Customer Focus in Business

Understanding that a customer has needs when using a good or service can allow a business to identify marketable opportunities for increasing profitability or maximizing revenues. For a large portion of customer focus, its about communication.


Small Breakdown of developing customer focus.

A customer focused approach can be adopted by many aspects of a business, such as;

  • Sales
  • Management
  • Location
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing
  • Growth and Extensibility

Many customers will have different needs and goals and there are many aspects to a business that may need to change to adopt a customer-first approach, but the payoff is;

  • High Customer Retention
  • Long Term Commitment
  • Greater Profitability
  • Greater Customer Satisfaction

However, adopting such an approach may also have some negative business consequences;

  • Increased Spending
  • Increased Overheads
  • Increased After-Sales spending
  • Immediate responses and on-site negotiation
  • Lower Profitability
  • Harder Automation or lack there-of

Providing a Customer-Focused Approach to Sales

Giving the customer what they want is paramount to ensuring a customer-focused approach. Customers usually can appreciate a hands-off approach to getting things done and are usually willing to pay extra for it. Providing a service that is better than the competition or providing greater pre-sales support increases, for example, through online-chat or in-person representation allows the business to increase their potential to close a sale and provide the customer greater satisfaction in their choice.

There are many ways to provide a custom approach to sales;

  • Offer a product that is superior to competition – If your business is able to deliver a product better than the rest, you can capitalize on its potential to increase the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Use Marketing that drives the customer toward package solutions – providing a complete service, rather than a means to an end will allow for greater satisfaction, and as a by-product greater opportunities for increased added value.
  • Guide the customer – Inform the customer of any regulations or licensing that they may need, arrange to set that up for them as part of the service.
  • Offer tertiary products that complement their purchase.
  • Provide Pre-Sales service to ensure the customer is satisfied through demonstration or information.
  • Understand the customer’s stated clear needs and objectives to provide a product they would be satisfied with.
  • Know when the customer is ready to talk, and when they aren’t.
  • Exceed the customer’s expectations.
  • Develop relationships that the customer values.
  • Offer solutions to suit the needs and concerns that the customer may have before purchase.
  • Don’t be passive. Engage with the customer
  • Ensure customers receive what they ask for and gauge success

Offering a way for the customer to reflect their satisfaction, through survey or metrics will allow a business to identify where they achieve, exceed or disappoint the expectations of the customer.

Providing a Customer-Focused Approach to Management

A large part of Customer Focus for management staff and management, in general, is providing proper training for staff to fulfill the needs of the customer above and beyond their expectations,

  • Management shouldn’t be a roadblock between the customer and the sales staff. Provide a framework that can be followed such as a budget or develop routine customer stories.
  • Provide training to ensure the sales staff know what isn’t allowed.
  • Use appropriate means of communication, don’t push for sales.
  • Have measures in place to prevent abuse, A case study about continental found on average the lowest value customers whose flights were delayed were receiving the highest compensation.
  • Know your market segment and the needs of the customers, if a customer does not care about your values as a business, you need to change to be competitive.
  • Provide staff with a view to the customers’ interests and an incentive to stick to it.
  • What is the best way to collect customers’ responses and respond to issues?
  • Coordinate your teams as a group with clear ground rules and goals but don’t alienate the customer

Providing a Customer-Focused Approach to Location

When a customer wants a product or service, they may be willing to pay more than the going rate for convenience, more-so due to the new market for app-based food deliveries and same-day online shopping. Having the customer see your storefront when they need to is a perfect situation for both parties.

Many businesses also opt to help the local community and sponsor community projects.

References;

Writing a Requirement Specification Document for a Software Project

A Quick and Easy guide to a Minimal Software Requirement Specification Document

When a problem or solution requiring software is conceived it is essential that the software project is properly conveyed to the software house, agency or project staff creating the software. When constructing the document there are defined standards that the SRS may be structured to follow, such as IEEE Std 830-1998 which has been superseded by IEEE Std 29148-2011.

The document may also be written by the customer should the client choose to do so as it may provide more control of the specifications required in the project. Simply a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) could be titled ;

This is what the customer wants the software to do.

Introduction

The introduction should indicate the expected behaviors of the software as clearly as possible detailing the processes, activities, interfaces, and tasks required by the software. The introduction can be muddied if the software is not already clearly conceptualized or thought out or is to be built onto existing software if the requirements are not understood by all parties. It may also be necessary to indicate the expected life cycle, phase-out period and maintenance required to maintain the performance and usability of the software. Users may also be considered.

Purpose

An SRS document may state the purpose of the software which could be considered an ultimate end-goal of the resulting project and consider the project a failure if not met. It should conclude with affirming that this document specifies how the software should be designed, developed, tested and implemented where applicable. If the purpose is to improve the speed of current business processes then make it appear in the purpose section, if the purpose is to improve the usability of the current software used by staff then include it in the purpose section as well. If the software is also supposed to do something not included in the purpose or easily justified by this section, then it can be hard to justify why such a feature should exist in the project.

Scope

The scope of the document is to provide a description of what the document specification includes, such as use cases and requirements. Some of the program may be in multiple documents so the scope is necessary to reduce overlap between projects.

System Overview

System Overview provides a description of the context, function and requirements of the software project.

References

References should indicate if the software is somewhat pre-existing, any references made in the document and references to appendixes should also be included too.

Overall Description

The overall description is the second section of the SRS document.

Product Perspective

A product perspective is a detailed outlook of what the program should appear like to the users of the system, some software projects may be completely transparent to users, if so then the product perspective should outline the interfacing between other software components that make it so.

  • The overall description should not be vague, it should provide justification as to why the functions of the program are required.
  • The overall description should detail crucial cornerstones of the program and interfaces that exist with the hardware or software.
  • Some of the programs may be pre-existing which will require the project interface detailed and easily readable to be understood.

The Description should have six sections,

  • System Interfaces which the user may interact with the system or the system may interact with other systems.
  • User Interfaces which the users may interact with which may include the frequency of their usage and the intuitiveness of the design.
  • Hardware. Including the frequency of use of the hardware, considerations to the longevity of the hardware and ability to update or dispose of the hardware.
  • Software. Including external interfaces, naming conventions.
  • Communication and Telecom both in interfaces software to software and to the user.
  • Memory. Including minimum requirements.
  • Operations and processes that the program may perform real-time or batch, transaction or otherwise.
  • Adaptations and the ability to configure the system. For open source or high-security systems, this section may be larger than private or closed source software due to the need to ensure that it is secure or can be maintained or made depreciated quickly.

Design Constraints

  • What are the limitations of the software?
  • What might the software fail to perform at?
  • What are the limitations of the programming language if selected?
  • How might this delay the project if risks arise?
  • What are the limitations of the users’ ability?
  • What training will need to take place in order to use the software effectively?
  • What does the software not do?
  • What happens if a user does not use the software as intended?

In most aspects of software engineering, there are simply parts of human nature and failure modes or edge cases that simply cannot always be mitigated, in such scenarios it is important to outline what steps your software has taken to make these issues not slow the productivity of the software and ensure that the system runs as intended part of this may be detailed in test cases written in the appropriate section.

Product Functions

Product Functions should as best as possible describe the function of the program and how the modules of the program if any will work together with the interfaces of the system to produce the software’s desired functions.

The aim of the section is to break down the large characteristics of the program into more readable and manageable sections that can be delegated out to a team or read to an individual clearly without much overlap to avoid confusing what the program is designed to accomplish and what each function does.

  • The functions should be organized and listed so that they may be read for the first time and understood effectively.
  • The section may include graphical sections or UML detailing how the program may operate.
  • The validity of the input.
  • Sequence diagrams or how the program may pass data between functions.
  • How the program accounts for abnormality.
  • Common input examples may be a good way of explaining the function to the reader and providing a sample of what the programmer should accomplish on each function.
  • Sequencing.

User Characteristics

When a user may use the system either from time to time (i.e. infrequently), once or many many times it is important to detail this information in the user characteristics section and account for this in the software, if the methods used to do something are contrived or confusing it could lead to increased mistakes or data mismanagement further down the line and increase the need for normalization or reconciliation of information.

  • User Characteristics should detail the factors that affect each user and provide use cases for each user, it may also be ideal to detail overlapping functions that each user may use and diagram where appropriate.
  • It also may be applicable to detail why each user may need a function of the program.

Specific Requirements

The specific requirements should detail all of the requirements of the clients, the user and the software itself. It should provide suitable detail to enable the software to be written clearly and tested effectively. It should be stated for each requirement which user the requirement is for and if applicable that the test case corresponding to the requirement should be satisfied through cross-referencing other parts of the document.

  • The requirements should be clearly stated to prevent later mistakes or edge cases, poorly written requirements or poorly designed functions may cause the program to be unstable or possibly unsuitable for use. Proper error handling should be given to most aspects of the programs requirement and how it operates to meet the requirement.
  • Vagueness or Failings in test cases may allow for requirements to be deliberately misinterpreted, such as “The program must be fast and easy to use” may be considered easy to use for the programmer or tester, and therefore a suitable statement that the requirement is met, but not for the user who may not understand the inner workings of the software and therefore lack the knowledge to use the software effectively as much as the programmer testing the requirement, it may be a good idea to allow the users to try the functions using agile development and adapting the program accordingly.

The final part of the document should include the appendices and the index.

What actually is Marketing?

Marketing is Anticipating, and satisfying, customers wants and needs, efficiency and profitability, Marketing includes

  • Market Research
  • The Marketing Mix

What is the purpose of Marketing?

  • To make profit, essentially by improving sales
  • To remind the customer of your product through promotion
  • To see what the customer wants by offering their product
  • To link the product to the brand and create a brand association
  • To communicate and offer competition to other businesses (to compete)

There are two types of business orientations, Business to Business where businesses sell products to other businesses, such as tools, office equipment and building supplies. Business to Customer is more noticeable to individuals as it is more prominent and most common.

Marketing begins by setting a goal or objective that defines what the company wants to achieve, and when it hopes to reach these goals.

They then create a marketing strategy, to outline how they will bring in what they wanted to reach their objective.

the four ps of marketing product price place and promotion marketing mix

What defines a Market?

A market is anywhere that brings together buyers and sellers with a view of exchanging goods and services. The location can be physical, national global, physical or electronic.

A niche market is a small or select group of a larger market. Niche markets generally have a smaller cohort of customers interested in the product, however some businesses sell their products at a high price to compensate for lost sales.

Market size is the total volume or value of all sales of a particular group of products. Market growth is the percentage change in market size over a period of time. Market share is the percentage of the market achieved by one firm, or brand, or product.

Markets can be dynamic, which means they change quickly or stable, where any change is fairly small. Dynamic markets are becoming more and more common as technology advances to new greats, incorporating new techniques mean a business can become obsolete.