Meeting Customer Expectations

 

 

Meeting your customers’ expectations
In many ways, developments in e-commerce are setting the standards for the rest of the business world to follow. Nowhere is this truer than in the area of customer relations.
Advantages
Doing business online has a number of advantages for customers and clients:
– A personalised environment over which they have a high degree of control
– Easy access to detailed product/service information
– The space to ‘browse’ at their leisure, free from the intrusions of predatory sales staff
– Extended choice and the ability to personalise products and services
– Fast and efficient transactions
– Increasingly sophisticated after sales support services
As customers and clients grow used to these benefits, they are coming to expect them across the board – even in more conventional business settings such as the shop and the office. Today’s customers and clients demand more recognition, more choice, and more control over the purchasing process.
Customer driven strategies
Businesses that want to survive in the new in difficult times must develop customer driven rather than product or service driven strategies:
– Products and services must be designed to meet the specific needs of the customer/client
– Impersonal, mass marketing must give way to ‘permission marketing,’ in which the prospect has a say in what information he or she receives
– Traditional, predatory sales techniques must be replaced by ‘consultative selling,’ in which the customer is treated more as a partner than as prey
These trends are set to continue throughout what has been dubbed the ‘Customer century’. Businesses will ignore them at their peril.
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Time management

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Optimising your work time begins with identifying the causes of wasted time and learning to avoid them. Here are some suggestions:
Procrastination
– Indecision, or not making a decision at all, is perhaps the biggest cause of ‘inactive’ time.
Imprecise objectives
– Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve at the start of the day is the best safeguard against directionless ‘drift’.
Interruptions
– Minimise distractions that affect your productivity – especially unnecessary telephone calls or personal visitors.
Over-ambitious targets
– Avoid setting yourself goals that are too ambitious, or giving yourself too little time in which to complete your goals.
Prioritising tasks
– Use the urgent/important matrix to prioritise your tasks. Start with those that are both urgent and important and then proceed to those that are important but not urgent. Avoid altogether those that are neither urgent nor important!
Delegation
– Delegation is a key benchmark in effective management. If one of your staff can do a job 80% as well as you can, delegate it. Be sure to communicate fully the elements of the task so that you do not end up having to do it all over again!
Meetings
– Rambling discussions without clear objectives waste a lot of time and effort in meetings. Devise a clear plan and a realistic but economical schedule for each meeting. Avoid meetings where your presence is not essential.
Clear desk policy
– Many time management experts argue that the most effective people work from clear desks. When something lands on your desk you have three options: action it, file it, or bin it!
Just say ‘No’
– When colleagues ask for your help if you think that obliging them will harm your own productivity find a polite way to decline.
Respect for time
– Showing respect for how others organise their work time helps staff maximise their productivity and not feel distracted.
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Brand Awareness

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Brand building can be a powerful growth strategy for businesses of any size – large, medium, or small. The key is to understand what it is you do best and to use brand awareness to communicate that message repeatedly across your target market.

Benefits

The time and resources spent building brand awareness can be very rewarding. It can help to:

Position your product or service in the marketplace

Differentiate your product or service from those of your competitors

Create positive associations in the minds of potential customers/clients

Gradually reduce marketing expenditure

Ultimately increase revenue

Distinguishing mark

When you brand a product or a service, you use a name and/or mark to distinguish it from those of your competitors.

Thus, the first principle of branding is that your brand name and/or mark, whether it is a word, a phrase, a letter, a symbol, or even a sound, should be:

Uncomplicated

Distinctive

Easy to recognise

Easy to remember

Marketing message

The brand also has to carry a message into the marketplace. Its full function is not just to distinguish your product or service from those of your competitors, but also to convey its superiority.

What is it about your product or service that is special, or even unique? Why should a potential customer or client choose you rather than one of your competitors? What is the target market or market segment for your product or service? What need does your product or service meet? What benefits will the purchaser experience? What statement are they making to others by using your product or service?

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Business Planning and Strategy

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Now I know this should be a given, but I still find it amazing to find so many businesses who don’t find the time to invest in proper business planning and strategy. Time spent here getting it right, will give a clear track to run on going forward and make life so much easier.
Any business, whether it is just starting out or is considering the next stage in its development, will need a business plan.
A business plan serves several important purposes.
Perhaps the most obvious is to help raise funding. A business plan is the document that banks or investors will use to judge whether an idea or a business is viable and whether to lend money to or invest in the enterprise.
However, a well thought out business plan has advantages besides persuading others to give their support. It can, for example, identify and anticipate possible business problems; it can introduce a realistic perspective to a project; it can provide an enterprise with a coherent financial structure; it can add definition to a strategy; and it can be used to gauge the progress that a business is making.
Although it should be as strong on detail as space will allow, a good business plan should also be flexible. That is, it should be open to amendments and shifts in emphasis as circumstances change, and the plan reshaped to accommodate them.
A business plan, therefore, is less a blueprint than a map by which a business charts its successes or setbacks.

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