Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

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.

The Lacking Commitment


Why do so many senior people appear hesitant and half-hearted? Why are the communications concerning change programs so anemic, especially when coming from those who have little difficulty in putting their points across in other contexts?

We have to get at the roots of ambivalence. The reasons for concern, quiet dissent, and reluctance to commit need to be probed:

  • Apparent support may only mean that those concerned are crawlers, bootlickers and toadies. There is often reluctance to accept the reality that all manner of loathsome and self-serving creatures inhabit the corridors of corporate bureaucracy. Their wiles, and the games they play, which are so transparent to outsiders, and destructive of external relationships built upon mutual trust and respect, go unnoticed or are ignored within.
  • Those who appear difficult may be the individuals with intellectual reservations. These could relate to the application of a program in a particular area, or to an initiative as a whole. The objectors could be the ones who have thought it through and uncovered missing elements. An implementation process needs to incorporate a means of listening to, and learning from, those who have valid objections.
  • Also, not all customers have the same preferences. What is added value for one person may be regarded as an expensive luxury by other.

Bland ‘motherhood’ statements suggest people have not thought through what needs to be done. People judge by what they see rather than on the basis of what is said. The informal messages, the examples and the symbols, can undercut formal communications.

Too often the changes of attitudes that are sought are not reflected in the language used by managers, the anecdotes and war stories that make up the mythology of a company, in symbols such as the allocation of parking spaces or use of exercise facilities, and in how a myriad of day-to-day matters are handled. Changing structures and processes may not be followed by attitudes where managers themselves, and particularly senior managers, refuse to act as role models.

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.

Talk Less, Listen More


The more talking you do, the less information you will receive. Your role is that of a buyer. You are thinking about purchasing services from the person you’re interviewing. Asking questions and evaluating the responses are your key functions. Picture yourself at a car dealership, talking to a salesperson about the possible purchase of a car. Who should be doing most of the talking? Who should be answering the most questions? In both cases the answer is the person selling, not the person buying. The person asking the questions gets the most information.

Your questions should seek information on specific issues and also let you uncover personality traits. Listen for comments that include attitudes, energy levels, and the ability to communicate concisely and to answer the question asked, not the one the interviewee wants to answer. None of this can be accomplished when you are doing the majority of the talking.

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.

Knowledge Entrepreneurs


There depends a lot on the energy and imagination of knowledge entrepreneurs. They need to identify specific opportunities being created by the greater availability and accessibility of information and knowledge, and craft distinctive information and knowledge-based products and services.

All entrepreneurs have to identify opportunities to add value by meeting requirements that are not being addressed, and they must be focused and tenacious and possess a clear sense of direction. Most entrepreneurs need also to be tough, pragmatic and resilient. In addition, knowledge entrepreneurs need the following qualities:

  • They must know how to acquire, develop, share, manage, exploit and capitalize on information, knowledge and understanding, and be able to help and enable others to use and apply them effectively. This may require combinations of emerging technologies to connect relevant people and organizations together, and competencies to network with others, work and learn in new ways in order to create value, lead and manage virtual teams, and establish and manage knowledge businesses.
  • They need curiousity and drive to undertake intelligent searches and to be able to judge or determine the significance, relevance and value of what they uncover. Many more people can access information than assess it or use it effectively. Understanding where information has come from, the underlying assumptions and how it has been compiled can prevent an enterprise or a course of action from being built upon foundations of sand.
  • They require enough understanding of systems to be able to use an appropriate range of technologies to identify and access relevant sources of information, knowledge and understanding. However, technical expertise is unlikely to be enough. Communication and relationship-building skills are also required to interact with information providers and bring together the combination of experience and knowledge needed to assemble a package that has market value.

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

Information and Knowledge Entrepreneurs


People should be proactive in assessing, developing and applying their personal knowledge and experience and thinking through the implications of the information and knowledge society. Assessing its  impact upon others may enable business opportunities to be identified.

Much depends on the energy and imagination of information and knowledge entrepreneurs. They need to identify specific opportunities being created by the greater availability and accessibility of information and knowledge, and craft distinctive i and knowledge based products and services.

All entrepreneurs have to identify opportunities to add value by meeting requirements that are not being addressed, and they must be focused and tenacious and possess a clear sense of direction. Most entrepreneurs need also to be tough, pragmatic and resilient. Additionally, information and knowledge entrepreneurs need the following qualities:

  1. They must know how to acquire, develop, share, manage, exploit and capitalize on information, knowledge and understanding, and be able to help and enable others to use and apply them effectively. This may require combinations of emerging technologies to connect relevant people and organizations together, and the competencies to network with others, work and learn in new ways in order to create value, lead and manage virtual teams, and establish and manage knowledge businesses.
  2. They need curiosity and drive to undertake intelligent searches and to be able to judge or determine the significance, relevance and value of what they uncover. Many more people can access information than assess it or use it effectively. Understanding where information has come from, the underlying assumptions and how it has been compiled can prevent an enterprise or a course of action from being built upon foundations of sand.
  3. They require enough understanding of systems to be able to use an appropriate range of technologies to identify and assess relevant sources of information, knowledge and understanding. However, technical expertise is unlikely to be enough. Communication and relationship building skills are also required to interact with information providers and bring together the combination of experience and knowledge needed to assemble a package that has market value.

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.