The most valuable assets of a 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.”
(Drucker 1999, P135)
Decades ago there was a debate about quality vs price. Many experts beleived that investing in quality will always increase the cost of the product or the service. But Companies like Toyota demonstrated that by investing in people and process actually improved the quality at lower cost.
My entire work experience till recently has been in the manufacturing sector. Most of the manufacturing activities are human resource oriented. Automation of assembly lines too areoperated by humans. The only shift has been from ‘unskilled’ to ‘skilled ‘ labours. So we are in the era of what Drucker calls “the knowledge works”. Who can think, identify and solve problems to improve the process performance.
Take any industry today from Steel to Healthcare, human centered approach has allowed the companies to cruise ahead of competition. Just like Toyota’s human centered operations strategy allowed the company to produce higher quality cars , at lower prices, any business, may it be a service oriented, this approach will allow them to offer better customer service at a fraction of the cost than their competitors.
Let us take the example of a omni channel retail brand. E Commerce and varied product offerings are raising the operational demands at a store level. Customers browse and compare product,quality and prices online. Then they might order online or in store. So your inventory data better be accurate. Otherwise it can turn into disaster.
Like “Good Manufacturing” can a company would adopt a ” Good Job” concept, so as to attract and retain the best talent. This will involve investing in people and making a set of operational choices. Which would consider how many products and services a company will offer. And there has to be a balance between job standardization and empowerment to the employee.
In todays era of e-commerce, brick and mortar companies have to adopt innovative approaches to gain customer loyalty. Lowering your prices is not a good strategy. Some E Bay or Amazon will beat you at that.
But if you create a better customer exprience to give your customers a more compelling reason to shop at your store, they are more likely to do so, repeatedly.
Those reasons could be –
# In stock merchandise;
# Friendly and knowledgable employee;
# Your employee should be empowered to have time to spend with the customer to help him/her make the correct choice of the product they like and would love until they use it;
# Have transperency and consistency in your dealings.
In todays age of computorization you dont require great software to ensure a much better store experience for your customers. Computers installed in each zone to take payments can thin the lines at cash counters. Because a customer may spend couple of hours in store browsing, selecting and purchasing a product. But cannot wait more than two minutes to pay.
So a good store operational strategy will ensure repeat customer.