit)—represents the remainder after cost of goods sold has been subtracted from sales.
  4. Marketing expenses—generally programmed expenses budgeted to produce sales. Advertising expenses are typically fixed. Sales expenses can be fixed, such as a salesperson’s salary, or variable, such as sales commissions. Freight or delivery expenses are typically constant per unit and vary with total unit volume.
  5. General and administrative expenses—generally, committed fixed costs for the planning period, which cannot be avoided if the organization is to operate. These costs are frequently called overhead.
  6. Net income before (income) taxes (often called net profit before taxes—the remainder after all costs have been subtracted from sales.

A pro forma income statement reflects a marketing manager’s expectations (sales) given criterion inputs (costs). This means that a manager must think specifically about customer response to strategies and tactics and focus attention on the organization’s financial objectives of profitability and growth when preparing a pro forma income statement.

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 Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

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.

Take Risks


  • Think excellence. Great satisfaction comes from doing your best in every activity. Average performance is never good enough.
  • You are being copied by others in everything you do. So, set the kind of examples you want followed.
  • Speaking up is essential to leadership. Express yourself at every opportunity. Conquer fear by speaking up. You need other people to help you achieve your goals. So, win their cooperation.
  • Invest all the praise you receive.
  • Take 100 percent responsibility when things go wrong.
  • Coordinate the knowledge of other people.
  • Have the courage to take risks. Taking risks is as essential to success as breathing is to 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.

Basic Organizational Structures


Although there is an almost infinite variety of structural forms, certain basic types predominate in modern complex organizations. There are three basic organizational structures. The conglomerate structure is a variant of divisional structure and is thus not depicted as a fourth structure. Generally speaking, each structure tends to support some corporate strategies over others.

  • Simple Structure has no functional or product categories and is appropriate for a small, entrepreneur-dominated company with one or two product lines that operates in a reasonably small, easily identifiable market niche. Employees tend to be generalists and jacks of all trades.
  • Functional structure is appropriate for a medium-sized firm with several related product lines in one industry. Employees tend to be specialists in the business functions important to that industry, such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, and human resources.
  • Divisional structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several related industries. Employees tend to be functional specialists organized.
  • Strategic business units (SBU)are a recent modification to the divisional structure. Strategic business units are divisions or groups of divisions composed of independent product-market segments that are given primary responsibility and authority for the management of their own functional areas. An SBU may be of any size or level, but it must have 1) a unique mission, 2) identifiable competitors, 3)an external market focus, and 4) control of its business functions. The idea is to decentralize on the basis of strategic elements rather than on the basis of size, product characteristics, or span of control and to create horizontal linkages among units previously kept separate.
  • Conglomerate structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several unrelated industries. A variant of the divisional structure, the conglomerate structure (sometimes called a holding company) is typically an assemblage of legally independent firms (subsidiaries) operating under one corporate umbrella but controlled through the subsidiaries’ boards of directors. The unrelated nature of the subsidiaries prevents any attempt at gaining synergy among them.

If the current basic structure of corporation does not easily support a strategy under consideration, top management must decide if the proposed strategy is feasible or if the structure should be changed to a more advanced structure.

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.

 

Determining Salary Range


Responsibilities and salary are always related. Once you have drawn up a list of job duties and responsibilities and have written a job description, determining a corresponding salary range should be easy.

Roughly speaking, all jobs can be sorted into three categories:

  1. Nonexempt jobs are those that involve performing prescribed, internal tasks and include little problem solving.
  2. Exempt jobs are those associated with supervising the performance of internal tasks and dealing with problems related to those tasks. These employees do not need to be overpaid overtime for extra hours. A good rule of thumb for determining whether a job is exempt is this: if you miss a day of work and someone else does your work for you during your absence, your job is probably nonexempt. But if you return to work and find your work waiting for you, you’re probably exempt.
  3. Management positions are those involving responsibility for addressing internal and external problems and programs, such as business objectives and challenges.

Avoid the temptation to inflate a job’s title by pasting the management label on a task-based job. People with management skills cost more money in the job market and are harder to hire. Let’s say you decide to speed up your company’s inefficient employee healthcare claims handling process by creating a new position: someone who will collect claim forms and coordinate with your insurance carrier. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are hiring someone to perform a series of tasks, not to address a management problem. Advertise for a clerk or coordinator, not a manager.

Always establish the correct responsibility level and salary range for every opening you advertise. Doing so will provide consistency throughout your department and maintain internal equity in the structuring and compensation of jobs.

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 Characteristics of Diversity


When managers speak of diverse workforces, they typically mean differences in gender and race. While gender and race are important characteristics of diversity, others are also important. We can divide these differences into primary and secondary characteristics of diversity. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, abilities, and sexual orientation represent primary characteristics of diversity which are inborn and cannot be changed. Eight secondary characteristics of diversity—work, background, income, marital status, military enterprise, religious beliefs, geographic location, parental status, and education—which can be changed. We acquire, change, and discard them as we progress through our lives.

Defining characteristics of diversity as either primary or secondary enhances our understanding, but we must remember that each person is defined by the interrelation of all characteristics. In dealing with diversity in the workforce, managers must consider the complete person’s differences.

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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