Sunday, January 15, 2012

Organizational reliability & customer satisfaction: two sides of the same coin

The above excellent image representing trust building was taken from here, where the blog writer elucidates on the importance of trust in day-to-day marketing activities.

The desire to achieve organizational success – which is defined, based on attainment of preset performance parameters - is what drives work in an organization. The top management personnel of any organization define the concept of success for their firm, set parameters of success and monitor progress towards this picture of success. This movement for success is from the point of view of employers and employees.

Now, the point to ponder: what is it that defines success of an organization from the customer’s and outsider’s point of view? Success may mean many things:

a) For a competitor salesman, the market share, movement of products in the market, market goodwill, stockist opinion of the company, customer comments and brand image are probably his parameters to measure the success of a competitor company
b) For a financial analyst, a firm’s sharevalue growth, profit margin, sales value, earning per share, future growth prospects, dividends offered and cash reserves are probably the measures of success
c) A person from the production field will surely be impressed with the technology of the machinery, plant layout, material flow systems and other operational aspects of the competitor firm.

So the moot point: is there a common denominator for defining success? From the above paragraph, success apparently means different things to different people.


RELIABILITY (or trust)

If you ask a superior why she regards a particular subordinate or colleague valuable, again the point that the superior will emphasize is RELIABILITY of the subordinate or peer or colleague! When a customer finds that the product or service of an enterprise is consistent in meeting expectations or requirements, then the firm is regarded as reliable by the customer. An employee has implicit and explicit expectations from the employer company, a firm that meets these employee expectations, will find the employer company reliable. So finally, reliability factor is what makes a firm (or even an individual) successful.

How to be reliable?

The first interesting aspect of reliability is that it is a moving target (what is defined as reliable now may not be the same tomorrow, since competition will set new standards. However, basic elements of performance will remain steady). When a Raymond’s fabric product is purchased, there is a certain expectation of quality, durability, look and feel of the fabric, from the purchaser. The day Raymond’s stops meeting this set of expectations, the firm loses the customer.

Reliability is thus about ‘being at it’! Understanding the performance expectations and meeting the same consistently. Reliability is a continuous operation; it is not a one-off process.

So are there any sutras or guidelines to build trust or reliability in an individual or organization? Reliability sutras are common for an individual personality or organizational personality. Let us explore the reliability sutras with respect to a MR:

1) The reliabile MR is one who shows up regularly! Consistent communication or messaging and being there, builds trust ie., reliability image.
2) Reliability is not built through big-ticket expenses; it is done through the small things (thoughtful activities on a day-to-day basis). A small thing like providing the required samples on a monthly basis to the target doctor, for personal use, will prove the MR more reliable than the boisterous and flashy competitor MR who lavishes the doctor with freebies and praises.
3) Promptness and the element of involvement with concern for the work on part of the employee or MR, is a feature that will build the picture of a reliable person.
4) Avoiding giving excuses: blaming on the season, or extraneous reasons for a negative development, passing-the-buck, may help a person get reprieve, however, this creates a cycle of working based on excuses and alibis, by the MR or employee, and this makes the MR create a sense of unreliability about him/herself.
5) Reliability is: ‘not crossing the line’. Maintaining the decorum in any relationship or at any setting creates a sense of reliability about the person.
6) The message of reliability is also put across in the dress, mannerisms, body language and communication of a person. A smart MR who regularly shows up clean shaven, with a tie and looking very presentable will surely have a better appeal of reliability.
7) Familiarity: is said to breed contempt. However, familiarity also creates a sense of reliability about a person. Familiarity also builds confidence. When Jane Goodall would study chimpanzees in forest settings, the first thing she would do was being still, simply observing and recording the proceedings. She would sit still for hours together in the forest setting near the chimpanzees. This helped Jane and the chimpanzees develop a bond of trust. The chimpanzees did not sense any threat from Jane. The cornerstone of Jane’s research success was reliability.
8) Skill set and relevant knowledge base: in a MR or employee is the core of creating reliability about a person or organization.
9) Empathy: is a quality that could have come in point no. 8 (skill set), however, it requires a special mention. The ability to empathize or imagine oneself in the other person’s shoes, will make the MR behave appropriately with the doctor/chemist, this will improve the reliability rating of the MR.

The same sutras seen above apply to organizations for achieving reliability. Consistent and regular communication, doing small things with promptness, being constructive, not giving excuses but having a dialogue and negotiating, being responsible, having requisite skill sets and knowledge management at the organizational level, and having organization-wide empathy - all these are fundamental sutras that drive reliability organization-wide.

An organization’s survival and growth depends on the image of reliability. The foundation of all organizational success is trust or reliability. Organizational reliability and customer satisfaction are verily the two sides of the same coin! A RELIABLE ORGANIZATION ACHIEVES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION!!

A firm has to be trusted or found reliable by customers and other associates, this is the end-point of all organizational processes (and also the requirement for individual success). Unreliable individuals or unreliable companies do not taste durable success.

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