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The Right Relationship

The Right Relationship
 Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.

 

Being at the right place at the right time has been the formula for success for many businesses. It’s no accident that companies that succeed have the right product, readily accessible. How can you be in “the right place at the right time”?

Every business is part of a unique community – at the core are management and their employees. Closely related to the business are its loyal customers, key vendors, and investors or shareholders. The rest of your customers make a wider circle. At the outside edge of your community are potential customers. There are those that know about your business and have an opinion of you, and those that don’t know about you yet, but would like to. To succeed, you need to bring each element of your community into greater involvement with your business.

Right relationship means having the right resources (products, information, ability to respond) to interact at the level and in the way that each element of your community wants. We have all been put off by aggressive telemarketers, whose strategy is to invade enough people’s lives that they find the few people that want what they are offering. In a small town like ours, your reputation is everything.

You have the most control over the experience people have at the core of your community. Relentlessly improving on this experience puts you in the “right place at the right time” from your customer’s point of view. 

People’s perception of your business is built on a series of “moments of truth” – the experience they take with them when they interact with your business in some way. Identifying the “moments of truth” for your business is the first step in getting control over what you communicate. How do your customers discover that you exist? How do they find out what you are offering? How do they buy from you? And finally, how do they use what they buy?  Although this might seem rather basic, it is often forgotten in the rush to “market” your business. By thinking about your target market as a community of people with differing expectations based on their prior involvement, you can tailor your interaction to meet them where they want to be met.

Success starts with knowing what business you are in, and clearly and consistently communicating your “value proposition” in everything you do. You don’t go to Home Depot for milk. Your communities’ expectation in interacting with you is set by their perception of what you offer. Your core community, especially your employees, need to be thoroughly trained in what you offer and how, and just as importantly, what you don’t do.  Every communication channel needs to reinforce this message.

Next, you need people who are competent to serve your customers. From the customer’s point of view, your business is what they see. The biggest part of this is interactions with your employees. By serving your employees, you set the example in how they serve your customers. Every person in your business is serving a customer, or serving someone who serves a customer. Your circle of influence starts with you, and how you interact with your staff. Service doesn’t mean obeisance. It consists of respect, clear communication, excellence, integrity, and focusing on mutually desired results. Not all employees are right for your business, just as not all customers are. Clear expectations, consistently communicated, make all the difference.

The last element is the systems you use. The best employee in the world will do a poor job without the right information and tools. By identifying moments of truth, and anticipating every contingency in a customer sales/service cycle, you can have a response ready that reinforces and delivers on your “service proposition”. Good systems empower your employees to deliver on the promises you make to your community of customers. They increase productivity, allowing you to do more with less. In manufacturing or farming, systems are equipment that is flexible and fully integrated, and provides rapid feedback to management. In the service industries, systems are often about gathering, organizing, and accessing the right information at the right time. Employees need current information about inventory, margins, and customers. Management needs to know what is selling and why. A good system feeds back on itself, telling you what works and what needs to improve.  By measuring the right things, you put your business in the right place at the right time. 

The “value proposition”, the right people, and systems that enable your staff combine to put you in the right place with the right product for your community of customers.  As technology advances, systems that only big businesses could afford have become feasible for small businesses, changing the landscape for those that are willing to seize the opportunity.


Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com

     
 

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