When searching for information on the subject of finding tips on balancing customers' expectations with business profitability, I found a moderate amount of information online. Subjects like this require some real life experience in business to really understand how to practically work these issues out. Here's a brief illustration following by a few practical suggestions I've learned through various experiences I've had in jobs and businesses.
The Continuum of Interests
The first goal in a business "conflict of interest" is to resolve it with a "win-win." The second goal is compromise. The third goal is, "not at this time." The fourth goal is, "no" and why. If you imagine a line with 7 dots on it: 3 dots on the left represent the customer's interest, the three dots on the right represent your interests, and the middle dot is "win-win" or "a meeting of interests" which is the ideal goal.
Practical Suggestions on Balancing Interests
- A degree of flexibility is required to consistently balance customers' interests with a businesses profit. There is usually more middle ground between our businesses profit and the customer's interests than we initially think. We just need to figure out what our options are in any given situation.
- Creativity is a great asset to make use of when a challenge arises. Sometimes asking for feedback from others who are also involved in the business may help us see options we may not have considered.
- Diplomacy is also a helpful character trait to possess when dealing with a difficult situation. If you can have a "meeting of interests" or a compromise that, of course, is best. But whether you are meeting in the middle or "out on the edges" of our imaginary continuum of interests; understanding the customer's situation, explaining your situation briefly but clearly, and seeking mutual solutions is the main role of a diplomat.
- We need to keep focus on essential tasks and the resulting profitability of the business. In my own experience, I've worked with managers who are "thrown back and forth" with every little environmental demand at the moment. Learning what is priority in the moment and staying on that task in the present is the key to getting through the jungle of demands.
- Recognizing self-serving, high maintenance, and even dishonest customers. These are usually people who have some personal problems that carry over into their business. Try not to take their pouting fits too seriously.
- Let go of unprofitable customers in order to make space for more new profitable customers or to invest more time in present customers. Let's face it: you cannot please everyone all the time. And just as there are people who drain all your resources personally, the same truth can carry over in business.
Your first goal when balancing customers' interest with business profitability is "win-win," followed by compromise, then, "not at this time," and, finally, "no" and why. Practical tips include being flexible, creative, having diplomacy, keeping priorities in focus, recognizing unprofitable customers, and letting them go to find space for more profitable customers.
Do you understand and practice using the continuum of interests in your day to day business? Which areas do you need to work on in the above listed tips on balancing customers' expectations with business practices?
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