Listen to part of a lecture in a Business Class.
Ok, as we've talked about, a key aspect of running a successful business is knowing, um, getting a good sense of what the customer actually wants, and how they perceive your product.
So with that in mind, I want to describe a very simple method of researching customer preference, and it is becoming increasingly common, it's called MBWA, which stands for managing by wandering around.
Now, MBWA, that's not the most technical sounding name you've ever heard, but it describes the process pretty accurately.
Here is how it works.
Basically, um, the idea is that business owners or business managers just go out and actually talk to their customers, and learn more about how well the business is serving their needs, and try to see what the customer experiences.
Because that's a great way to discover for yourself how your product is perceived, what the strengths and weaknesses are… you know, how you can improv it that sort of thing, you know Dortans, they make soup and canned vegetables and such.
Well, the head of the company had Dortans' topped executives walk around supermarkets, um, asking shoppers what they thought of Dortans' soups, and he use the data to make changes to the company's product.
I mean, when Dortans of all the companies, embraces something as radical as MBWA, it really show you how popular the theory has become, yes, Lisa?
But isn't it dangerous to base decisions on information from a small sample of people?
Isn't it large-scale market research safer getting data on a lot of people?
That's a good question, and well I don't want to pretend that W... MBWA is some sort of, um, replacement for other methods of customer research.
Market research data definitely can give you a good idea of, um, of the big picture, but MBWA is really useful at kind of filling in the blanks, you know, getting a good on-the-ground sense of how your products are used and how people respond to them, and Yes, the numbers of opinion you get is small, so you do need to be careful.
But, good business managers will tell you that the biggest fear they have, and... and one of the most frequent problems they come across, is, well, becoming out of touch with what their customers really want and need.
You know surveys and market research stuff like that, they can only tell you so much about what the customers actually want in their day-to-day lives.
Managing By Wandering Around, on the other hand, well that gets you in there and gives you a good sense of what customers need.
So when use combination then, MBWA and market research were the powerful tools.
Oh, here is another example for you, um, senior executives for a clothing manufacturer, it was, um ah, Elkin…Elkin jeans, you know? They went and worked in a store for a few days selling Elkin’s clothes.
Now that gave them a very different idea about their product—they saw how people responded to it.
They could go up to customers in the store and ask them questions about it, uh,yes Mike?
Well, I would think that a lot of customers would be bothered by, you know, if I'm shopping, I don't know if I'd want some business representatives coming up to me and asking me questions,
It’s, it’s like when I get phone calls at home from marketing researchers— I just hang up on them.
Oh, well, it's certainly true that well no one likes getting calls at home from market researchers or people like that, but I will tell you something.
Most customers have exact opposite reaction when they comes to MBWA.
Now, don't ask me why, because I really have no idea, but the fact is that customers tend to respond really well to MBWA, which is the key reason for a success.
In fact, the techniques of MBWA work so well, they have actually been extended to all kinds of different contexts ,like politics for instance.
Um, a few years back, the mayor of Baltimore, Um... I think his name was Shapher or something like that…anyway, he decided that the best way to serve the people of the city, of his city was to actually get out there in it and experience the things they experienced.
So he ride around the city in, you know, in all parts of it, and he’d see all the potholes; he’d see how the trash was sometimes, um, not pickup but off side the street, and then he go back to his office and they write these memos.
Now they were memos to his staff about the problems he had seen, and how they needed to be fixed, now, that sort of thing.
But the thing is he got all the information just by going around and seeing the different Botamore neighborhoods and talking to the people in them.
And he called it smart politics, we'd call it MBWA, or just, plain good customer service.