In many places across the world, business leaders were informed by number, chart and table presented in excel sheet or power point on any aspect of the business performance. These data are used to formulate decision & next action. The question is how accurate the data reflect the actual scenario. Are we operate in full trust on paper performance & communication only?
Recently I was informed that the sales performance for this particular product “A” is not good. The number and market data told us that our market share was shrinkage dramatically quarter by quarter. The report claimed that the issue associated with above was due to unavailability of product “A” in the market, the recommendation was to review and improve the distribution channel. It sound logical to solve the issue from distribution perspective to ensure the product is available when customer is looking for it. Is this the real root cause of the issue?
It is also common for business leader to visit the actual site for instance factory. In most cases, the route is known in advance and preparation is done earlier to anticipate the field visit. Clean up job is done before the arrival, so the business leader only sees the good side of the story. The site is clean, well maintained, organized, no complaint and in good shape if the site management is in very powerful position to influence. However, if the site management is weak, the employee will exaggerate their problems too much to business leader during the visit.
Following the growth of the economy, expansion of the business & upgrade of the technology or machine is a process to stay competitive through economic of scale and gain high efficiency in resources usage. But how to ensure the capital expenditure that going to spend on the improvement project is carefully access & evaluate?
Field visit & assessment turn to a very important part of the process.
From sales & marketing perspective, the marketers’ have to constantly conduct market field visit. They need to anchor each difference segment or region to gain field feedback on existing customer and new customer to find out their real need of the product or service. In the other hands, also gather findings regarding the competitor movement, identify their strength & weaknesses in each localize market space.
After the market field visit & interview, the market illustrated other brands have gained higher customer acquisition & penetration rate via aggressive pricing strategy & product differentiation which not so much on the distribution issue.
One of the wise leader during our tour visit to a factory, he told me this “Darrell, you need to discount at least 30% from the today what you see in this tour, we need to use our heart & intuitive gut feel to assess the situation!” Every following excel sheet and power point presentation from the site management to him will appear as propaganda only.
When a CEO or manager or a director actually travels to see the grand reality of the market, which is invariably different from what is revealed in excel sheets and power point presentations in the comfort of the boardroom.
Customers and markets are becoming numbers in a excel sheet when companies are growing larger and larger in size. Along the line that listening to the people real feedback no longer important, as we are becoming more technological dependent, processes, number turned to the daily management tools to craft strategy, decision & action. We are comfort to sit behind the desk and manage several thousand miles away offices or sites without personally there.
I always heard customer service, customer orientation, customer is the one who pay your salary & something like that. It seem to me that the only people who matter are the customers, who sign the deal. A lot of organizations are heavy sided on emphasize the communication with customers are more important than internal employees. Yes customers need is the priority to be met but so do the employees.
What is field trip?
Field trip is a visit to a place outside the regular office which is designed to achieve certain objectives, which cannot be achieved as well by just looking at the hard data presented on paper. For example if the lesson is on “soap production”, and if there is no hand on experience it is very difficult to achieve the objectives of learning & understanding the real issue on the field. In such a lesson this strategy is required. Field trips give opportunity for a leader to get out of the office and experience something new & refreshing. The findings gather from the field shall reconcile with the data on hand to generate insightful action & strategy. The located place for field trip can be anywhere as long as people activities are there which related to your services & products offer i.e. wet markets, factory, schools, plantation, conference, seminar, hospitals & etc. A good field trip ensures a more holistic bird view journey across the corporate hierarchy from top to down.
Yes customers need to be met. They will come to you to ask for services & products with response to your advertisement, promotion, events & something like that. But there are also many customers or consumers who do not come to you. Make sure you meet them also.
Leader, let’s get out from your desk and start to plan for a field visit.
Crucial to any business today is hands-on involvement, showing, not just telling, real assessment and experiments, field visit and interview, not just manage from ‘virtual reality’!