I once heard a business consultant tell the story of the last dynamite company. When dynamite was surpassed by newer explosives that were lighter, safer and more powerful, all but one dynamite manufacturer left the market. The last dynamite company served as the sole supplier of the explosive with the greatest history of use and effectiveness over the long haul. They held onto 100 percent of the customers who valued dynamite over all other product options, all while having no competition and remaining profitable.
The lesson? Being the last to hold onto what was great, historically, in running a business well can make a company more profitable than its competitors. There are always new ways of conducting business, but those ways are not always better. In fact, the established, “dynamite” business practices often lead to better profits and stronger customer and employee relationships.
The following presents three business practices that may seem old fashioned to some, yet, when maintained as standard operating procedure, will make a company best in class and profit.
1 - Customer service
All generations of business management will agree that customer service is important, but there is a marked difference in how they define it. Customer service, at its root, is the process of taking customers through a buying experience in a manner that provides more than what they expect. The established, or old-fashioned, manner of managing this process required that companies train employees to be so proficient within their specific job duties that they would dazzle the customer. How truthful and accurate advertising was, how customers were greeted at the door or on the phone, how their needs were listened to, how the order would be fulfilled, how the products and services worked and how well companies would stand behind their products and services were all components of great customer service.
By comparison, many in the current generation of management don’t see interpersonal relationships as a significant part of customer service. This can be seen in the automated checkout stands at stores or the difficulty of reaching customer service when there is a problem with a product or service. Scanners and computer-generated messaging have become the plastic explosives, if you will, compared to the old-fashioned, dynamite way of serving the customer. If nothing ever goes wrong, the newer manner of service works, but, problems do arise, making dynamite customer service the real winner.
2 - Communication skills
Communication has changed. Hand written Christmas cards have been replaced with emailed holiday jingles, phone calls with text messages, in-person meetings with teleconferencing. However, dynamite communication—one that relies on interpersonal connections and relating to others—creates a bond between people and a loyalty from customers. Companies are stronger when management chooses dynamite communication.
3 - Relationship management
The final old-fashioned way of conducting business involves relationship management: how employees relate to one another and to their workplace. In the past, many companies created and maintained career opportunities for employees that led to a common feeling of pride and ownership by all ranks of workers. The work environment was managed in a way that sustained the needs of employees and provided opportunities for advancement.
The newer generation of management lives in an environment of mergers and large equity holding groups. This generation of management is often driven strictly by financial gain in the shortest time possible. The result is that many employees suffer from job eliminations, resulting in low morale, loss of employee loyalty and employees who are constantly hunting for new job opportunities. The element of increased automation within the workplace compounds the problem of job elimination.
The dynamite method of employee relationship management requires company leaders to maintain career-based opportunities for workers, applying the best people-based management practices. A company that works to foster strong, loyal employee relationships will remain the most reliable business to customers.