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Decisive Entrepreneur

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An overview on one aspect that captures almost all the economic activities include a representation to a change. This clue distinctions of when and where supports all those interested wantings for the future development and innovation, in the activity of the products and the services desired for the necesary market.

You never know where you are going to find a good idea.

That may sound like a saying from a fortune cookie. But for Normal CEO, and founder, Nikki Kaufman, it’s a management style.

It’s also why the headquarters of her 3-D printed custom earphone company are open and transparent across departments. It’s a guiding principle on how to run a team.

I encourage new ideas all the time here at Normal. That’s one of the things that I really like about having everyone in one office.
She included this advices from the floor of her New York City retail location, which also serves as the company’s factory and corporate office along with an incredible pursuatiation for advocating content into the shared markets .
An idea can come from anywhere.”



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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments

Old Business Models

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Every industry is changing

There are no original ideas left. Sure, it’s kind of a cynical thought, but try and brainstorm a completely new concept, whether for a business, an advertising campaign or even a limerick, and you’ll start to think it’s true. It can sometimes be a stretch to come up with anything that hasn’t already been thought of.

It’s the reason someone once famously said there are only three original jokes and all the others have been derived from them. It’s why Hollywood remakes old movies. And the dearth of original ideas is why businesspeople sometimes pay other businesspeople to come up with a new concept for their own products or services.
Fortunately, if you’re an entrepreneur trying to come up with a new business model, you don’t have to be completely unique. For instance, you probably wouldn’t attempt to sell fingernail clippings in a bag, no matter how groundbreaking and unique the idea is. In fact, if you’re starting a business, you probably shouldn’t do something that’s never been done -after all, think of the learning curve your target market will have to tackle. But you would be well advised to take an old idea and make it new. That’s exactly what David Friedberg did. It was around 2001, Friedberg figures, when he was 20 years old and living across the road from a bicycle rental shop.

Every day that it rained, the bike shop was closed. “It became pretty noticeable,” recalls Friedberg, now 26 and already an ex-Google executive and the CEO of his own company, WeatherBill, in San Francisco. After watching the bicycle rental store owner get rained out day after day, Friedberg started noticing how many other companies- think golf courses and car washes- were taking a financial bath whenever it was wet outside.

“You don’t really think about it, but 70 percent of businesses are affected by the weather every year, across regions and industries,”
says Friedman.

“The weather affects so many different types of businesses, whether in negative or in positive ways, like taxi cabs in New York, which are often full in the cold.”
Friedman was a business product manager at Google when he had his “a-ha moment.” It occurred to him that he should start an insurance company- a very old idea- but gear it specifically toward companies that want to protect themselves from losing money on a rainy day -a new idea. It may not sound new. After all, insurance companies generally protect you if you’re hammered by a hurricane, slaughtered by a sandstorm or frozen under the tundra. But we’re talking about the car wash that doesn’t want to lose an entire day of income when there are five inches of rain.
That’s why Friedberg developed, with his “computer science friends,” an elaborate website where anyone can log on and buy a contract to protect themselves from unseasonable weather. The site is completely customizable and automated. A farmer, for instance, could receive money every time the temperature dips below 67 degrees in a particular month. Or if a ski resort has a week and a half of beautiful, balmy weather in January, the owner could automatically receive a check without having to report the weather.

“There is no claims process,”

Friedberg says proudly. Instead his company uses a third-party weather station, EarthStat, that independently confirms data and sends daily reports to WeatherBill, which then processes the checks and sends them out.

Narrowing Your Focus

Despite such success stories, there are risks to developing a new business within an old framework, says Lenann Gardner, an internationally known sales consultant and author of the new book, Got Sales? The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services.

“You have to get people to change their behavior to support this new corporate strategy, and that’s a difficult thing to do. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do, to change human behavior,”
says Gardner.

Narrowing your business’s focus is one way to attract customers to your new take on an old concept.

“Nobody wants to do business with a business that tries to be something for everybody,asserts Gardner.

Granted, tell Wal-Mart that, but she’s right. Stores known for having a little bit of everything thrive because the stakes aren’t too high for customers shopping for soap, cat food or a lawn chair. But as a general rule, the more someone is spending on an item, the more likely they are to seek out a specialized business. Take buying a house, for example. Garry Aloia is an owner and managing partner of My First Home, a business that caters specifically to first-time homebuyers. Aloia, who also co-owns parent company New State Mortgage, came up with the idea when he realized that because agents are driven by commissions,

“human nature takes over. If there’s a bigger commission involved, that customer gets more attention,”
he says.

First-time home buyers-who make up about 40 percent of the home buying market-are often purchasing smaller residences and are likely getting less attention, reasons Aloia. To remedy the situation, Aloia’s My First Home, based in Merrilville, Indiana, near Indianapolis, employs real estate agents who are paid higher salaries-25 percent more than the average agent- but who don’t receive commissions. Aloia doesn’t see his business as a traditional real estate office, but rather as a home-buying educational and assistance center. The office is even set up to look like a home, complete with a fireplace and coffee.
The company offers seminars to first-home buyers, as well as advice and tools to help them figure out what their monthly budget should be after they move in. What Aloia’s business is doing is what all entrepreneurs, whether veteran or novice, ultimately should be doing.

“I try to put my feet in the shoes of the customer,” says Aloia. “I ask myself, ‘How can I make their life better and simpler?’

Modernizing the Wheel
Some business models only need to be slightly tweaked to appeal to the modern consumer. Want to update the traditional dentist office? Put it on wheels. While cleaning teeth is an industry almost as old as, well, teeth, putting an office in a van that can travel anywhere from giant corporate campuses to nursing homes is a much more recent concept. The rise of mobile dentist offices in the last few years shows that catering to people’s busy and complicated lives is a nearly surefire way to improve upon an old concept.
Then there’s the Pearson Ford Fuel Depot in San Diego, which has received a lot of attention for its one-of-a-kind gas station that offers a full range of clean-burning alternative fuels from ethanol to BioWillie, a type of biodiesel made from soybeans and promoted by singer Willie Nelson. Gas stations may be becoming synonymous with global warming, but by offering an alternative, this fueling station has managed to drum up publicity while serving an emerging niche market.
Capitalizing on consumers’ nostalgia is yet another potential approach. In true throwback fashion, State Street Barbers, located in Chicago and Boston, gives modern hair cuts to men in an environment decked out to look like a ritzy salon in the 1920s. Patrons are given a cold beverage when they walk in and can get a hot lather shave with a classic straight razor and hot towels.
In the end, it’s easier to be original and unique in an established industry like home selling or insurance when you have plenty of capital funding behind you; it’s another story if you’re running a fledgling startup in your parents’ basement, and you feel you have to take any client with a pulse and a wallet. But whether you’re a big fish in the ocean or a small one in the pond, the principles are always the same. If you’re going to tweak a formula,

“throw out the way things have been done before,”
advises Friedberg.

Manufacturers wants more to connect with their suppliers, their distributors, and ultimate their customers. In a consumer world there is an app for that, in the government world there is form for that and that is the technology that needs to be closed. Banks knows a lot about the customers and that information is spread to the full wings. The reason why most of the companies are not embracing the future faster, is because they continue to throw their capital to what they worked in the past and that’s what is keeping manufacturers up at night, is how to innovate quickly with agility, and deepen their relationships with their retailers, suppliers and consumers.

Figure out your end goal, and then forget about what all of the other people have done, and come up with a new way.



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The Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practise

Community Cloud

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Technical and fundamental analysis

The efficient market hypothesis suggests that future share prices cannot be predicted by studying past prices and as we have seen, there is extensive evidence to support this view and the right information in collaborating with your partners.

Despite the evidence, investment strategies based on the study of past share prices, or on the analysis of published information such as annual accounts, are common, and the view held by many financial analysts seems to be therefore that capital markets are inefficient.

Technical analysis involves the use of charts (Chartism) and other methods to predict future shares prices and share price trends, clearly implying that a relationship exists between past and future prices. For technical analysis to lead to abnormal returns on a regular basis, capital markets cannot even be weak form efficient.

Fundamental analysis are public information to calculate a fundamental value for a share and then offer investment advice by comparing the fundamental value with the current market price. It is not possible to make abnomal gains from fundamental analysis if capital markets are semi-strong form efficient, since all publicly available information will already be reflected in share prices.

Both technical and fundamental analysis, by seeking abnormal returns, increase the speed with which share prices absorb new information and reach equilibrium, thereby preventing abnomal returns from being achieved.


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Latest Financial Topics for Strategy & Business Developments

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Internal experts and external brought in sessions, that articulate the organisation vision and added insights to new opportunities.

Is your team fully engaged to give their best, day in and day out? In a recent study by TowersWatson, an international HR consulting firm, fewer than 21 percent of employees surveyed described themselves as “highly engaged,” down from 31 percent. 8 percent admitted to being fully disengaged.“
Having only one-fifth of your employees highly engaged is not the hallmark of a “Winning Business.” Other studies show that employee engagement derives from three important factors:

  1. Alignment of the employee with the goals and vision of the company.
  2. Faith of the employee in the competence of management and their commitment to realize the goals and vision.
  3. Trust in their direct supervisor that he or she will support his or her people and help them to succeed.

It has often been said that employees rarely quit companies. Instead, employees quit their managers or supervisors by leaving the company. Mark Herbert, a consultant focused on engagement, says:

“Engagement lives and dies on the front line of your business.”
Increasing positive managerial behavior and reducing negative managerial behavior will go a long way towards improving employee engagement. When your talented employees are engaged, they are able to perform spectacularly and build and improve your winning business. Here are some ways to get managers and supervisors started in focusing on ways to improve engagement (and to be better managers).

1. DON’T get angry

Getting angry is easy. Anyone can do that. But getting angry in the right way in the right amount at the right time, now that is hard.”
Mark Twain

Anger does not belong in your managerial kit bag.

2. DON’T be cold, distant, rude or unfriendly

Especially in difficult times, employees take cues from their immediate supervisors and need to hear from them. As such, your team will judge you by your action, moods, and behaviors, not by your intent.

3. DON’T send mixed messages to your employees so that they never know where you stand

Keep your message simple, focused and prioritized. Too many messages and initiatives just confuse and alienate people.

4. DON’T BS your team

This includes saying things that you don’t believe in. This includes hiding information and just plain lying. By the time each of us is in our early 20′s, we have all developed very well-tuned BS detectors.

5. DON’T act more concerned about your own welfare than anything else
Your success will come through the success of your team. “Self-serving detectors” are also very well-tuned in most employees.

6. DON’T avoid taking responsibility for your actions
You are the boss. As such, you are accountable and the buck stops with you. You are trying to develop accountability throughout your company. So, lead by example.

7. DON’T jump to conclusions without checking your facts first

A few years ago, I watched in horror as a colleague of mine started screaming at an employee of his who had missed an important meeting that morning. After several minutes, the employee responded:

“I apologize and should have contacted you. But, I just got back from the hospital as a relative has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.”

Now here are the dos, which are even more important than the don’ts…

8. DO what you say you are going to do when you are going to do it

There is no better way to communicate the message that you are accountable for your promises and that everyone in your company should be accountable as well.

9. DO be responsive (return phone calls, emails)

As a manager, your team can be considered to be your customer.
You want your sales team to punctually respond back to customer requests, so you should do the same.

10. DO publicly support your people

Your disagreements and disappointment with your employees can be communicated later and in private. Nothing appears so hollow as your attempt to blame your team for failures.

11. DO admit your mistakes …

…and take the blame for failures.

12. DO recognize your team

“You can never underestimate the power of simple recognition for a job well done.”

13. DO ask and listen

“The manager of the future will know how to ask rather than how to tell.”
Peter Drucker

Some of the most dangerous words for a manager to ever say include:

But, you just don’t understand…” “Because I said so…

14. DO smile and laugh

Have some fun. But, be genuine; programmed fun and faked laughter is worse than doing nothing. 
When appropriate, laugh at yourself; it will humanize you.


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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments


 

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Among companies where big data, cloud, mobile, and social technologies are critical parts of the infrastructure, how technologies are, or will soon be? 

Forty-four percent of survey respondents say that mobile is now a critical part of their infrastructure. It’s especially important in some industries—51 percent of the respondents in the utilities and technology sectors indicated that mobile devices and access are critical. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents say that “anywhere access” to corporate apps and data is the biggest benefit to using mobile, followed by increased productivity (53 percent). The two are undoubtedly linked, as mobile access to systems optimizes employee time.

A majority of survey respondents indicate that putting mobile functionality in the hands of employees is now a key requirement, and leading companies are also leveraging the growing ubiquity of smartphones to innovate and drive top-line revenue growth. Management of the Detroit Lions professional football team, for example, is always looking for ways to improve the fan experience. In addition to offering wireless Internet access at Ford Field to Verizon customers and launching a digital raffle for charity on game days, the Lions released a free smartphone application that features exclusive in-stadium game day content, including instant replay from several different camera angles for every play, and concession maps. Eventually, the Lions intend to add other features to the smartphone app, including in-seat concession ordering.

 

“Mobile is a gateway to our fan base,”

says Thomas Horrom, vice president of technology for the Detroit Lions.

 

“Without it, we’re not able to get creative or innovative in our engineered touch points.”

Delta Air Lines is another company that is using mobile technologies to innovate. The airline announced it had begun equipping its 19,000 flight attendants with mobile devices, which have increased incremental revenue from in-flight purchases.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clients receive excellent service every step of the way.

  1.  Put your customer service policy in writing. These principles should come from you, but every employee should know what the rules are and be ready to live up to them. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as “the customer is always right” can lay the necessary groundwork, although you may want to get more detailed by saying, for instance,any employee is empowered to grant a 10 percent discount to any dissatisfied customer at any time.”
  2.  Establish support systems that give employees clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority. These systems will help you outservice any competitor by giving more to customers and anticipating problems before they arise.
  3.  Develop a measurement of superb customer service. Don’t forget to reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company. Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company.
  5. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry. This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.
  6. Share information with people on the front lines.Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service. Solicit ideas from employees-they are the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
  7. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness and competence. They love being treated as individuals and being referred to by name.

 

The efficient market hypothesis suggests that future share prices cannot be predicted by studying past prices and as we have seen, there is extensive evidence to support this view and the right information in collaborating with your partners. Despite the evidence, investment strategies based on the study of past share prices, or on the analysis of published information such as annual accounts, are common, and the view held by many financial analysts seems to be therefore that capital markets are inefficient.

Technical analysis involves the use of charts (Chartism) and other methods to predict future shares prices and share price trends, clearly implying that a relationship exists between past and future prices. For technical analysis to lead to abnormal returns on a regular basis, capital markets cannot even be weak form efficient.

Fundamental analysis are public information to calculate a fundamental value for a share and then offer investment advice by comparing the fundamental value with the current market price. It is not possible to make abnomal gains from fundamental analysis if capital markets are semi-strong form efficient, since all publicly available information will already be reflected in share prices.

Bolster the growing consensus among academics, consultants, and other industry experts that simply spending more on emerging technologies isn’t enough to boost business outcomes. Instead, companies that both identify which core business capabilities they need to differentiate and make a commitment to transform these core business capabilities with the right digital technology will greatly outperform competitors who don’t.

For example, a new study by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee found that firms with a strong vision and mature processes for digital transformation were more profitable on average, had higher revenues, and achieved a bigger market valuation than competitors without a strong vision.  As with any emerging technology, however, there are significant challenges associated with cloud, mobile, social, and big data initiatives.  The survey suggests that the primary risks preventing their wider adoption are data security issues, lack of interoperability with existing IT systems, and lack of control.

However, executives from leading organizations—several of whom were interviewed for this report— are overcoming those hurdles to achieve top-line and customer-facing business benefits. Strategic options involve the options for strategy in terms of both the directions in which strategy might move and the methods by which strategy might be pursued.

For example, an organisation might have to choose between alternative diversification moves, for example entering into new products and markets. As it diversification moves, it has different methods available to it for example, developing a new product itself or acquiring an organisation already active in the area.



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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments

Learning and Flow

 

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Because flow emerges in the zone in which an activity challenges people to the fullest to their capacities, as their skills increase it takes a heightened challenge to get into flow.

If a task is too simple, it is boring; if too challenging, the result is anxiety, rather than flow.

It can be argued that mastery in a craft or skill is spurred on by the experience of flow that the motivation to get better and better at something, be it playing the violin, dancing, or gene spicing, is at least in part to stay in flow while doing it.

“Flow is an internal state that signifies a kid is engaged in a task that’s right.”

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The flow model suggests that achieving mastery of any skill or body of knowledge should ideally happen naturally.

Csikszentmihalyi found that it was those who in their student days had savored the sheer joy, became serious. Whether it be in controlling impulse and putting off gratification, regulating our mood so they facilitate rather than impede thinking, motivating ourselves to persist and try, try again in the face of setbacks, all bespeak the power of emotion to guide effective effort.


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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments

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By the end of the century, a third of the workforce will be “knowledge workers”, or people whose productivity is marked by adding value to information, whether as market analyst, writers, or computer programmers.

Peter Druker, the eminent business maven who coined the term “knowledge worker“, points out that such workers’ expertise is highly specialized, and that their productivity depends on their efforts being coordinated as part of an organisational team: writers are not publishers; computer programmers are not software distributors. While people have always worked in tandem, Druker notes that with knowledge work,

” Teams become the work unit rather than the individual himself.”

Perhaps the most rudimental form of organisational team-work is the meeting, that inescapable part of an executive’s office in a boardroom, on a conference call, in someone’s office.

Meetings bodies in the same room are but the most obvious, and at the somewhat antiquated, example of the sense in which work is shared.

Electronic networks, email, teleconferences, work teams, informal networks and the like are emerging as new functional entities in organisations. To the degree that explicit hierarchy as mapped on an organisational chart is the skeleton of an organisation, these human touch points are its central nervous system.

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The total the talents and skills involved, whatever people come together to collaborate, whether it be in an executive planning meeting or as a team-working toward a shared product, there are in a very real sense on which they have been included in a group of IQ.

In maximizing the excellence of a group’s product, the degree to which the members were able to create a state of internal harmony, lets them take the advantage of the full talent of their members.


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Exploring Corporate Strategy

1. Human resource management and global business strategy

Challenges position, choices and action that should be seen as closely related. In practise none has priority over another, this sequence is not meant to suggest that the process of strategic management must follow a neat and tidy path. Indeed, the evidence on how strategic management happens in practice suggest that it usually does not occur in tidy ways.
Elements of strategic management in linear sequence is characterised first by understanding the strategic position, than strategic choices and finally putting strategy in action. Indeed, many texts on the subject to just this. However, in practise, the elements of strategic management do not follow this linear sequence, they are interlinked and feed back on each other.

The inter-connected circles of the above exhibit are designed to emphasise this non-linear nature of strategy.

Corporate social responsibility is among the top challenges. Companies face when expanding into new markets, especially in developing regions.

Business practices that are acceptable locally are frequently at odds with the values of the company and the laws of its regulatory agencies. This creates a tug-of-war between social responsibility and the need to be successful in those markets, which can turn into significant risk.
Guiding corporate strategic decision-making challenge incorporating the human capital opportunities and risks from operating abroad into corporate strategic decision-making workforce opportunities that are marked both by steady improvements through the political machinations that open trade across borders and enable cross-border migrations, and by sudden and often unexpected changes such as the relaxation in relations between the United States and Cuba; conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine; and dramatic swings in oil prices.
The challenge for companies is to remain nimble to take advantage of the opportunities while avoiding the risks. HR’s challenge is to gather, assess and understand all the cultural, labor and market complexities of operating in each market so that the company can predict opportunities and risks, know when to enter or exit a market, and integrate successfully into new local markets.
The success of a company’s global growth hinges on HR integrating the workforce. HR-led teams need to assess the complexities of bringing together workforces with often dissimilar societal and corporate cultures. HR can, for example, identify potential roadblocks early and plan interventions before problems arise. The food facilities management company Sodexo identified a need for diversity and inclusion across its 355,000 employees from North American to China. It developed training programs that resulted in significant numbers of women, youths, people with disabilities and indigenous workers productively joining its workforce across the globe.

2.Making the business case for CSR

The challenge for HR is to gain a detailed understanding of local environments and their accepted business practices. It then needs to establish protocols that are customized for each region and communicate these protocols throughout the organization and across its supply chain.
When local labor laws or practices conflict with the organization’s CSR policies, HR needs to be the voice of the individual and ensure that the company maintains its integrity, even when this goes against the potential economic value.

HR faces the additional challenge of demonstrating to the company how good CSR policies strengthen the brand, increase customer loyalty and boost shareholder value.

3.Balancing corporate and societal cultures while promoting diversity

Some cultural attributes, such as a command-and-control management style, can be modified to fit local cultures, while others, such as integrity and human rights policies, cannot be compromised. HR needs to understand and deal with the complexities, deciding which corporate culture elements can change and which are essential to protecting the organization’s values and ethics. The company cannot change anti-bribery policies, but it may choose to change its dress-down-Fridays rule.

Management may also choose to impose cultural elements, such as giving back to the community consistently across the global organization. The challenge becomes even more complex when dealing with new workers, those engaged through means such as crowdsourcing, as well as remote and temporary workers.

HR also needs to develop programs to assist executives to adapt when they move from the head office to regions with different societal and cultural norms.



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Excellence Overview

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A case management on collaboration is fixing the problem right at the first time.  So, whats next?

Believe it or not, a full quarter of employees don’t trust their employer, according to a American Association survey of 1,562 U.S. workers. What’s more, the survey also found that only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them.

This lack of trust is likely due to a lack of transparency in the workplace. Transparent leadership is the key to fostering a culture of trust between leaders and their employees. Employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are, understandably, more likely to put their trust in their employer.

By now, most of us have heard a thing or two about how to achieve and sustain transparency in the workplace. Here are four reasons why that transparency and culture of trust is necessary:

 

Better relationships

Employees don’t just quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In fact, CareerBuilder survey revealed that 37 percent of the 3,008 employees surveyed were likely to leave their jobs due to a poor opinion about their boss’s performance.

When it comes to building solid workplace relationships, trust takes center stage. Take Unbounce, for example. It took transparency to another level with its “Inside Unbounce” blog, a staff-authored, un-curated window in the organization. Not only does this demonstrate transparency to potential job seekers, customers, etc., it also keeps employees involved and up to date on company happenings, successes and feedback.

 

Better alignment

Employee alignment, for transparency’s sake, means taking a look at the big picture and seeking to understand everyone’s role within it. This is easily done when employers practice transparency in the workplace. Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals.

Transparency is at the top of HubSpot’s Culture Code. Its internal wiki includes financials (cash balances, burn-rate, profits and losses, etc.), board meeting decks, management meeting decks, “strategic” topics, HubSpot Lore & Mythology — basically anything and everything employees need to stay informed and aligned with the company vision.

 

Better solutions

When leaders are transparent, problems are solved faster. By being open and honest about company problems, employees can help find solutions. And two heads (or however many heads make up the company) are better than one.

Social sharing app Buffer makes company performance public with progress reports on customer support, blog performance, business performance and more. Not only does doing so increase accountability, it also highlights issues and encourages employees to find solutions.

 

Better engagement

A culture that values transparency in the workplace breeds engaged employees. In fact, Harvard Business Review’s employee engagement survey revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed say they’re most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.

When it comes to engaging employees, it’s best to be open about company matters. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner fosters an organization built on transparency. He even takes the time to hold bi-weekly meetings, during which he updates employees on company matters and listens to their suggestions.

What do you think? What are some results you’ve experienced from workplace transparency? Please share in the comments section below.


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Social Trends |Visit News Section On Aspects Of Life And Work|

 


 

New Happenings

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  • Its all about the survival of the those who can adapt. Its a mass of changes.

When you’re a start-up with few employees and few customers, it’s easy to stay on top of what customers want and what they’re getting. But as you add more customers and employees, you add links to the customer service chain.”

That creates the potential for growth and the potential for poor service along the way. That’s why creating a customer service policy and adhering to it is so important. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clients receive excellent service every step of the way.

  1. Put your customer service policy in writing.These principles should come from you, but every employee should know what the rules are and be ready to live up to them. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as “the customer is always right” can lay the necessary groundwork, although you may want to get more detailed by saying, for instance, “any employee is empowered to grant a 10 percent discount to any dissatisfied customer at any time.”
  2. Establish support systems that give employees clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.These systems will help you outservice any competitor by giving more to customers and anticipating problems before they arise.
  3. Develop a measurement of superb customer service.Don’t forget to reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company.Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company.
  5. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.
  6. Share information with people on the front lines.Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service. Solicit ideas from employees-they are the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
  7. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness and competence.They love being treated as individuals and being referred to by name.

 

Phrases That’ll Make Your Customers Happy

Principles of customer service are all very well, but you need to put those principles into action with everything you do and say.

 

There are certain “magic words” customers want to hear from you and your staff. Make sure all your employees understand the importance of these key phrases:

 

  • How can I help?”Customers want the opportunity to explain in detail what they want and need. Too often, business owners feel the desire or the obligation to guess what customers need rather than carefully listening first. By asking how you can help, you begin the dialogue on a positive note (you are “helping,” not “selling”). And by using an open-ended question, you invite discussion.
  • “I can solve that problem.”Most customers, especially business-to-business customers, are looking to buy solutions. They appreciate direct answers in a language they can understand.
  • I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”When confronted with a truly difficult question that requires research on your part, admit that you don’t know the answer. Few things ruin your credibility faster than trying to answer a question when you are unsure of all the facts. Savvy buyers may test you with a question they know you can’t answer and then just sit quietly while you struggle to fake an intelligent reply. An honest answer enhances your integrity.
  • “I will take responsibility.”Tell your customer you realize it’s your responsibility to ensure a satisfactory outcome to the transaction. Assure the customer you know what he or she expects and will deliver the product or service at the agreed-upon price. There will be no unexpected changes or expenses required to solve the problem.
  • “I will keep you updated.”Even if your business is a cash-and-carry operation, it probably requires scheduling and coordinating numerous events. Assure your customers they will be advised of the status of these events. The longer your lead time, the more important this is. The vendors customers trust the most are those that keep them apprised of the situation, whether the news is good or bad.
  • I will deliver on time.”A due date that has been agreed upon is a promise that must be kept. “Close” doesn’t count.
  • Monday means Monday.”The first week in July means the first week in July, even though it contains a national holiday. Your clients are waiting to hear you say “I deliver on time.” The supplier who consistently does so is a rarity and will be remembered.
  • It’ll be just what you ordered.”It will not be “similar to,” and it will not be “better than” what was ordered. It will be exactly what was ordered. Even if you believe a substitute would be in the client’s best interests, that’s a topic for discussion, not something you decide on your own. Your customer may not know (or be at liberty to explain) all the ramifications of the purchase.
  • The job will be complete.”Assure the customer there will be no waiting for a final piece or a last document. Never say you are finished “except for….”
  • “I appreciate your business.“This means more than a simple “Thanks for the order.” Genuine appreciation involves follow-up calls, offering to answer questions, making sure everything is performing satisfactorily, and ascertaining that the original problem has been solved.

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Neglecting any of these steps conveys the impression that you were interested in the person only until the sale was made. This leaves the buyer feeling deceived and used, and creates ill will and negative advertising for your company. Sincerely proving you care about your customers leads to recommendations and repeat sales.

 

Never Let Your Customers Forget You


One important tool for generating repeat business is following up. Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sale when you call the customer to say “thank you” and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service. Beyond this, there are several effective ways to follow up that ensure your business is always in the customer’s mind.

  • Let customers know what you are doing for them. This can be in the form of a newsletter mailed to existing customers, or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whatever method you use, the key is to dramatically point out to customers the excellent service you are giving them. If you never mention all the things you are doing for them, customers may not notice. You aren’t being cocky when you talk to customers about all the work you have done to please them. Just make a phone call and let them know they don’t have to worry because you handled the paperwork, called the attorney or double-checked on the shipment-one less thing they have to do.
  • Write old customers personal, handwritten notes frequently.“I was just sitting at my desk and your name popped into my head. Are you still having a great time flying all over the country? Let me know if you need another set of luggage. I can stop by with our latest models any time.” Or if you run into an old customer at an event, follow up with a note: “It was great seeing you at the CDC Christmas party. I’ll call you early in the New Year to schedule a lunch.”
  • Keep it personal.Voice mail and e-mail make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is often lost. If you’re having trouble getting through to someone whose problem requires that personal touch, leave a voice-mail message that you want to talk to the person directly or will stop by his or her office at a designated time.
  • Remember special occasions.Send regular customers birthday cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards…you name it. Gifts are excellent follow-up tools, too. You don’t have to spend a fortune to show you care; use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business, the customer’s business or his or her recent purchase.
  • Pass on information.If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know.
  • Consider follow-up calls as business development calls.When you talk to or visit old clients or customers, you’ll often find they have referrals to give you, which can lead to new business.

With all your existing customers can do for you, there’s simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them. Use your imagination, and you’ll think of plenty of other ideas that can help you develop a lasting relationship.

 

Dealing With Unsatisfied Customers

Studies show that the vast majority of unsatisfied customers will never come right out and tell you they’re unsatisfied. They simply leave quietly, later telling everyone they know not to do business with you. So when a customer complains, don’t think of it as a nuisance-think of it as a golden opportunity to change that customer’s mind and retain his or her business.

Even the best product or service receives complaints now and then. Here’s how to handle them for positive results:

 

  • Let customers vent their feelings. Encourage them to get their frustrations out in the open.
  • Never argue with a customer.
  • Never tell a customer “You do not have a problem.” Those are fighting words.
  • Share your point of view as politely as you can.
  • Take responsibility for the problem. Don’t make excuses. If an employee was sick or a supplier let you down, that’s not the customer’s concern.
  • Immediately take action to remedy the situation. Promising a solution and then delaying it only makes matters worse.
  • Empower your front-line employees to be flexible in resolving complaints. Give employees some leeway in deciding when to bend the rules. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, make sure they have you or another manager handle the situation.

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