Quality & Service

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What It Takes to Reshore Manufacturing Successfully

The process of bringing assembly work back to U.S. factories from abroad is more challenging than the economics would predict. In the United States, many key resources, including the manufacturing workforce, have atrophied. Author Willy C. Shih (Harvard Business School) recommends that to reduce turnover, companies that embrace reshoring — bringing assembly work back from abroad — encourage workers to complete training and certification.

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Should Your Business Be Less Productive?

Research suggests that productivity improvements can have counterproductive results in a service business. Productivity gains are not always easy to make without sacrificing perceptions of quality, and unlike on the assembly line, increased productivity may not always lead to increased profitability. Instead, in a service business, productivity must be treated as a strategic decision variable.

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Reading Global Clients’ Signals

How can geographically distributed companies monitor large clients’ attitudes about their services? Traditional customer satisfaction surveys can lack sufficient timeliness and detail. But taking a big data approach to analyzing collaborations lets companies gain valuable and timely insights into client satisfaction. Examining the structural properties of email communication patterns and correlating them with external performance metrics can offer managers helpful insights.

Trader Joes. Image courtesy of Flickr user niiicedave.
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Three Things Retailers Must Do To Compete

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

Companies looking to build a satisfied and loyal customer base need to understand what drives satisfaction for their particular group of customers. Grocer Trader Joe’s, for instance, typically carries only about 4,000 carefully selected items, in contrast the the 50,000 found in many other grocery stores.

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Roxbury Community College Partnership
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Five Steps to Digitally Transforming City Government

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino is almost radically tech averse, yet he’s led a revamp of a customer relationship management system that has transformed the way the city, its workers, and its citizens interact. Starting with its Citizens Connect app (initially for better pothole reporting), Boston has expanded its data interface to allow faster turnaround times for repair, and has even held a competition across departments to reward the quickest response to citizen requests.

Image courtesy of Flickr user H4NUM4N.

The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy

Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.

Image courtesy of Flickr user kenjonbro.

What Really Happened to Toyota?

Consumers were surprised in October 2009 by the first of a series of highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the United States. Citing a potential problem in which poorly placed or incorrect floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models, Toyota announced that it was recalling 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. The article discusses two root causes for Toyota’s quality problems.

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McAfee: ‘Customer Service in the Digital Age: The Eternal Lament’

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  • Read Time: 1 min 

MIT Sloan’s Andrew McAfee reflects on “the amazingly bad design and execution of customer-facing processes among financial services firms.” He wonders if they’ll only get better “when competitors appear who take process design and execution seriously, and digitize them to the maximum extent possible.”

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Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report

How does Toyota solve problems, create plans, and get new things done? Company managers use a tool called the A3, named after the international paper size on which it fits, as a key tactic in sharing a deeper method of thinking. This tactic and style of processing information lies at the heart of Toyota’s sustained success.

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What Quality Means Today

Early in our careers, when we worked for the General Electric Co. in Schenectady, New York, there was no road map for a young manager desperately trying to find ways to lead. One had to experiment, employing various mechanisms such as motivational sessions, inventory control, budgetary control and information management.

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Don’t Be Unique, Be Better

Even the best companies let their customers down sometimes, and many disappoint frequently. The authors lay much of the blame for this on companies’ obsession with uniqueness and differentiation. According to their analysis, companies are too quick to dismiss “category benefits” as a source of advantage. They explain why companies such as Toyota, Cemex, Orange, Medtronic and Sony are successful because they are simply better at offering what customers really want.

Showing 1-20 of 30