Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Managing People Tip 15


Who to delegate a task to

Find out about yourself

The Management Potato

Encouraging ideas


Something for your office wall

The unbroken chain

Are you a successful manager?

Monkey rules

What are managers really for?

Person in hole

Getting your hands dirty

Weekly meeting

Some awkward questions

The three Value Disciplines

Captain of the ship

Where do I get my ideas from? People and books. These are the only sources of new ideas. (A training course is a combination of both).(Still time to get yourself or a loved one a management book for Christmas!)

This month's customer service thought is from a book called The Discipline of Market Leaders by Treacy and Wiersema (thanks to Paul Tansey for lending it to me).

The authors reckon that to be successful your company needs to choose, clearly and decisively, which of the three "value disciplines" they are going to use in order to compete.

The three VDs are:
1. Operational Excellence. This means being efficient and low cost, think Easy Jet. As long as your customer service is not TOO bad, (all the basics covered, but probably not much 'delight') and your service is efficient, then you're onto a winner. Tescos would be another.

2. Product Leadership. This means making the best product, or giving the best service. Intel, Nike, Ferrari, Waitrose, and of course my Project Management course. Or maybe John Coltrane. Clearly the types of customers who are buying top products will also expect faultless service.

3. Customer Intimacy. This means getting to know your customer so well that you can tailor your offering and give them exactly what they want, so they HAVE to get it from you. Like my Project Management course. Or maybe the B&B where I am typing this which is my favourite one because the lady who runs it knows I love mushrooms and buys them in specially and cooks them perfectly - fried in butter, oh yes! Or maybe my website man who isn't the cheapest, or cleverest in the world, but who understands exactly what I want and is always a pleasure to deal with. So as well as a carefully tailored product or service the customer care side must also be good - not so much in terms of the efficiency of systems but the personal touch.

Clearly Ferrari have decided not to go for manufacturing efficiency, and they won't make a car to your design (OK then maybe a bit, like the interior). And Tescos don't have the best food in the country, and won't stock your favourite curry paste just for you (I recommend Ferns Vindaloo but only half a tea spoon per meal for 4) And this B&B isn't the cheapest, and doesn't have the biggest rooms. But they all succeed at the VD that they have selected.

Personally I think the NHS is doing VD1, while private hospitals (sorry to swear!) are doing VD3. And what about local government...? It was VD1 but maybe it's moving towards VD3.

So - what's yours??


PS - rather a lot of Product Placement in this one for some reason - I'm expecting big cheques from various companies now. And for a surge in sales of A Love Supreme.

PPS - maybe instead of planning your new year's resolutions in January you should start thinking about them NOW - for example, what has been good this year that you want to do more of, and what has been less good that you are going to change next year. For example, I've worked too hard, being bad at saying no to difficult and badly paid training courses in distant places, and I'm resolving to do something about that next year. Now's the time for such thoughts.

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