Developing your business. Part II: Product/service development
For business development to be successful we need to be clear about what it is, namely a consistent, considered approach to improving business growth through profits, product/service potential and production. In part I we looked at sales, and today we look at approaches to product/service development.
Improving and refining
Talk product development and the first thought is often the introduction of something new to your market falling straight into the jigsaw trap- lots of people start them extremely enthusiastically but it’s only the dedicated that completes that tricky jigsaw with its thousands of pieces. Refining and improving existing services can often be a great source of growth and can aid development of sustainable competitive advantage. As a rule of thumb, don’t attempt to introduce a new service/product until the current ones and in the best shape possible and this means canvassing customer and potential customer opinion. Find out what works for customers and what doesn’t, analysing customer feedback and complaints is a good starting point.
Delivery of services
One of the most sustainable means of long term competitive advantage comes through improving service delivery which in most cases comes down to those that are delivering your service. Staff development plans should focus on addressing individual skill shortages looking at aspects such as communication skills, customer service aptitude, handling complaints, and telephone skills. In reality, consistency in service delivery is one of the most difficult objectives to achieve as human to human interactions are bombarded by emotions, attitudes, opinions and even forces that originate externally to the service delivery. Say, the customer is running late for a meeting and is overly snappy, the advisor is still smarting from the unjust treatment of the previous customer as they go to serve the next. Equipping staff with the tools to deal with these type of situations and more gives them confidence and poise in service delivery.
Of course, maintaining strong service delivery means not letting your eye off the ball, but when you feel the ball is in safe hands you can move onto the introduction of something new; perhaps a new collection or collaboration on a product or the introduction of an afternoon tea service. The important thing to be clear about is the benefit of the new service/product to your customers. In luxury for example, as the parameters for what is considered to be luxurious change due to acquisition and culture, the new, exciting and unique is always desirable, making a collection with an in demand designer eminently desirable. This is a strategy employed by online luxury fashion destination Net-a-Porter such as with their May 2016 collaboration with Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele. Additionally, the new service may also work from a business perspective, as with afternoon tea dealing with excess hotel/restaurant capacity at a certain time.
We’ve considered business development from the perspective of products and services, next time we will look at increasing production.
About the author
Paul Russell is co-founder and director of Luxury Academy London, www.luxuryacademy.co.uk, a multi-national private training company with offices in London, Delhi and Visakhapatnam. Luxury Academy London specialise in leadership, communication and business etiquette training for companies and private clients across a wide range of sectors. Prior to founding Luxury Academy London, Paul worked in senior leadership roles across Europe, United States, Middle East and Asia. A dynamic trainer and seminar leader, Paul has designed and taught courses, workshops and seminars worldwide on a wide variety of soft skills.