When we ranked the Top 10 Events of FingerTec in 2010 in the recent newsletter, most of them are tangibly measurable. But to me, the silent revolution that successfully took place in the company, which I couldn’t phrase it in any official milestone document should be more worthy to report.
I would like to start my explanation with this idiom, If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. It taught us if things do not change the way you want them to, you must adjust to the way they are. This is something about reverse thinking that leads to a reverse operation that yields a positive result.
What I want to convey here is that, when you think differently, act against all odds, the pay-off might be much higher than the conventional way.
The conventional and common practices that most businesses have include having sales people running around chasing customers, whereas technical guys would passively wait for customers’ calls.
If I were to ask, “Why don't we do it the other way around?” I'm sure to get this rebuke, “You mean the technical guys would go out chasing customers and the sales people could sit back and relax? Are you out of your mind? Now you really want the mountain to come to Mohammed.”
Why not? I'd insist adamantly, “Most people loathe spam mails, why should I act one like a Chinese company? If we have agreed on permission marketing, we'd need to get a ‘yes’ from them first.” And we often heard this complaint, “To conclude sales, they'd come anytime even at midnight; but come to after-sales services, they’re nowhere to be seen.”
Could I reverse the common business practice? This would make the technical department plays a more active role, and the sales department be a little laidback and less aggressive when it comes to pursuing customers. “Less aggressive? Without a sales quota, of course your sales department is too relaxed.” One of my business friends strongly opposing me.
To transform supposedly passive technical guys to be more proactive was not an easy task.
The silent-revolution took me quite some years. Now, our technical department has been trained to promptly respond to all technical inquiries; has to ensure the offered solutions really solve problems; has to categorize type of technical issues for further analysis; has to gather customers’ requirements for further developments; has to work closely with R&D in fixing software bugs; has to compile technical tips for monthly newsletter; has to provide assistance in producing user and technical video clips; has to maintain two technical microsites, and help in another six; has to repair hardwares and, all in all, has to upgrade the service quality from time to time to a higher customer care level, rather than to stay merely at the problem-solving stage.
When I slowly reversed the business strategies and operations in 2005, it naturally occurred to me that this should be the right way for any ethical business practice, not the familiar one that has long been distorted by the shortsighted businessmen.
By reversing the priority, it seems a lot easier for us to build a satisfied and devoted customer base. And instead of trying hard to look for new customers, we often attracted them to come to us. The sales figure grew by 575% in the past six years (95.8% per annum in average) proved that my strategy was working fine and it matches well with the Blue Ocean Strategy that promotes “demand is created rather than fought over”.
The cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy is “value innovation”. A blue ocean is created when a company achieves value innovation that creates value simultaneously for both customer and the company.
Yes, the mountain finally came to us.
by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ