Good managers will focus on the bigger picture, great managers will also nail the details. Here are a few essential points one must keep in mind when making key business decisions. Without them, a company can begin to lose traction and in turn market share.
Customers appreciate details. Even if they unaware of them, details can ensure the smoothest and best possible experience. Cathay Pacific’s First Class lounge in Hong Kong was designed by Ilse Crawford, a distinguished British interior designer. The design process involved an emphasis on wellbeing and comfort and every detail was engineered with this mantra in mind.
Creating a homey and relaxed atmosphere using warm tones and breaking up the repetitive, organised space common to most airport lounges, a feeling of comfort was achieved. A global brand such as Cathay Pacific understands that the little things matter to their clients and making sure their experience runs frictionlessly is of primary importance.
Consistency is key
Consistency and the upkeep of brand reputation are two key factors that will determine the sustainable success of a business. When consumers expect a particular standard of goods or services from a brand, these must be met to ensure brand loyalty and long-term growth.
Take for example fast food businesses such as McDonald’s, the customer expects low prices, however, understands they are not paying for quality. Almost 100% of the time the consumer receives what they expect and the experience is consistent with any other McDonald’s in the world.
McDonald’s is an expert on detail, it keeps it extremely simple and sticks to what it knows which is what has made them into a globally renowned brand. In the case of McDonald’s especially, brand image has been a key value driver.
Every branch looks very similar, the same imagery and branding are used wherever you go and this communicates a sense of standard to customers. Ensuring small details such as signs lighting up properly and clean restaurants go a long way and ensure customers will return. Inconsistency is what leads to customer dissatisfaction and the loss of brand loyalty.
Stick to promises
Don’t market a promotion or strategy that you may not stick to! One would assume this statement to be obvious however companies fall into this trap much more often than you would expect. In 2009, KFC enlisted Oprah Winfrey to announce an offer of two free pieces of grilled chicken, two sides and a biscuit to anyone who downloaded a coupon within the next two days.
A huge promotion that blew up instantaneously with millions of people signing up. The problems arose when 4 million people came to validate their coupons. Not enough chicken, franchised branches that were not participating and rude service caused small-scale riots and KFC had no choice but to rescind the entire promotion.
As one imagines, the press commenced a slaughter on the KFC brand and even after rectifying the happenings with more free chicken, not a single positive article could be found.
This, of course, is an extreme case, however, the lesson is clear, marketing something unrealistic or without knowing the worst possible outcome is dangerous. Marketing must always be accurate and consistent; confusing branding will deter consumers.
Cut costs, not customers
When attempting to cut costs of doing business it is easy to sacrifice quality and brand reputation. A balance must be achieved between keeping the key details present without letting consumers feel that their brand is slipping below expectation.
With the rise of technology, brands have more exposure to consumers than ever before and this increases the risk of reputational damage. The way customers perceive a brand will ultimately determine its success and attention should be placed on making sure mainly positive things can be found online.
Understanding who your customers are and what they place importance on will allow for better corporate decision making. Taken from a paper published by Ernst and Young, these are some of the important questions a manager must ask himself in relation to cost-cutting and customer loyalty:
Who are our “good” customers and how will they be affected?
What are we doing about “redundant contacts”?
How do our proposed cost reductions align with important touch points and lifecycle events?
How are we reducing the anxiety and stress our best customers are experiencing?
How effectively do we listen and respond to customers?
Customers remember excellent service and do not appreciate exploitative strategies, making sure customers are satisfied will keep sales steady.
Do your research
When expanding a brand abroad, the small details in cultural differences, language and values pose problems for companies. Ensuring the appropriate research is done into the proposed region, regional customer preference and that the product has been suitably tailored will determine its success.
Not enough analysis of the details will inevitably lead to internationalisation failure. Take eBay’s attempt to enter the Japanese market in 2009. Strategy changes were not implemented according to Japanese consumer preferences and led to an uphill struggle for market share.
For example, there was no cash-on-delivery service which was quite popular in Japan. Buyers, therefore, had to input their payment details online which was not well received at the time.These details may be small, but small issues can lead to big problems.
A few years later eBay revised their strategy and successfully entered the market for the second time, taking into account their customers at the forefront of any decisions.
There is nothing worse than seeing a foreign firm push its way into a new market without making the necessary adjustments. Howeve, companies that thoroughly adapt will be extremely successful. Appreciating foreign values and incorporating them into your internationalisation strategy will pay off and shows respect and due-diligence.
Being obsessive pays off
To differentiate yourself from the company across the road is becoming increasingly tricky and a high quality, focused service is one of the best ways to leave a mark on an industry. The contemporary individual has little time, consistency and simplicity are qualities that individuals favour when deciding where to consume.
The best way to make an impression is by nailing the details, making sure that the consumer is left feeling at ease and would happily repeat the process again. A brand must show that it cares about its customers and the little things are what count. For example, a family sit at a restaurant with two children.
As a treat for the kids, a waiter brings out colouring pencils and drawing paper. This simple action instantly gives evidence that the establishment cares about its customers and it plays up to the emotions of a consumer. The attention to detail takes no effort whatsoever but positively impacts the customer’s experience.
Focussing on the small stuff and putting yourself in your consumer’s shoes can be the difference between success and failure. Following some of these steps should help when addressing key issues within your business.
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