Focusing on Customers


Without customers you have no sales, no income, no profit, no business—and soon no organization. Unfortunately, when you meet other managers they often seem to forget this, and talk about profits, productivity, return on investment, data ratios and personnel problems. Sometimes customers are clearly an irritant, getting in the way of smooth operations, asking awkward questions and making unreasonable demands.

The purpose of your organization is to supply a product that satisfies customer demand. This should be the focus of the whole organization. To sustain competitive advantage requires a total commitment to your customer. If it is good for your customers, do it! The dollars will follow.

This consideration on customers involves:

  • Finding out exactly what customers want;
  • Designing products to meet these demands;
  • Doing research and development so that your product range responds to changing demands;
  • Aiming for complete customer satisfaction;
  • Getting a reputation for outstanding quality and value;
  • Doing after-sales checks to make sure that customers remain satisfied;
  • Looking outwards so that you are always in touch with customers, potential customers, competitors, alternative products, etc.
  • Allowing customers easy access to your organization and making them welcome;
  • Discussing customer service widely, so that everyone knows your aims, and shares thoughts on customer satisfaction.

Some say that you should go further than merely satisfying customers, and should exceed their expectations – delighting or crossing them. Whatever you call it, you depend on satisfied customers coming back with repeat business. It typically costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one – and someone who gets good service will recommend you to four or five other people, while someone who gets poor service will warn a dozen potential customers to go somewhere else.

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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Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

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.

Circulars and Brochures


There is not much difference between a circular, a flier, and a brochure. Circulars and fliers are the same, and a brochure is longer and more detailed than either. Dictionaries don’t shed much more light on the subject.

There are several ways to distribute circulars and brochures. They may be mailed alone, mailed as part of a mailing package, placed in mailboxes, slipped under doors, slipped under windshield wipers, handed out at street corners, handed out at trade shows, handed out whenever lots of prospects congregate, handed out to prospects and/or customers, placed in the racks that say, “Take One,” placed on counters for general distribution, or dropped from airplanes. If you are going to distribute many of these, make them circulars, because circulars are less expensive per piece. If your plans for disseminating them are relatively limited, you might opt for the more expensive brochures.

The simplest form of one of these printed pieces is a single sheet of paper, printed on one side. Printing on both sides makes matters a tad more complex. Printing on both sides of two of two pieces of paper – each folded in half – makes a booklet that may be called a brochure. Some brochures run as long as twenty-four pages. When planning to produce such materials, remember that when you fold a sheet of paper in two, you have a total of four pages (two on each side). So generally you must think in terms of four-page units. Brochures are ordinarily four or eight or twelve pages. Some brochures have panels that fold rather than pages that turn. Usually, these are six-panel brochures – three panels on each side.

The format isn’t nearly as important as the content. And the content must be factual information, enlivened with a touch of style and romance. Unlike ads, which must flag a person’s attention, a brochure – or circular –already as that attention. So its primary job is to inform with the intention of selling. Most brochures and some circulars, use artwork. Sometimes this is intended to keep the pace interesting. But most of the time, the purpose is to explain, inform and sell.

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

Staying Close to Customers


  • Show them that you think of them. Send or fax helpful newspaper clippings, relevant articles, and greeting and birthday cards. How about sending a card on the anniversary of the day they became your customers?
  • Tell them what’s new. It is a good way to stay in touch and increase sales or get referrals.
  • Offer “valued customer” discounts. These can take the form of coupons, letters, or other sales promotions. This not only garners more orders; it also makes your customers happy to be getting such good deals.
  • Compensate customers for lost time or money if they were caused by problems with your product or service. Use a well thought-out recovery program and stick to it. Better to err on the side of generosity than lose an account out of stinginess!
  • Be personal. Keep notes in your customer files on every little detail you know—everything from spouse and children’s names to hobbies, and especially their behavioral style.
  • Always be honest. Nothing undermines your credibility more severely than dishonesty. Lies have a way of coming back to haunt you.
  • Accept returns unconditionally. The few bucks you might lose in the short run are far less than what you gain from pleasing the customer.
  • Honor your customer’s privacy. If you have been a truly consultative salesperson, you may possess some knowledge that should be kept confidential. Your ethical standards should demand that you keep it that way.
  • Keep your promises. Never, ever promise something that you cannot deliver. This principle applies to little things such as returning phone calls as well as big things like delivery dates. If you must, ‘baby-sit’ deliveries and promised service to see that they are realized. Your reputation is on the line.
  • Give feedback on referrals. This is the right way to show your appreciation for the referral. Tell your customer the outcome. This is also a good way to get more referrals without asking for them directly.
  • Make your customers famous … for 15 minutes. If your enterprise has a newsletter, ask customers for permission to write about their success. Then send a copy to your customer. The same can be done for local newspapers and other publications.
  • Keep lines of communication open. As in any relationship, assure your customers that you are open to all calls about everything and anything – ideas, grievance, advice, praise, questions etc. This is one ay to maintain that all-important rapport.

 Remember that people do business with people they like!

 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

Tall or Flat Organizations


“Tall” organization structures are characterized by more levels of managers and supervisors than are comparably sized organizations having “flat” structures. The spans of authority are narrower in tall structures than a flat ones. From the organization’s point of view, tall structures provide more control and direction than do flat ones; from the employee’s point of view, they are more restrictive and offer fewer opportuities to make decisions and exert initiative. The organizations make it possible for managers to keep in touch with their area and people more closely, because they have fewer subordinates and a narrower area to supervise. Centralized or decentralized structures also influence the degree of freedom the managers and employees have in various organizational divisions.

 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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