- Is it acceptable for our manager to raise her voice all the time when she’s talking about issues that are important to her at work?
Some people are passionate about what they believe in or about the vision that they would like to reach. Sometimes, this passion can be overwhelming to others on the receiving end. The problem with raising one’s voice during meetings, for example, is that people stop listening to the content of the manager’s speech because they are too annoyed by the loudness of the voice and intensity of the tone. What managers need to keep in mind is that when employees feel disturbed and uncomfortable by raised voices, regardless of the truthfulness of their message, they won’t successfully bring their point across. When an extremely loud horn or noise is blowing next to people, they cover their ears and that’s human nature.
There are better ways for managers to get the attention of their employees. For example, if your sales team needs a push to achieve the current quarter’s targets, consider using drama and tragedy to illustrate the impact on the employees themselves if they do not close the gap. Address with each employee separately what he or she might have to let go of in their own personal lives when they lose their bonuses to help them to visualize the size of the problem and be motivated to work harder. However, if the team was productivity challenged, give employees the freedom to work on one project with the same poor production level as long as they deliver on time and with the right standards. They might surprise you or learn their lesson. Either way, yelling doesn’t work…and that’s just my two cents.
- It’s easy to talk about being customer focused on our website and in meetings and press releases, but can we actually translate this philosophy into practical actions?
John Tschohl once wrote, “The goal of any service strategy should be to systematize — to institutionalize — a customer service program that’s well established, for the long term, in the culture of the company.” If you are a retailer, for example, review your return and exchange policy. See if it is with or against your customers’ benefits and shopping experience. Let’s say you were a shipping company. When you examine your internal processes you can spot areas that may delay customers’ orders from being sent or received on time. For a telecom company, for example, having a clear emergency plan if a network tower got damaged means that customers in that zone won’t have to suffer poor coverage for a long time; and that shows your ability to think ahead of customers’ welfare.
Being customer focused is not a myth. It’s a tangible series of actions and decisions set to reach a balance between customers’ needs and wants and that of the shareholders’. Notice that I didn’t describe it as a balance between customers’ retention and profitability; that’s because taking care of customers and generating profits are not two areas opposite to each other, but rather deeply connected to each other. Winning half the battle of implementing a successful customer experience strategy depends mainly on the shareholders’ understanding of where profit comes from. Yet, with your best intentions to mold the business around customers, you could still miss the target, if your new workflow is based on what you think is best for customers and not what they know is best for them…and that’s just my two cents.
- Is there a trick to help us see our brand position in the market without conducting a costly full-fledged research program?
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but who’s the beholder? If it’s the brand management team or the owners of the business, then the assessment is not as objective as it could be when customers are the ones who are observing the brand. Customers usually are the best people to tell you who you are. You might think you are the best, smartest, coolest brand in your industry, but your customers might see you as nothing more than a commodity. The one-sided perception of the management team of their own brand is like how most mothers can’t see the dark doings of their own children. So, from time to time, you need the input from other partners – that’s employees, customers, suppliers, the media, and so on.
Having said that, a quick exercise you can do with your team is to ask yourselves and random members from your partners circle this simple questions: If our brand was a car (assuming you’re not in the automotive business), what kind would it be and why? Or if our brand was a hotel (again, that’s if you’re not one already), which one would it be and in what city or town, and why? By asking stakeholders to describe your brand using this form of analogy you can get a more genuine description and a more vivid visual of how others truly feel about your brand. In some cases, this exercise will be just the right prescription to give you that wakeup call. Warning, you might not always like the answer, but you should always be ready to do something about it…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected] Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.