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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2007

Terry R. Bacon

This article describes the successful application of behavioral differentiation in transforming the culture of a large engineering‐oriented company as it strived to become…

Abstract

Purpose

This article describes the successful application of behavioral differentiation in transforming the culture of a large engineering‐oriented company as it strived to become more customer‐centric.

Design/methodology/approach

Customer satisfaction surveys and interviews indicated that the company was difficult to work with and not customer‐focused. Subsequent benchmarking included an employee engagement survey, Lore's Behavioral Differentiation Survey, and the Denison Cultural Survey.

Findings

The results, which showed significant disagreement between internal and customer perceptions of the issues, indicated that the company had six behavioral improvement areas to focus on: customer relationship management, communication, execution‐related behaviors, information sharing, customer success, and organizational alignment.

Research limitations/implications

The cultural change initiative is ongoing, and further research is needed to identify the strength, effectiveness, and durability of the behavioral changes.

Practical implications

However, early anecdotal evidence shows that the company is transforming not only its behavior toward customers but customer perceptions of the company and, more importantly, the company is winning new business as a result of its behavioral changes.

Originality/value

This article illustrates one of the first attempts by a large company to transform its culture by focusing on behavioral differentiation. In businesses that are becoming increasingly commoditized, behavior is usually the final frontier in competitive strategy. The article will be of interest to any firms seeking large‐scale transformation of how employees behave toward customers.

Details

Business Strategy Series, vol. 8 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-5637

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Terry Bacon

Global competition has created an endless cycle of innovation and imitation among companies striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Increasingly, the…

Abstract

Global competition has created an endless cycle of innovation and imitation among companies striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Increasingly, the traditional sources of differentiation, such as product uniqueness, are not sustainable enough to create sufficient competitive advantage. So some of the most successful companies today are using behavior to differentiate themselves in their markets. Behavioral differentiation is more difficult to copy, even when competitors know what you are doing, because differentiating yourself behaviorally requires more skill and will than many companies have. Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines, Horst Schultze at Ritz‐Carlton, George Zimmer at Men’s Wearhouse, and Sam Walton at Wal‐Mart understood that they could attract and retain customers by creating significantly positive experiences – and it starts with treating their own employees well. These business leaders succeeded in part because they understood the powerful effect their employees’ behavior has on customers’ experiences with their companies. Positive behavior is attractive. Behavior that is significantly negative also differentiates, but it has a repulsive effect on customers. Three forces drive behavioral differentiation: leadership, culture, and processes. Companies that excel at behavioral differentiation, including Harley‐Davidson and Xilinx, have leaders who set a powerful behavioral example and understand the role behavior plays in business strategy. These companies also have strong cultures of differentiated treatment toward employees as well as customers. Finally, they have processes in place that help them operationalize superior behavior. Behavioral differentiation offers a significant advantage to companies whose products and services have become commoditized in today’s tough markets.

Details

Handbook of Business Strategy, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1077-5730

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2004

Terry Bacon

Behavior has been a potent differentiator for such industry‐leading companies as Ritz‐Carlton, Marshall Field’s, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, SAS, Xilinx, Volvo Cars…

Abstract

Behavior has been a potent differentiator for such industry‐leading companies as Ritz‐Carlton, Marshall Field’s, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, SAS, Xilinx, Volvo Cars, and Harley‐Davidson. Beyond customer service, however, many companies fail to consider behavior an element of their business strategy. Behavioral differentiation (BD) is particularly important when a company’s competitors offer essentially the same products and services at similar prices. A company’s behaviors can differentiate both positively and negatively, but negative differentiators have about five times the impact of positive differentiators. Consequently, companies should manage their behavior toward customers at every point where customers interact with anyone in the company. Companies can behaviorally differentiate themselves in four ways. (1) Operational BD occurs when they make exceptional customer treatment part of the way they normally do business. Operationalizing the behaviors customers experience as significantly positive enables companies to create systematic and sustained competitive advantage. (2) Interpersonal BD cannot be systematized because it depends on each employee’s emotional intelligence and interpersonal skill. However, companies can hire for high emotional intelligence, can set expectations about how customers are greeted and treated, and can ensure that their most interpersonally adept employees are assigned to important, high‐frequency customer touchpoints. (3) Exceptional BD occurs when companies allow employees to “break the rules” and do exceptional things for customers in need of exceptional treatment. Beyond creating the conditions that permit exceptional BD, companies should make heroes of employees whose exceptional behavior has surprised and delighted customers. Finally, (4) symbolic BD occurs when companies walk the talk, when their behavior reflects their mission, mottos, and other messages. Few companies are as accomplished at this than Harley‐Davidson. You are on stage with your customers all the time, and they are constantly comparing you and your behavior to your competitors and their behaviors, and you are how you behave.

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Abstract

Details

Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-495-0

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2003

Terry R. Bacon

The purpose of coaching is to help people change, but real change is difficult for most adults. Of the two approaches to coaching – directive and nondirective – the latter…

Abstract

The purpose of coaching is to help people change, but real change is difficult for most adults. Of the two approaches to coaching – directive and nondirective – the latter is more effective in helping people change, and it is what most coachees prefer. In nondirective coaching, coaches primarily ask questions, listen, and act as thought partners. To guide people through change, coaches need to ask questions that raise coachees’ awareness of the need for change, build a sense of urgency, get coachees to make the decision to change, problem solve around what change will mean, and then get coachees to commit to action. Finally, coaches must reinforce the change to help make it permanent.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 35 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2005

John Osburn, PhD, Richard Stock and PhD

Aims to assess the effectiveness of arts‐based learning for technical trainees.

Abstract

Purpose

Aims to assess the effectiveness of arts‐based learning for technical trainees.

Design/methodology/approach

Considers the CONNECT Program in the Engineering School of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The Program has been running since 1997.

Findings

Communicating with an audience is essentially a social skill, behavioral in basis, a fact that becomes all too apparent when one's audience has a divergent set of expectations. Failing to meet an audience's expectations opens up what is called an “audience gap.”

Originality/value

Of value to anyone, particularly technical personnel and trainers, interested in closing the audience gap and learning how to communicate effectively with those with a less technical background, be they internal or external customers.

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Consider these accolades: 14 properties in the Top 100 World’s Best Hotels; award for the first ever AAA five‐diamond rating; top honors award from Travel + Leisure every…

Abstract

Consider these accolades: 14 properties in the Top 100 World’s Best Hotels; award for the first ever AAA five‐diamond rating; top honors award from Travel + Leisure every year since 1997; and most important of all, clear leader from 16,000 travelers’ votes for the hotel chain with the best service. Obviously, when the Ritz‐Carlton hotel company says “We sell service” it is more than just a catchy sound bite. In fact, selling service is something that every member of the organization’s work force takes very seriously indeed. As a result, Ritz‐Carlton is the only company in the service category to have won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice. Unsurprisingly, customers come back.

Details

Strategic Direction, vol. 20 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0258-0543

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 August 2004

Abstract

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

Michael Lenza

Argues that Humphrey’s tearoom trade study, misinforms readers as much as it informs, regarding moral and ethical foundations for research with human subjects. States that…

Abstract

Argues that Humphrey’s tearoom trade study, misinforms readers as much as it informs, regarding moral and ethical foundations for research with human subjects. States that Humphrey’s tearoom study made significant positive contributions to the population he studied. Concludes that few studies in sociology have accomplished as much in a single work.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 24 no. 3/4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 11 December 2007

Renee R. Anspach and Sydney A. Halpern

Let us return to Nancy Cruzan's story. Hopeful that Nancy would eventually recover, her parents, Lester and Joyce Cruzan, agreed to have doctors insert a feeding tube to…

Abstract

Let us return to Nancy Cruzan's story. Hopeful that Nancy would eventually recover, her parents, Lester and Joyce Cruzan, agreed to have doctors insert a feeding tube to deliver artificial hydration and nutrition – a decision they would one day regret. Although the Cruzans visited frequently, Nancy was unable to respond to their attention. After four years had elapsed, the Cruzans concluded that Nancy would never regain consciousness and should be allowed to die.

Details

Bioethical Issues, Sociological Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1438-6

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