The difference lies in the scope and degree with which businesses define these parameters. For example, an electronics retail store may not have a separate employee to take care of customer grievances. However, a customer oriented company will assign a separate customer care cell to deal with customer grievances.
With time, the definition of growth has expanded. Apart from the conventional objectives of higher sales and profitability, the key to growth now includes customer orientation, brand loyalty, adaptation, speed and accuracy in business decision making and operations, expansionist approach, risk management, share value, net worth, employee turnover, customer delight, professional management and so on. This shift can be attributed to the changes in the external environment over the decades like globalization, shifts in customer demographics, changes in regulations, technological advancements etc.
Enhance brand loyalty
There is nothing more important to a company than its valued and loyal customers because there can be no business without customers. In order to retain customers, companies need to create brand loyalty. The biggest obstacle in this direction is fierce competition. To stay above competition and sustain brand loyalty, companies need to go the extra mile by providing superior quality products and services. We can cite the example of Nokia here. Even after staying out of the mobile phone market for 2 – 3 years, when Nokia made a comeback with Nokia 6, the product was sold out within a minute. A performance like this is only a reiteration of the strong brand loyalty enjoyed by Nokia. A business can create brand loyalty by following some simple principles –
- Provide superior quality products and services
- Exceed product expectations
- Create customer delight
- Follow up with and feedback from customers
- Look out for avenues for value addition in products and customer services
- Educate and train employees in customer-orientation
Create customer delight
In recent years, the concept of customer satisfaction has broadened in scope and is now often referred as customer delight. Customer delight is a higher and superior form of customer satisfaction. It exceeds customers’ expectations to leave a positive emotional experience. For customer retention and brand loyalty, businesses need to rise above customer satisfaction and try creating customer delight. Businesses can create customer delight by taking care of simple things like
- Providing a point of contact for customers where they can bring their queries and grievances
- Follow up with customers regarding their grievances
- Voluntary feedback options
- Flexible return and refund policy
- Free gifts on occasions and local festivals
- Respecting customers’ privacy concerns
- Giving space to customers in stores (no satellite salesmanship)
- Deploy a customer-oriented service team
Explore new markets and products
A business might be experiencing high sales and profits in the current market, with the current product line. But there are no assurances that it will always remain lucrative. With changing demographics and increasing competition, market share will eventually start to tumble if businesses do not think beyond their existing markets and product line. If a business wishes to grow, it has to build and engage a strong product – market development strategy. Owning to factors like resource constraints, core competencies etc; businesses often adopt the franchise model to explore new markets in new areas.
With the passage of time, the external environment of a business undergoes sea changes. These include changes in technologies, demographics, competition, regulation etc. If a business has to survive and grow it must adapt to the changes in its environment. For example, with changing environment regulations, car manufacturers are now under statutory obligation to maintain the levels of carbon emissions from the cars within the prescribed limits. Citing another example from online retail; several physical retail stores have incorporated online ordering system in their websites or have launched their own mobile apps to connect with their modern day customers.
New business models are tearing apart competition and monopolies across the world. For example, online cab service platforms like Uber has spelled doom for local cab operators. It exposed the loopholes in the services of the local cab service providers. This has necessitated that business owners and managers keep themselves well educated of the advancements made in the concerned industry and by their counterparts in other parts of the world. Countering competition is more about business aggression than adaptation.
Bring speed and accuracy in business decision making
In order to bring speed and accuracy in business decisions, two elements are necessary –
- Data management technology
Having well defined processes ensures that the work arrives at the right place for further processing and correctly executed before it moves on to next stage after following the defined parameters and deadlines. SOP standard operating procedure is the most reliable approach in defining business processes. Implementation of SOPs may require changes in the organization structure and design as it affects the authority-responsibility relationships within an organization.
Data management may sound very generic but it is meant here to encompass all the software applications used in business for collection, processing, analysis and display of data and information. Business data is cumulatively generated at every stage of a process. Relevant data and information need to be made available to different process owners so that they can take correct decisions within the SOP time limit. One of the most effective and powerful functional software tools is the ERP.
YRC Related Articles: How to Write SOPs for Marketing?, How to Start a Retail Business in India, Business Expansion Plan for Small Entrepreneurs, Six Steps to Writing a Great SOP for Retail, How to write SOPs for an Apparel Brand?, How to Develop SOPs for Quick Service Restaurant?, How to write SOPs for Furniture Showroom
Chief Strategy Officer