Running head: PROBLEM SOLUTION: SMITH SYSTEMS CONSULTING Problem Solution: Smith Systems Consulting University of Phoenix Problem Solution: Smith Systems Consulting What is a strategy and why is necessary to have one? A strategy can be simply defined as a long term action plan for achieving a goal (InvestorWords. com, n. d. , n. p. ). Strategies are an integral part in the success of any company and are key in a company’s overall ability to accelerate its sales, gain market leadership, and really power up its revenue growth (Rowe, 2010, n.
. ). In other words without a strategically developed strategy a company can not attain its future goals and objectives. Smith Systems Consulting (SSC) is lacking a solid strategy which is needed to maintain company success. Founded in 1984 by Blair Smith, SSC has grown to become a major consulting company, which has locations in numerous states. Currently the company is facing many issues including the retirement of the CEO, branding, the management of records, marketing, and the understanding of customer buying behaviors.
With the issues the company faces it has become evident that there is a need for a strategy that will bring the company into a more competitive stance. Using the 9-Step Decision Making Model, this paper will use problem-solving techniques to identify the issues and opportunities as well as examine the concepts and strategies necessary to upgrade the company. Situation Analysis Issue and Opportunity Identification Smith Systems Consulting is lacking a solid strategy needed for customer retention and acquisition and how to more accurately address their client’s wants and needs.
Customer retention is an intangible asset and satisfied customers equate a strong and financially sound company. The company must define their customers and create a marketing mix that satisfies customers as well as help the company develop new contacts and clients. The company has seen success under the direction of Sam Smith, the CEO, but they have failed to keep records of profitability as well as the success of their products and services. Appropriate record keeping allows a company to make changes to their products and services that are not successful as well as aids in the development of new products and services.
Through the use of records each department as well as the executives can identify ideas that will improve the company’s profitability. The company can also identify products and services that have not been as profitable and tweak them to make them more profitable. SSC has also seen a rise in competition from larger companies, while they maintain to be a smaller company and more in tune to the customer wants and needs. With this rise in competition, Smith Systems Consulting must set themselves apart from their competitors through the use of branding, a marketing strategy, relationship and referral building, and marketing communications.
They must also continue to exhibit competitive prices in order to maintain their current clients business and gain referrals. Lastly the company is going to soon see a change in leadership with the looming retirement of their CEO. The company is approaching a very crucial time where a highly developed strategy will help them continue to be successful. There is a lack of succession planning and the CEO wants to leave the company in the hands of someone who can aid in the development of new clients, the retention of old ones, and continue the success that he has created. Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas A firm’s stakeholders are the individuals, groups, or other organizations that are affected by and also affect the firm’s decisions and actions” (Advameg, Inc. , 2010, n. p. ). Every situation that arises in an organization involves different stakeholders and each group has their own interests, rights, and values. The CEO, Sam Smith, has an interest in his company and its success, but feels that all customers should not be treated the same. With his retirement looming and the need for a strategic plan to acquire and retain clients making drastic change to the way they treat clients could be detrimental.
It is not only unfair but could create additional problems for the company if they proceed with treating clients differently. Each of the executives and managers of Smith Systems Consulting are all on a different level of thinking but value their position within the company and their jobs as well as the effectiveness and success of their department. The Director of Marketing holds the belief that they need to evaluate the marketplace, trends of the industry, and their competitors while the Finance and Accounting Manager feels the company needs to focus on profitability prior to service.
The Customer Service Managers of customer service and sales have competing values and interests in the company. Although they both have interest in the success of the company one wants to focus on retaining existing clients while the other wants to focus on seeking out ne accounts and delving deeper into existing accounts. While both of these aspects are important in the success of a company they must find a way to accomplish both to maintain success by working together. Regardless of the stakeholder the belief holds still that the company’s success is the most important and the company may suffer with the retirement of the CEO.
The Smith Systems Consulting stakeholders must find a way to work together to both acquire new customers and retain old ones while the CEO, whom holds excellent relationships with many clients, takes a back seat in the assistance and service of clients. Differences in stakeholder interests, values and goals can lead to conflict. “Management decision making is often characterized by conflict over opposing goals, utilization of scarce resources, or priorities. To ensure that the implementation of the decision will go smoothly, effective managers must consider many different stakeholders,” (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002, p. ). Problem Statement Smith Systems Consulting will attain the highest degree customer acquisition and retention by developing and implementing a strategy built around strong marketing principles. End-State Vision When the company truly reaches the opportunity stated – attaining the highest degree of customer acquisition and retention by developing and implementing a strategy built around strong marketing principles– Smith Systems Consulting will have gained a mutually beneficial relationships with all clients as well as a highly recognized brand which will lead to verall corporate success. Alternative Solutions Generic and competitive benchmarking brought to light several alternative approaches Riordan Manufacturing can implement to support their desire to become a successful global company and attain their future long-term goals (University of Phoenix, n. d. ). “Coca-Cola is the most popular and biggest selling soft drink in history, as well as the best known product in the world” (The Coca-Cola Company, 2009, n. p. ). The Coca-Cola Company has created strong brand awareness where the name is synonymous with the word soft drink. There is little that distinguishes Coca-Cola from it’s competitors in the way of taste, but people all over the world are more than conscious of the Coca-Cola brand in terms of image and name” (Investopedia, 2010, n. p. ). Smith Systems Consulting must develop a branding strategy that will help give them an edge against their competitors as well as make them known in the industry. Google, a very non-traditional company, has exceeded expectations when it comes to customer value and abides by several principles that are extremely important when dealing with customers (Stirtz, 2010).
These principles consist of openness and honesty about their company, whether positive or negative, offering a wide range of products and services that satisfy the wants and needs of all clients including prospective ones, and finally the engagement of customers. By following these principles of customer value Smith Systems Consulting can gain mutually respected relationships with all clients as well as allowing their clients to feel as though their business is truly appreciated. With a rise in competition, Apple Computers needed to gain a competitive advantage in the computer industry.
Through the development of lightweight user friendly products and the creation of customer value Apple has been able to gain an advantage over their competitors. Smith Systems Consulting can gain a competitive advantage through the development of very easy to use products and services that are wanted and needed by customers. Having an edge over competition in the web and business application industry would be a huge boost to the success of the organization. JCPenny, a leading retailer and catalog retailer has always struggled with evaluating business marketing trends.
With a great deal of competition, JCPenny realized there was a need to not only understand marketing trends but evolve to meet the business marketing trends that exist. Through careful and thought out planning and store to store evaluation the company has been able to tailor their marketing activities to trends as a result of different environments. Smith Systems Consulting can gain a better perspective on marketing trends by evaluating the environments they are operating in as well as the customers they are marketing to.
Analysis of Alternative Solutions The only alternative that would allow Smith Systems Consulting to attain all of their end-state goals or at least begin to work towards them would be to create a branding strategy. By creating brand awareness the company will not only gain a marketing strategy but also create the face of the company. This alternative carries the highest weight because it either helps to attain or accomplishes the end state goals of the organization.
Through the creation of a brand or trademark the company will gain customers and can continue to market to existing clients, they will also be able to create a strategy surrounding the brand awareness that will allow the company to continue to evolve. The development of brand awareness is crucial to the success of any organization. It creates a trademark so the company is fresh in the minds of both their current customer and prospective ones. Through the development of brand awareness the company should have no problem with retaining current customers and acquiring new ones.
Once the brand is designed a strategy can be developed and implemented that will foster relationships and marketing communications between the sales and marketing departments and clients. Risk Assessment and Mitigation Techniques Billington (1997) describes three categories of risk including risk as hazard, risk as uncertainty and risk as opportunity. The first two categories focus on the negative side of risk whereas the third focuses on the positive side of risk and stresses innovative approaches. Billington (1997) says, “Taking too little risk can be as much a management failure as taking too much,” (p. 4).
Relying too much on sophisticated tools and checklists can lead to greater exposure to negative risks because tools are ‘programmed’ from past experience which may not include that one very important new risk area (Billington, 1997). Given this research, an alternate risk assessment best practice was sought that focuses on risk as opportunity. There are several risks associated with all three alternatives that are ranked the highest in goal attainment; all alternatives have medium to low level risks. Smith Systems Consulting is risking company time and resources for a brand that if not properly developed may fail.
The company is also risking loss of market share to competitors if the brand awareness strategy does not pan out. There is also the possibility of a lack of commitment or agreement in the company branding amongst stakeholders as well as the chance of additional conflicts with any alternative chosen. In gaining continual commitment from all stakeholders, an appropriate plan, and responsibilities clearly stated the company can mitigate the potential risks and conflicts. Optimal Solution The optimal solution chosen for this problem statement would e to create customer value.
When selling any product or service the customer is the most important aspect of your business, ensuing there happiness and satisfaction is of the utmost importance. By gaining customer value a company is able to gage how well there products and services are by gaining the opinions and comments of their customers. A company is also able to gain important information that can be used to make changes to the products and services to improve them. Companies can also gain the information necessary to discover customer’s wants and needs and develop products and services that specifically target those wants and needs.
Through the creation of customer value a marketing strategy can more accurately target customers and help to attain the end state vision and goals of the company. Implementation Plan The implementation plan consists of several steps to ensure its success within a year’s time. The first deliverable would be an information briefing by the CEO who would spell out the changes and plans for the next year. The second deliverable would be the development of a team to create a marketing brand and strategy. This team would be responsible for creating brand awareness, a logo, and catchy phrase to help them to stand out from their competitors.
The next deliverable would be to begin to distribute the marketing and promotional materials. These materials would be to distribute to business that have made use of Smith Systems Consulting’s products and services and business that have not. The marketing and sales department would them call on their book of business regularly to continue to form bonds and build relationships. The following deliverable consists of an executive meeting to cover the strategic marketing of the organization and to implement marketing communications.
This where further steps would be planned for marketing and branding as necessary. These executive meetings would occur monthly to ensure everyone on the company is on the same page and working towards the same goal. Each of the deliverables contributes to the attainment of new clients and the retention of their current customers. Through the use of these executive meetings, marketing materials, and relationship building the company can continue to form bonds with decision makers and continue to succeed creating a brand for themselves. Evaluation of Results
Many times, evaluation of results is a last minute thought rather than a phase built into the plan. “Because meaningful and practical measures are built in, SMART objectives also enable feedback and learning that can keep you on track to success,” (Berry & Thomas, 2008, p. 3). Riordan’s plan will include frequent reviews of employee satisfaction surveys, employee files, and compiled reports to make changes as needed to see continued progress. The SMART goals established will measure success in achieving the end state vision of the company. Measurement is only as effective as one’s metrics.
A best practice is to have metrics recorded by an uninvolved party in order to remain unbiased and provide management with the most reliable unfiltered results. In addition, a plan is only as good as its follow-through and follow-up phases. Each employee has the opportunity to review the results of the implementation and provide an evaluation to the appropriate team. Once the strategic marketing plan is implemented evaluation of the results is possible. Smith Systems Consulting has multiple goals that they would like to attain in the future to not only make them successful as a company but also make them more recognizable in the industry.
There would be quarterly meeting of all shareholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing materials and over the success and growth of the company. Also there would be a yearly review of all current clients and prospective clients’ files for progress and sales made which will be measured as to the overall attainment of the new direction and goals of the organization. Lastly would be the yearly satisfaction surveys distributed to all current clients. These would measure their not only their satisfaction but also their needs for additional or special services that could be provided by Smith Systems Consulting.
The company will evaluate each of their customers and target the 5 most profitable to establish deeper and more profitable accounts with. Conclusion Smith Systems Consulting has the opportunity to gain the highest degree of customer acquisition and retention by developing and implementing a strategy built around strong marketing principles. Working through this solution led to some interesting insights. A single problem may have many right answers to a problem. According to the University of Phoenix (2010), there are more areas that are ‘grey’ than ‘black and white’ in formulating the 9 Step approach to problem solving (n. p. . In working through the problem solving approach it is understood that Smith Systems Consulting can succeed if they diversify their marketing practices, keep better records, and develop strong relationship with business owners. In continuing to work towards goals the company has the ability to meet or exceed the expectations they set as well as the expectations of the customers. Knowledge gained from the 9 Step Model, all aspects of marketing, branding, marketing communications, marketing trends, customer value, risk mitigation, conflict management and discerning between symptoms and problems applied to this single problem.
The complexity can be managed with a structured approach to problem solving which, in itself, will serve to mitigate the associated risks of each phase. In taking these steps Smith Systems Consulting can realize the issues, rationally work to resolve them and continue to succeed as a provider of web and business application services. References Advameg, Inc. (2010). Stakeholders. Retrieved March 12, 2010 from, http://www. referenceforbusiness. com/management/Sc-Str/Stakeholders. html Berry, S. , & Thomas, R. (2008). Use SMART objectives to focus goals, plans and performance.
Retrieved September 12, 2008 from: http://www. projectsmart. co. uk/use-smart-objectives-to-focus-goals-plans-and- performance. html Billington, J. (1997). A few things every manager ought to know about risk. Harvard Business Review. New York: McGraw-Hill. University of Phoenix. BusinessDictionary. com. (2010). Macroenvironment. Retrieved March 13, 2010 from, http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/macro-environment. html Gomez-Mejia, L. R. & Balkin, D. B. (2002). Management (1st ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill. Investopedia. com. (2010). Brand Awareness. Retrieved March 4, 2010 from, ttp://www. investopedia. com/terms/b/brandawareness. asp InvestorWords. com. (n. d. ). Strategy. Retrieved on March 11, 2009 from, http://www. investorwords. com/4775/strategy. html Kerin, R. A. , Hartley, S. W. , Berkowitz, E. N. , & Rudelius, W. , (2006). Marketing. (8th ed). The McGraw-Hill Companies. Retrieved from University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Kotler & Keller. (2006). Marketing Management. (12th ed). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, Inc. Retrieved from University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Rowe, A. (2006, January 13). The Importance of Corporate Strategy.
Retrieved March 11, 2010, from http://ezinearticles. com/? The-Importance-of-Corporate-Strategy=127898 Stirtz, K. (2010). Google’s strength is offering value, engaging customers. Retrieved on March 4, 2010 from, http://amazingserviceguy. com/2819/google-offers-value/ The Coca-Cola Company. (2009). Product Descriptions. Retrieved March 4, 2010from, http://www. virtualvender. coca-cola. com/ft/index. jsp University of Phoenix. (2010). Smith Systems Consulting Scenario. Retrieved March 11, 2010 from University of Phoenix, rEsource, MMPBL580—Marketing Management Web site.
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