Magazine article International Trade Forum

Managing Change in Your Organization

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Managing Change in Your Organization

Article excerpt

Success or failure of a service innovation is linked to two primary factors:

A correct reading of the market and what matters to customers.

Appropriate management of the innovation process.

Principles behind successful innovation

While firms usually give explicit attention to market factors, they are much less likely to attend to the management of the innovation process. Few firms have explicit success measures for innovations. Even fewer have an innovation policy to guide the innovation process. Here are principles essential for managing the innovation process successfully:

Innovative activities should meet customer needs, please shareholders and motivate staff. Innovation delights customers while meeting needs of stakeholders and allowing the company to remain financially viable.

Innovation requires vision to drive the change process. Top management needs to be able to inspire staff towards a single vision or a sense of purpose within which to innovate.

Innovation requires a risktolerant environment where you are not expected always to succeed. When developing new service initiatives, not all ideas will be viable and occasional failure is inevitable. Managers need to provide support for risk-taking and reassurance that creative efforts are recognized whether or not they are successful.

Innovation requires a lifelong learning orientation that involves all members of the organization. Employees need support in seeing their own learning as ongoing, rather than completed at the end of formal schooling.

Innovation requires creative thinking in a diverse, information-rich environment. The creative process requires a great deal of input to stimulate new concepts.

Innovation requires a cross-functional systems perspective for analysing the impact of change and overseeing implementation. Key issues to address Managers of services firms need to be able to address seven issues: reducing the sense of risk; managing the customer interface; training customers; managing staff performance; engaging front-line staff; linking innovation options to the type of service; and using information technology. Reduce the sense of risk A major barrier to innovation adoption is the customers' fear of the risk involved. For services firms, risk is always present: customers never know ahead of time how well the service will be provided. While a service provider may usually perform well, there are always those days when staff are preoccupied with personal issues or simultaneous customer demands outstrip delivery capacity. While customers may find a service innovation intriguing, they may also be concerned that the service firm is less likely to be able to control quality in providing a service with which they are less experienced.

To help reduce the customers' sense of risk in new export markets, try strategies like the following:

Provide a free sample of the service, such as a brief presentation or assessment.

Provide a guarantee that the service is free if the customer is not satisfied.

Target a government department as your first customer (to get its blessing) before approaching the private sector. Manage the customer interface Manufacturers produce their goods away from the customer and so can separate the operational and marketing functions. Not so for services firms. In most instances, customers have some direct interaction with the service production process, whether virtually or in person. The customer's experience of the service process is shaped in large part by the front-line contact staff who perform both as administrative and `marketing' staff.

To improve the customers' experience of your service firm, try strategies like the following: Call your firm from outside your office to see how welcoming initial contact is.

Ensure that telephones can be answered within three rings and customers are not routed through seemingly endless voice message responses. …

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