Putting prof­its over peo­ple may put you out of busi­ness

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ya­neek Page is an en­trepreneur and trainer, and creator/ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of The In­no­va­tors TV se­ries. Email: info@ya­neek­page.com Twit­ter: @ya­neek­page Web­site: www.ya­neek­page.com Cedric E. Stephens pro­vides in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice about the m

HOW CAN a busi­ness be con­tent earn­ing prof­its from cus­tomers who are in­ces­santly un­happy do­ing busi­ness with them?

It’s a ques­tion frus­trated con­sumers, my­self in­cluded, grap­ple with al­most ev­ery day in this coun­try when do­ing busi­ness with en­ti­ties that care less about them and more about their com­pany’s fi­nan­cial per­for­mance.

To add in­sult to in­jury, some of these com­pa­nies in­vest heav­ily in pro­mot­ing an im­age of them­selves that is far re­moved from the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ences or ser­vice they pro­vide, while spend­ing very lit­tle on lis­ten­ing and re­spond­ing ap­pro­pri­ately to cus­tomers who are at their wits end in deal­ing with them.

Busi­nesses are typ­i­cally con­tent prof­it­ing from dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers be­cause of one or more of the rea­sons below:

1. They op­er­ate in an oli­gop­oly where con­sumers have lim­ited choice;

2. They main­tain a dom­i­nant mar­ket po­si­tion and are com­pla­cent or ar­ro­gant;

3. They are man­aged by poor lead­ers who are short-sighted and/or bad-tem­pered.

Re­cently, a col­league shared a photo of her­self on so­cial me­dia, teary-eyed, sit­ting in her car in the park­ing lot of a com­pany with which she does busi­ness. She was at break­ing point be­cause of con­stant ser­vice in­ter­rup­tions she says were crip­pling her busi­ness, and de­spite nu­mer­ous com­plaints she wasn’t able to re­solve the is­sue.

Just weeks be­fore, she had aban­doned her new com­pany’s ma­jor com­peti­tor for the very same rea­son. She had jumped from the fry­ing pan into the fire and felt hope­less.

The en­trepreneurs I ad­mire lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally have one very im­por­tant thing in com­mon: their mo­ti­va­tion for and phi­los­o­phy on start­ing a busi­ness.

They are not driven by a strong de­sire to be rich, but are in­stead mo­ti­vated by a passion to de­liver ex­cep­tional prod­ucts or ser­vices that can en­hance the lives of their cus­tomers. Their strat­egy for suc­cess is en­sur­ing that their busi­ness model is built on con­sis­tently cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing happy, sat­is­fied cus­tomers, which be­comes a key pil­lar for value, com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and prof­itabil­ity.

Un­for­tu­nately, too many busi­nesses op­er­ate in a con­trary man­ner, mea­sur­ing suc­cess solely by how much profit they can earn and how well com­pen­sated their top man­age­ment is de­spite how mis­er­able their cus­tomers may be.

Even more dis­tress­ing is that some com­pa­nies con­tinue to get away with it be­cause of lim­ited com­pe­ti­tion or mar­ket fail­ure.

Mi­cro, small and medium sized-busi­nesses (MSMEs) must avoid the cul­ture of putting prof­its over peo­ple if they want to en­joy sus­tain­abil­ity, prof­itabil­ity and build a strong brand.

CUS­TOMER CENTRICITY

The pri­mary way to achieve this is to con­struct, im­ple­ment and stay faith­ful to a cus­tomer cen­tred busi­ness model that puts the needs, ex­pe­ri­ence and sat­is­fac­tion of the cus­tomer at the epi­cen­tre of their op­er­a­tions.

A crit­i­cal pre­req­ui­site for this is to adopt as one of its core val­ues ‘cus­tomer centricity’. Con­struct­ing a cus­tomer cen­tric model will in­volve re­search­ing var­i­ous ap­proaches and best prac­tices to achieve what is termed ‘the cus­tomer cen­tric trans­for­ma­tion’.

There is sub­stan­tial lit­er­a­ture on this topic as it is now seen as the most pro­gres­sive ap­proach to busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive, glob­alised en­vi­ron­ment. For ex­am­ple, most ap­proaches call for com­pre­hen­sive change to vi­sion and goal set­ting, lead­er­ship and ac­count­abil­ity, re­source re­quire­ments, pro­cesses and tools, tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­ture and align­ment, learn­ing and knowl­edge man­age­ment, among many oth­ers.

In sim­ple terms, for many busi­nesses this will in­volve a com­plete reimag­ing and reengi­neer­ing of their op­er­a­tions. From the de­sign of the goods and ser­vices to be pro­vided, to the de­liv­ery and dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels, en­gage­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with cus­tomers, in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sales, cus­tomer ser­vice and af­ter sale sup­port and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

It is an it­er­a­tive process that must con­stantly be mea­sured, re­viewed, an­a­lysed and im­proved.

As the year draws to a close, this may be the ideal time for MSMEs to un­der­take a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of their op­er­a­tions and de­vise a strate­gic plan to be­come cus­tomer cen­tric.

How­ever, it must be noted that for many MSMEs the ex­per­tise re­quired to lead such a dras­tic but nec­es­sary ini­tia­tive does not re­side in-house. There­fore there will need to be make an in­vest in hir­ing the ser­vices of a com­pe­tent ex­pert who, for ex­am­ple, spe­cialises in cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence man­age­ment, process re­view and de­sign, etc, and can guide them through the process.

In my view, it’s one of the best in­vest­ments a com­pany can make.

One love!

Itext or send emails. Driver mode could be en­gaged au­to­mat­i­cally by pair­ing with a ve­hi­cle’s in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, or would need to be turned on man­u­ally. Fed­eral reg­u­la­tors say that by im­ple­ment­ing these changes, de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers can help re­duce auto ac­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties due to dis­tracted driv­ing.

While most states have banned hand-held phone use while driv­ing, most of these laws are dif­fi­cult to en­force. Re­searchers and safety ad­vo­cates have long been call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to re­quire the auto in­dus­try to in­clude tech­nol­ogy in their ve­hi­cles that would ren­der smart­phones in­op­er­a­ble.

Was the per­son who hit your car us­ing her cell phone at the time of the col­li­sion?

II

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