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What to do in tough times

By Phil Verghis on August 15, 2008

From the August 2008  Verghis View newsletter (sign up from home page)

With many economies around the world sputtering, most of you are helping prop up balance sheets by slashing discretionary spending, renegotiating contracts and putting off purchases.In this kind of atmosphere, it is tempting just to make the necessary cuts and hope that you will be spared further scrutiny. Making cuts is always painful. I was part of one of the biggest IPOs in US history (at the time) followed by the dot-com crash and our eventual return to profitability with great margins. Just about anybody can manage during good times. It’s during tough times when the great stand out from the merely competent. Here are a few non-traditional ways you can stand out.

  1. Love your clients and partners! Yup, with few exceptions, most of your clients and partners are under the same pressures you are. Everywhere they look, they, too, are being hit by reduced services and increased fees – from checking in baggage on planes, to rising food and oil costs, to cost-cutting pressures at work.This is a perfect time to pick up the phone and call or even visit – not just email – your clients and partners and see what you can do for them. Find out how they are being impacted during the downturn. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them succeed in their business. Revisit procedures and policies, offer training. Wouldn’t you like it if someone came to you and offered that kind of help? How many have?
     
  2. One of the most overlooked ways to save money is to take a close look at your recurring costs and standing purchase orders. One of my clients just saved over $250,000 a year in maintenance fees. How? They had inherited a contract from another department, but until they made the time to look at it, they didn’t realize they were paying for equipment and software that hadn’t been on the books for two years. Think about it – where else can you get that kind of savings without significant pain?
     
  3. Be ready for good times. The larger your organization, the more likely ‘use it or lose it’ money will become available at the end of your fiscal year. These funds must be used quickly and will be awarded to those who are prepared. Have you created a prioritized list of what you want and need? Reach out to your suppliers and partners. Give them a heads-up so they’re ready to help when resources free up. Savvy clients and prospects have already reached out to me this way, and they will get a priority in scheduling.
     
  4. One final note: Think big, think bold. If you have been running a support center for many years, you’re probably already running a pretty tight ship. Have you reached a wall in terms of efficiency and productivity gains? Well, this is the perfect time to start planning and implementing dramatic changes in the way you do support. Frankly, most support centers are little more than optimized break-fix centers. What an incredible waste of time for our customers – and a morale-killer for our staffs. Why isn’t most of our time spent working with customers to make them more successful in their business? That’s how to deliver real value.During tough times like these, senior management often looks for dramatic change. Some start with changes to the corporate culture, and take time to get used to. For example, consider getting rid of Level 1/2/3 support models and embracing Savvy Support. This conversion takes time, but pays off in a big way.

There you have it. Quick tips to help you stand out during tough times.

3 continents, 10 flights in 11 days

By Phil Verghis on August 7, 2008

Well I’m off to India via the UK for a mixture of work and vacation. For the travel buffs among you, I’ll get to see the new terminal 5 at Heathrow as well as Bangalore’s brand new airport and also the brand new airport at the up and coming tech hub of Hyderabad.

I’ll let you know how this goes.


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