- Research Highlight
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Product-development and marketing managers know that customers make purchasing decisions on the basis of many criteria, including service quality, delivery speed and price.
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In a world of mobile talent, open markets and brutal competition, it’s increasingly difficult to maintain an advantage over competitors through product innovation. As a result, some companies have figured out how to outdistance rivals through customer-focused strategies that are virtually imitation-proof.
In recent years, managers have become increasingly aware of the need to create value for their customers in the form of experiences. Unfortunately, they have often proceeded as if managing experiences simply meant providing entertainment or being engagingly creative. The issue is far more complex than that.1
Not long ago, continuity and stability were the watchwords of corporate operations. Now, with companies facing ever more demanding customers and tougher competition, ongoing operational performance improvement has become a strategic imperative.
All companies wish they could produce exactly what customers want when they want it. The ability to be that precise would not only delight customers but reduce costs. The challenges, however, are formidable, and most companies settle for manufacturing standard products in bulk, guided by long-term forecasts.
As the holiday season drew near, e-commerce retailers were either working anxiously to get their in-house processes ready or were double-checking with partners and service providers on order-fulfillment operations. Fears of revisiting the previous year’s fulfillment problems hounded them during their preparations for the projected high sales of Christmas 2000.1
Is quality objective or subjective? Is it timeless or socially determined? David A. Garvin of the Harvard Business School looks at five major approaches to defining quality and addresses the empirical relationships between quality and variables such as price, advertising, market share, cost and profitability. “These distinctions are more than just theoretical niceties,” he writes. “They are the key to using quality as a competitive weapon.”
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