Managing Competing Demands – Customers and Business

“No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others…or failing therein, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist.” – Calvin Coolidge

When running a company it would be obvious that you would be managing competing demands – those of the business versus those of the customers. Companies believe that they are doing a great job in meeting the demands of a customer – a study reveals that at least 80% of the surveyed customers believed that. However, the same study also showed that only 8% customers agreed that companies were meeting their expectations. This gap is what poses difficulties for companies in managing competing demands – of providing the kind of customer experiences that would want them to keep coming back to the company. Only when a company is managing competing demands well and consistently can they achieve optimum profits for the company and gain a loyal and profitable customer base.

When managing competing demands, any company would need to strike a balance between serving the needs and expectations of the customers versus reaching the financial and growth goals of the company. In order to be consistently successful in managing competing demands companies would need to change the way the company has been operating traditionally. While leveraging on accomplishments, companies would also need to alter the culture, ensure that their workforce is aligned to the customer focus thought process, the technology used is updated and all the business operations accommodate the demands of current customer. These changes are required since customers now have far too many options and are not inclined to tolerate incompetence, slovenly service or poor quality offerings. They know what they want and when they want it and it is up to the companies to ensure that they are managing competing demands because companies cannot ignore their own requirements as well.

When companies alter their mind-set and start managing competing demands, they would be equipped to understand their customers better, optimize their existing resources, better manage the various communication channels and the result would be a fine balance between the company’s goals and the demands of the customers. Without putting in place strategies to assist in managing competing demands, the workforce would experience stress and there would be an environment of chaos. People and their leaders would be pulled in conflicting directions – managing the needs of some customers while ignoring others, meeting some team goals while falling short of the overall set of company goals, longer working hours and packed schedules. None of these factors contributes to a healthy work environment and employees soon begin to feel pressured enough to look for opportunities outside. So, what can companies do to ensure that they are managing competing demands? What measures has company put in place?

Every company has its own USP and its customers are in business with it given the value they receive from the unique value proposition of the company. As long as customers receive good service, are able to achieve the goals of their company and increase their revenue, they would remain happy with the company they are in business with. The company on the other hand would be able to gain more business resulting in higher profits and sustainable success. This in turn should translate to a better working environment and compensation for their employees. Managing competing demands therefore is a win-win-win proposition – everyone is happy when ‘the balance’ has been achieved and the company is clear about the value it can bring to its customers, employees and to itself.

When managing competing demands a company must, especially be able to manage and prioritize its resources. It would seem implausible that any company in the current market conditions would have unlimited resources and hence a company would need to judiciously use whatever is available to it. To start with the company must be transparent in their financial matters – when people within the organization are clear about the amount of funds and how they are being used and allocated, there would be less reason for dissention. People would be able to weigh their options rather than be engaged in mindless assumptions and bickering. The company too would have more clarity on how much of these resources should be allocated to which aspect of their business such that the customers and their own needs are not neglected. Ignoring or badly managing any of these demands could prove detrimental for a company.

Clarity of vision and honesty in dealings even within the organization would ensure that each person does what is expected of them. The endeavour would be to work collaboratively such that service and product quality is not compromised on for any reason whatsoever. In doing so teams understand each other better, appreciate diversity and the existing difference, have a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs and demands and would be ready to meet them. When everyone is working towards common goals, managing competing demands would not be too difficult for any company. As customers receive consistently great service and products, they would also contribute towards the success of the company – be willing to understand when things do go wrong, provide constructive feedback, learn to trust the company and speak well of the company to others. It is not an easy task to make both ends of the spectrum meet but given the ever-increasing competition and lowered profit margins, managing competing demands has become more crucial than ever before.

When creating a balance between the business needs versus customer demands, often employees seem neglected. Allowing this to happen and not making amends could prove disastrous. No company can run without its employees or even by having strained relationships with employees. A company must ensure that its policies and internal structure support encouragement, empowerment and a culture of collaboration. When employees feel respected and valued, they are more likely to be dedicated and passionate about their work and more willing to provide stellar service to the company’s customers. People are more amenable to learn from each other, respect the contributions and challenges of their co-workers and would not shy away from going the extra mile when required – thereby creating an environment that is congenial to growth and productivity. Such behaviour shapes a culture where people are not afraid to bring up issues, proactively search for solutions and question things that may not seem right.

When managing competing demands a company must first understand the priorities and demands that could be vying for attention. Only post understanding each of the priorities would they be able to leverage on their strengths, put all in perspective, formulate an action plan and finally brings things under control for better management. It would be imprudent to ignore these base processes – with this as a foundation a company can build its strategies and policies around managing competing demands – those of the customers and their own business. If you look closely, neither can exist in isolation. If a company ignores its own profit margins and employees, it would not remain in business for long. The same would be true if a company were only concerned about its own needs and ignored its customers – dissatisfied customers would soon stop business with the company and let others know about their poor experiences, leading to a drop in prospective customers as well. A company must therefore, find a way to managing competing demands if they expect to remain successful and in business for a long time.

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