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.

Meanings of Meaning


Meanings are internal responses people hold for external stimuli. Many times people have different meanings for the same words. Good communicators are people who select verbal and nonverbal signs that they feel will elicit the intending meaning. Marketing communicators must be especially careful to use signs that will evoke the intended meaning in prospective buyers. All too often companies communicate their product offerings in terms familiar to themselves but not in terms familiar to their potential customers.

Meaning can be thought of as the set of internal responses and resulting predispositions evoked within a person when presented with a sign or stimulus object. Meaning is internal rather than external, to an individual. Meaning is psychological in that it represents a person’s subjective perception and effective reaction to stimuli.

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.

Tacit Knowledge, Explicit Knowledge


One way to describe tacit knowledge is in terms of intuition. Tacit knowledge is personal, intuitive knowledge, whereas explicit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that can be learned from a book. There is a vast difference between book learning—explicit knowledge—and experience-based learning—tacit knowledge.

Intuition is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “the immediate knowing of something without the conscious use of reasoning.” There are times when we know something to be true but we do not know why or how we arrived at the understanding. One form of intuition arises because we know something so well and so thoroughly that we do not have to reason things out again but we immediately know it. This is tacit knowledge, as opposed to explicit knowledge, which is “formal and systematic.” Tacit knowledge is “deeply rooted in an individual’s action and experience.” It is intuitive and subjective whereas explicit knowledge is scientific and objective.

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 Personal Touch


  • People like to buy from people
  • You build a business one customer at a time, one purchase at a time
  • Use the customer’s name in all written communication
  • Courtesy, manners and politeness are keys to building trust, respect and loyalty
  • Use names regularly in conversation
  • Accommodate the customers special requests wherever possible (impossible is a subjective statement)
  • The first sale you make is yourself
  • Rapport is a skill that can be learnt
  • No-verbal communication is the most important and quickest route to reaching people
  • Get to know your customers—all of them
  • One hundred percent attention at all times
  • Make every customer feel like your most special customer (not your only customer)

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.

Opportunity Analysis


Opportunity analysis consists of three interrelated activities:

  • Opportunity identification
  • Opportunity-organization matching
  • Opportunity evaluation

Opportunity arise from identifying new types or classes of buyers, uncovering unsatisfied needs of buyers, or creating new ways or means for satisfying buyer needs. Opportunity analysis focus on finding markets that an organization can profitably serve.

Opportunity-organization matching determines whether an identified market opportunity is consistent with the definition of the organization’s business, mission statement, and distinctive competencies. This determination usually involves an assessment of organization’s strengths and weaknesses and an identification of the success requirements for operating profitably in a market. A SWOT analysis is often employed to assess the match between identified market opportunities and the organization.

For some companies, market opportunities that promise sizable sales and profit gains are not pursued because they do not conform to an organization’s character.

Opportunity evaluation typically has two distinct phases—qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative phase focuses on matching the attractiveness of an opportunity with the potential for uncovering a market niche. Attractiveness is dependent on 1) competitive activity; 2) buyer requirements; 3) market demand and supplier sources; 4) social, political, economic, and technological forces; and 5) organizational capabilities. Each of these factors in turn must be tied to its impact on the types of buyers sought, the needs of buyers, and the means for satisfying these needs.

Opportunity identification, matching, and evaluation are challenging assignment because subjective factors play a larger role and managerial insight and foresight are necessary. These activities are even more difficult in the global arena, where social and political forces and uncertainties related to organizational capabilities in unfamiliar economic environments assume a significant role.

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.

Characteristics of Analysis


Analysis uses scientific methodology: a systematic, rational, critical appraisal of the phenomenon under investigation based on emperical facts. Analysis in the social sciences is different in some respects from analysis in the natural sciences, which take a much narrower view of what can be measured and known. However, the basic motivation—to understand and to establish control over the environment—is the same, as are the essential methods. The distinction between analysis in the natural and social sciences lies in the kinds of questions explored.

The intellectual activities of analysis are directed toward practice issues and practical application. Assessment of the data and the search for relevant research and theoratical constructs are part of a progression toward action. The goal is to enable the change agent to make informed choices.

In addition, analysis is carried out within a social context and involves subjective judgments, preferences, and values. Naturality and disinterested inquiry are not characteristics of social science analysis. Ideologies, beliefs, and assumptions affect both the perception and the interpretation of imperical data.

The purpose of analysis in the planned change process is to facilitate decision-making. Analysis clarifies the nature and dynamics of the change opportunity and the relevance of possible responses. However, it is not realistic to expect analysis to provide “the answer.”

Different planners can assess the same situation and produce quite different analyses insofar as each shapes the problem in terms of his background, training, experience, and values. The reality of competing views of human service conditions, problems, needs, issues, and change opportunities in no way lessens the importance of analysis.

Analysis, then, may be expected to clarify options, trace implications, and provide grounding for judgments. Useful analysis will be critical, thorough, and systematic and will be oriented toward practical application.

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

Strategic Decisions


There are three central characteristics of strategic decision making:

  1. Strategic decisions that affect the very survival of the firm;
  2. The effects of a decision last a long time, perhaps five to ten years;
  3. The long range effects of a decision are very hard to forecast.

Actually, the first characteristic is really the definition of a strategic decision. The other two characteristics follow from it. If we could correct a bad decision of any size within a year or two, then it would be less likely to harm the firm permanently. And it should be clear that any decision whose effects last for many years will be extremely difficult to forecast.

Difficulties of long-range forecasting include:

  1. Long-range forecasts are usually ill-structured; that is, it is impossible to make a really good mathematical model of what is being forecasted.
  2. Forecasting accuracy drops off rapidly as one looks further into the future. This is essentially because unforeseeable change accumulate as we peer further and further ahead.
  3. Forecasts need to mix subjective and objective information, since different kinds of information are being captured.
  4. The longer the horizon, the less objective information is available, the worse models will be, and the more we must rely on subjective forecasts.

Given that huge financial stakes are involved and that strategic decisions have a long horizon with poor forecasts available, it is hardly surprising that most Operations Management texts do not delve deeply into this problem. Many methods which are in practical use are not deeply quantitive, and are, in any event, difficult to describe and justify. Nevertheless, manufacturing executives do not have the luxury of ignoring strategic decision making and must be careful consumers of the best available methods.

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

Using Judgmental Forecasts


Judgmental forecasts are based on subjective views – often the options of experts in the field. Suppose a company is about to market an entirely a new product, or the board is looking at plans for 25 years in the future. They won’t have any relevant historical data for a quantative forecast. Sometimes there is a complete absence of data, and at other times the data is unreliable or irrelevant to the future.

 Quantative forecasts are always more reliable, but when you don’t have the necessary data, you have to use a judgmental method. There are five widely used methods:

  • Personal insight. This uses a single person who is familiar with the situation to produce a forecast based on his or her own judgment. This is the most widely used forecasting method – but is unreliable and often gives very bad results.
  • Panel consensus. This collects together a group of experts to make a forecast. If there is no secrecy and the panel talk freely and openly, you can find a genuine consensus. On the other hand, there may be difficulties in combining the views of different people.
  • Market surveys. Sometimes even groups of experts don’t have enough knowledge to give a reasonable forecast about, for example, the launch of a new product. Then market surveys collect data from a sample of potential customers, analyze their views and make inferences about the population at large.
  • Historical analogy. If you are introducing a new product, you might have a similar product that you launched recently, and assume that demand for the new product will follow the same pattern. If a publisher is selling a new book, it can forecast the likely demand from the actual demand for a similar book it published earlier.
  • Delphi method. For this you contact a number of experts by post and give each a questionnaire to complete. Then you analyze the replies from the questionnaires and send summaries back to the experts. You ask them if they would like to reconsider their original replay in the light of summarized replies from others. This is repeated several times – usually between three and six – until the range of options is narrow enough to help with decisions.

 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

Entrepreneurial Success


Successful entrepreneuring is not and never has been reducible to a set of formulas or rules. Without exception, the experience is a profoundly personal process. Entrepreneurial success begins with a single individual’s intense commitment to customers, and it involves according to that person’s distinctive capabilities and temperament. The Ted Turners and Fred Smiths of this world don’t just build companies, they shape them in original, subjective, and sometimes peculiar ways.

No matter how many business courses you take or how many business books you read, you can never plan success. Fortunately, you can invite it. It comes to those who are deeply and personally engaged in the process of following a vision of what they and their enterprises can becom. Successful ideas, innovations, and new directions reveal themselves a bit at a time. They are discovered in the process of “doing,” of living out an emerging vision. Successful companies evolve, as do the people who dream them.

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

Judgmental Forecasts


Judgmental forecasts are based on subjective views — often the opinions of experts in the field.  Sometimes there is a complete absence of data, and at other times the data is unreliable or irrelevant to the future.

Quantitative forecasts are always more reliable, but when you don’t have the necessary data, you have to use a judgmental method. There are five widely used methods.

Personal insight. This uses a single person who is familiar with the situation to produce a forecast based on his/her own judgment. This is the most widely used forecasting method  — but is unreliable abd often gives very bad results.

Panel Consensus. This collects together a group of experta to mak experts to make a fore cast. If there is no secrecy  and the panel talk talk freely and openly, you can find a genuine consensus. On the other hand, there may be difficulties in combining  the views of different people.

Market surveys. Sometimes even groups of experts don’t have enough knowledge to give a reasonable forecast about, for example, the launch of a new product. Then market surveys collect data from a sample of potential customers, analyse their views and make inferences about the population at large.

Historical analogy. If you are introducing a new product, you might have a similar product that you launched recently, and assume that demand for the new product will follow the same pattern. If a publisher is selling a new book, it can forecast the likely demand from the actual demand for a similar book it published earlier.

Delphi method. For this you contact a number of experts by post and give each a questionnaire to complete. Then you analyze the replies from the questionnaire to complete. Then you analyze the replies from the questionnaires and send the summaries back to experts. You ask them if they would like to reconsider their original reply in the light of the summarized replies from others. This is repeated several times — usually between three and six — until the range of opinions is narrow enough to help with decisions.

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 Asif J. Mir.