Why do our great strategies and plans fail?

A lot of time is spent in devising strategies and grand plans to get more customers, get more business and earn more profit. But, you may have observed. a lot of such grand plans fall flat. The projections made with a lot of fanfare just do not see the faintest light of the day. Why? What goes wrong?

I will narrate one very recent experience, relevant to the reason for such failure.

A world leader magazine publication repeatedly sent me promotional emails to “Get 12 issues for Rs. 500 only.” Many of us may also have received this offer email. I got interested and clicked the link in the email to find more details about the various subscription offers. I decided to subscribe for 3 years, which was the longest term available for subscription. I wished to send them a cheque of the subscription amount. For this, I tried to find out an address, email or phone number of some Indian contact, whom I can approach.

Unfortunately, there was no India contact detail on the magazine’s web site. Finally, I got email address of their Singapore office. I contacted them to help me out writing “Please let me know where can I send a cheque for the subscription for 3 years?”.

To this, I got a prompt reply from their Singapore office thanking me for my interest in subscribing and giving me two contact numbers of their Indian Distribution Partner ‘s office in Mumbai. Incidentally, their partner is the biggest media house of India. The Singapore mail also contained an inquiry serial number, which was quoted in subject line, in all the subsequent mails.

I tried calling the two Mumbai numbers given by Singapore office. For two days, both the numbers kept ringing. On the third day, one number was picked up by some person, who gave me other two numbers. I tried calling these new numbers again with the same result. No reply on the first day…! One more days later, the number was picked up by somebody, who asked me the purpose of my call. I explained. She said “Please give me your number, I will call back in half an hour.”. I gave her my number and waited. For 2 more days…!

Then finally, I wrote back to the Singapore office about my failure to get any response from their Indian partner. They replied back promptly and apologetically, that someone would revert back from India office, ASAP. Then, after 2-3 more days, one email came from somebody in their India office (no name of the sender, no phone numbers), instructing me to send a cheque for an amount, which was for one year subscription.

I wrote back to them that I wanted to subscribe for THREE years, which was mentioned in my mail clearly, and send me the form and details for the same. It has been FIVE weeks and I have got no reply…!

No wonder, I have given up on subscribing. If at the time of subscribing I have to pass through all these hassles, what may happen during the next 3 years when 153 weekly issues are expected. If they don’t arrive, I will have to go from pillar to post for getting my concerns addressed.

In short, the greatest magazine in the world, partnered with the best media house in India, lost one customer for 3 years…! At the time of forming an alliance, both the companies must have gone through a great deal of strategy formulation, planning etc. A lot of effort, time, money must have been made to think about how to get more customers, more business and earn more profit from this deal.

But the final result? Disappointing sales performance. Lost opportunities. Frustrated and angry prospects and customers. We also may have experienced such frustrations in our businesses. Many of our plans do not give desired results. The targets are not achieved, even if the product is excellent and there are customers in the market more than willing to buy our product.

Many a times, a grand advertising campaign is started and customers find that there is nobody to give proper reply on the phone numbers mentioned in the advertisements. The whole exercise becomes a wasteful expenditure. Remember, as it is obvious in the above incident, the best in the world organizations are also susceptible to such weaknesses in the execution game, due to poor quality of manpower handling customers’ queries. The problem is very commonly found in many of the companies.

What is the reason for this wide gap between great plans and actual, poor, mediocre results?

The name of that gap is poor execution. In the enthusiasm of planning and strategy making, the final link with the customer is not given proper attention.  Those persons in the organization who come in the actual contact with the customer are not properly trained or motivated to take care of the inquiries, concerns or grievances of the customers or prospects. The customers reach the company through these people who pick up phones or those who meet them on counters or receptions and handle their inquiries.

And, if these people, who are the only link of the company with the customers, do a shabby job, it damages the company’s business immensely. As the business owners, we must wake up the this reality and attach it the highest importance to improve this situation.

So, please find out, in your company who speaks to the customer first? How do they speak? What do they speak? How is their language? How is their tone?Are they well-mannered? Are they friendly and helpful or rude and unconcerned? Do they have proper information ? If they do not have proper answers, what do they do? Do they make customers wait for a very long time? Does the customer feel welcome? What is the customer’s experience after talking to our these people? Do they make the customer happy or unhappy?

Actually, one can call up their own company phone numbers as an outsider just to find out how outsiders’ calls are attended. Or, we can ask some of our friends to make some dummy calls and find out how the calls are being handled.

A lot of effort is spent in getting a customer to inquire for our product or service. And finally when he/she does, if they find some irresponsible attitude of our company people and give up on our company’s products or services, should the customers be blamed for our pathetic performance?

Please fix this final link of your company with the customers. On this link depends the performance of your company.Your company is as strong as your weakest link. If this vital link is left weak, the company will be weak. Strengthen it, as soon as possible, otherwise strategies and plans will remain unachievable.

Author: Sanjay Shah

Sanjay is the author of "Business Management Simplified" which provides Practical, Actionable Solutions for Entrepreneurs. It is an all-in-one guidebook to start, run and grow a small and mid-size business to the next level. He is also an SME Business Coach, Seminar Leader and Motivational/Keynote speaker, Sanjay is based in Mumbai (India). He advises many businesses on Strategy, Leadership, Marketing, Branding, Customer Experience Management and Organization Development. He conducts various self-help seminars and workshops for companies and groups in English, Hindi and Gujarati. For more info, visit : www.SanjayShahSeminar.com

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