Indian analytical industry is passing through another difficult phase currently and most companies are struggling to meet their budget and expectations of the stakeholders. How do you ensure that the impact of business slowdown is minimum for your company?
In their book ‘The Discipline of Market Leaders‘ M. Treacy and F. Wiersema argue that no company can succeed today by trying to be all things to all people. It must instead find the unique value that it alone can deliver to a chosen market. These three value disciplines are Operational Excellence, Product Leadership and Customer Intimacy. Different customers buy different kinds of value. Some customer segments appreciate low prices, while others want the most superior and innovative products. Some customers expect the best of the best customer service, while others want to be able to get quickly a reliable product and support without much hassle. It is therefore important to clearly choose your customer and narrow the value you want to focus on. Market leaders choose to excel in delivering extraordinary levels of one particular value while maintaining a threshold standard on other dimensions of value.
While companies pursuing operational excellence concentrate on making their operations lean and efficient, those pursuing a strategy of customer intimacy continuously tailor their products and services to meet every possible expectations of the customer. Companies that pursue product leadership strive to produce a continuous stream of state-of-the-art products and services. Expected outcome of these individual strategies is lower price, superior service and technological leadership respectively. While every company should strive to excel in any one discipline keeping the other two at or above industry standard, no company can or try to excel in all the three discipline, as they are not always complimentary. What should the analytical companies in India should focus on?
Ninety percent of the top end analytical instruments are imported into India, as we have not developed the technological expertise or infrastructure to achieve self-sufficiency in one of the critical element of our scientific backbone and economy. Nine out of the top ten suppliers are subsidiaries of multinational companies who must follow their global corporate guidelines for sales and support. What must these and other companies must focus on to be successful?
Among the three disciplines we discussed earlier, Indian subsidiaries of the multinational companies have no direct role in product design and development. They may give suggestions but must always focus on selling what is available at the company’s platform. Neither they have much influence over achieving operational excellence except for fine-tuning the local field operations and improve efficiency. However, the one discipline they have control and must excel is Customer intimacy, even if that may not be the global corporate focus. Why is it critical?
What are the expectations of an Indian customer? Essentially, she is looking for superior Product with adequate Performance, excellent Reliability, reliable Quality and good Productivity. Support should be Excellent, Effortless, less expensive and hassle free. Systems should be priced as low as possible so that they can compete in the world markets with their products. Customer Expectations keeps rising with demands on their jobs and based on services they receive from competitors or other vendors with whom they are interacting at a professional or personal level. Another important reason why Indian companies should focus on providing superior support is that there is lack of reliable, experienced and trustworthy third party service providers unlike in many other industries such as consumer durables, home appliances or computers. No engineering college teaches high-end analytical instruments such as Chromatography, Mass spectrometry, NMR, etc. Therefore, supplier companies usually hire fresh engineers and train them for a long time on their products and technologies to make them competent and productive. Only those companies who can meet these expectations can sustain their operations and grow their business year after year. While it may not be always possible to meet the expectations in terms of price that would be more than overcome but even compelling for your customers to always come back to you for the quality and reliability of the support. Price is critical only at the time of purchase but quality and reliable of your support remains visible and important to the users throughout the lifetime of the equipment. If you can provide that kind of total support and get your customers’ total trust, you ensure your success today and tomorrow.
Another important factor that companies must focus on is the long-term value of retaining customers. A loyal customer is the biggest asset of any company and only a delighted customer is loyal customer. While most companies focus on achieving customer satisfaction by meeting their expectations, to make a customer delighted you must exceed their expectations and set new benchmark for support every day. Therefore let customer success be your mantra for success.