Serving with One’s Heart

Indonesia …… of the most promising economy in Asia is certainly progressing positively forward in areas of business evolution and development. With a population of more than 230 million people, the potential and opportunities ahead are abundant. Depending on the market segment that one wants to penetrate, it is then important to identify a long term strategy and business practice (other than product and price ; which by default need to be great) to ensure continuous growth.

In looking at Niro Indonesia, we have noted that the business revolves around 2 key important factors.

They are :

a) Niro Indonesia is currently very much a B2B business. (selling products and concepts to dealers, retailers, IDs, architects)

b) The targeted consumer segment would be the middle/upper class customer type.

Hence, we felt that for us to gain competitive advantage over our rivals (who could be cheaper than us and could develop new products as good as ours), we have to work very hard in excelling our “services rendered” to our customers. The business-culture of “wanting to serve passionately from our hearts” must exist within every employee in the company. In this context, we must be able to exceed our customers’ expectations every time and create a positive “Niro Experience” for them at every point of the business – from design, plan and spec, promotion, sales transaction, distribution, logistics, technical support, installation supervision, right up to after-sales services. Most importantly, we need to make our customers feel that we “care for them” and we bring value to them personally and professionally besides merely just trying to conclude a sale.

When we serve a retailer, we could offer services such as training for their staff, getting involved in their promotion & marketing communication program, jointly analyzing their business for them, giving prompt responses to their requests, providing free design services and having our own Niro-Sales-Promoter at their store to support their sales. This is then truly “pampering” them and being totally immersed in their business (as if it is our own). Whilst in the process of “pampering” our customers, we must of course also maintain a strict level of discipline and professionalism to ensure that these retailers are not taking advantage of us. Hence, a continuous demand for higher targets (growth is a must) and a feedback process mechanism must be in place to ensure common understanding and platform of operational needs. In the long run, we then hope to develop a strong partnership with the “right people” who appreciates our professionalism/services and respects us for what we are doing for them and their business. Then, as the reliance for one another strengthens and the synergy improves, the task of influencing and convincing them of our new future strategies will become less difficult as TRUST for one another solidifies. Further, when the element of TRUST exists, we will naturally “care for one another”. This in it-self will present a platform for us to be able to communicate challenging issues and handle criticism openly. Immediate actions can then be taken to ensure weaknesses are overcome quickly (speed) on either party.

The little things in life matters

Customers, no matter how hard, difficult and demanding they are, they do also have a soft and sentimental side. Most of them do anyway.

Hence, going out of our way to do little things like sending them a birthday greeting, remembering their spouse’s birthday, sending them a bouquet of flowers on their wedding anniversary, sending them a photo of themselves taken at special moments – all adds up to the bonding process that will stretch far beyond having just a professional relationship. True sincerity such as this, with a genuine wish to bring a smile or a cheer onto our customers’ face and hearts are true “personal touches” that will lighten up their day. Isn’t it a great feeling if we can bring a little joy and happiness to someone without any expectations? Wouldn’t it be great if a customer becomes our friend ?

Heart & Culture

It is very difficult for us to teach someone “how to smile sincerely”. Experienced and sensitive business people can smell hypocrisy a mile away. Services rendered must be genuinely aimed at wanting to solve the customers’ problems. Infact, a great place to start would be to ensure that we serve our “internal customers (colleagues)” with our hearts. Be strong in our commitment to one another ; meet our deadlines and be accountable to our tasks at hand. Be prepared to admit mistakes and be prepared to change continuously as we evolve and find better ways to do things. Do not be defensive and do care for others the way we would want others to care for us. With strong teamwork and everyone working in harmony, the strength of the company becomes so much more powerful.

We ourselves are customers to many products and services ………

Isn’t it a pleasure to buy from someone who genuinely cares and listen to us versus from some fast-talking sales person who only has his own commission in his mind? Wouldn’t it be true that we would pay a premium for better services? Aren’t we sometimes encouraged/motivated to change our minds from our “originally intended purchase plan (product or services) ” to “another plan which we never thought of in the first place” because we felt that the sales-person knew what he was doing and provided a better caring solution for us ? Ultimately, as a customer, what we feel is important and our hearts play a major role in our decision making process. The intangible “element of trust” and “the need for being taken care of” sometimes take priority over price and product type. (This would be especially true to middle and upper class customers where their affordability-window is much wider).

Hence, when we sell, we also then need to use our hearts to touch our customers’ hearts.

A business professor may chose to challenge the above idealism and perhaps even tag the writings above as being naïve. How do we infact measure or put a KPI on serving customers with our hearts ? How do we measure a smile? Do we count the birthday greetings we send out ?

Well, I don’t know ……

All I know is that when we make a person “feel good” about buying Niro, then we have created a selling advantage for future repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

Just an opinion

28 Aug 2011

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