Date Added: 09/14/04
September 14, 2004 - Understanding customers' needs is the most important challenge to increase revenues and grow market share, according to an analysis of senior leaders. Effectively positioning the corporate brand with the target market and employee development were named second and third, respectively.
Based on discussions with almost 50 senior leaders from medium-sized companies located predominantly in Northeast Wisconsin, understanding customers' needs was cited 62 percent of the time as being essential to helping increase revenues and grow market share. The analysis was conducted by Unique Business Solutions and reveals proactive approaches into the challenges that senior leaders are facing.
"Focusing on the customer is increasingly important to senior leaders because they realize the need to provide differentiation in the marketplace as products and services become more and more commoditized," explained David Yeghiaian, president and owner, Unique Business Solutions, LLC. "Once customers' needs are understood, senior leaders want to develop a strategy to align their organizational brand positioning with the customers' needs to create a comprehensive customer-focused plan. Senior leaders then realize the necessity to 'internally align' the organization through various employee development methods such as employee engagement, coaching and leadership development."
Senior leaders consisted mainly of corporate presidents, with some vice presidents and director-level leaders. Data is based on feedback received when discussing an organization's main opportunities or challenges related to growing revenues.
Respondents further defined understanding customers' needs as asking customers questions such as: what their future needs are, how they define their ideal supplier, how they make purchasing decisions, and where they obtain information to make their purchasing decisions.
Brand positioning was named 50 percent of the time with senior leaders. They classified it as developing targeted messages based on customers' needs, creating marketing plans, and selecting personalized marketing programs to effectively execute the plans with specific customer segments. Employee development followed closely, being mentioned by 47 percent of the senior leaders. Employee-related topics in this category included engagement, coaching, leadership development, communications, and training.
"When you step back and review the top three items, senior leaders know what is needed to become more productive and successful," Yeghiaian continued. "Success begins with a clear vision by senior leaders. They know that they need to understand customers' needs and that the only way to accomplish this is to proactively ask customers. Once they gain this information, they want to develop a strategy to match how they position their organization with their customers. Senior leaders then need to effectively communicate this to all employees so everyone is hearing the same message."
Yeghiaian added: "employees that receive good communication are more engaged in the organization, and provide better service to customers. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in increased growth and value for the organization."
Other items cited in the discussions as being important to increase revenues included: Web-based programs consisting of Internet redesign, intranet enhancements or Customer Relationship Management (29 percent); market analysis for new products or services (21 percent); strategic planning (14 percent); and merger and acquisition assistance (14 percent).
Citing a lack of internal resources and acknowledgement of external subject matter expertise, most senior leaders mentioned the need to partner with external consultants, working in conjunction with their own employees, to successfully face these challenges by developing strategies and programs to achieve increased revenues.
Unique Business Solutions, LLC is a full-service business consulting company that is passionate about helping organizations become more productive and successful from increased revenues, reduced costs and/or improved processes. Its unique approach provides personalized services for each customer. Services include marketing communications, brand management, employee relations, strategic planning and M&A integration assistance. More information is available at www.unique-solutionsinc.com.