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Dear Learn & Perform Subscriber

There were several issues that kind of captivated me. The Presidential debate between President Obama and his challenger, how are organisations managing the growth agenda and finally the key challenge of understanding your customers and profiting from it? And, now to October E news.

  • The Presidential Debate
  • Managing the Growth Agenda
  • Understanding your Customers
  • SMR News

The Presidential Debate
I am a great fan of President Obama but I was disappointed just as many of his supporters who thought he could have done better in the debate. He appeared tired, unprepared and trying to look Presidential in a street fight. The great communication skill was absent that night and as he rightfully said, he had a bad night but he will be back for the next one. I am sure he will be back in the next debate to make up for the first one. I watched Joe Biden and the challenger Ryan debate and Biden was himself. He was prepared, powerful, and articulate and right to the point. The learning point, I guess, you just have to be prepared. And, another critical point the public is really concerned about job creation. With the Jobs numbers being positive, I think President Obama will prevail and secure a second term.

Managing the Growth Agenda
Issues such as maturing markets and commoditisation are worrying top leaders. There are many reasons: globalization, maturing technologies, easy to copy, minimal entry barriers, power of customers and suppliers. Some organisations such as Dell has a cost advantage and the power of a direct to you model that ensures they get the money in before they ship a product. They are able to leverage on the cost of capital and ensure greater returns on capital. However, most others do not have this advantage and they start feeling the challenge of the price competition.  In such competitive and commoditized markets, thinking about growing the revenue and margins is a huge challenge. The key to avoid getting stuck in the middle is to GROW but in a sustained and profitable way. Whether it is top line growth or costs management, the focus has to remain on profitability. To do so, there is a need to be different. Innovation, customer service relationships and bundling of products and services into solutions are critical. How do we find new ways to make, do or sell?  

Visit and review article R0407K.

Understanding your customers
I know that top speakers talk about customer service excellence. Nevertheless, the book Uncommon Service by Frances Frei and Anne Morris goes beyond the simple day to day messages by taking a different path and  through answering the question – How to Win by putting customers at the core of your business? This fresh view of service, essential to avoid exhausted mediocrity presents an organisational design model built on tough choices that can be made based on four dimensions:

  • How do your customers define excellence in your offering?
  • How will you get paid for delivering excellence?
  • How will you prepare your employees to deliver excellence every day?
  • How will you get your customers to behave in ways that improve their service excellence without disrupting others?

Visit for more details.

In the process of sustainable profitable growth and delivering service excellence, doing a customer portfolio analysis becomes essential. The four often identified are:

  1. Premium customers – ones who push you to product innovation and long term relationships that demand a relationship based selling approach, willing to pay a high price and difficult to serve;
  2. Uninformed customers – relationship based, those who are logical and upset with competition and aware there may be some switching costs, willing to pay a high price and easy to serve;
  3. Shoppers – ones who look for a core product, these are commodity shoppers, while easy to serve, they are the ones who look for the lowest prices;
  4. Strategic Accounts – ones who look for the lowest price yet the most difficult to serve, they probably are just one third of your customer base but take up 66% of your time. Unless they add some reputational value, these are the ones who need to be eliminated from the customer base. They are the ones who do what is known as scope creep, adding things to the original scope and demanding they be done at no extra cost.

This is not a static analysis but one that we need to do regularly to see the movement of the customer base and prepare the employees to deliver excellent service.

SMR News
As we get to the end of the year, this will be appraisal time. For Leadership assessments and E Appraisals delivered on a Software as a Service model (SaaS), please email

Grace and team have the details of Trainers Meet Trainers, Malaysia. The one day workshops and the one day conference are back to the original format. Anyone in people development will find this an extraordinary value. For more details please email

The Asia HRD Awards nominations are now open. For more details please email

Do visit to review and have access to my books on line at Have a good month ahead, will be in touch in mid-November.


With best wishes,


29 - 31 October 2012
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