Winning the war for customers

Posted on February 14, 2005 
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By Lim Beng Choon

Keeping customers delighted in any business today requires fresh thinking and approaches.

To me, Suria KLCC is a world class, high-performance example. Aside from the customary festive decorations, Suria rigorously gets tenants to renew their storefronts regularly and rotates store locations to give the mall a fresh look all year round. Even the fstalls in the food courts stalls are constantly monitored and upgraded.

The same thing goes for high-performance businesses: they need to find new and innovative ways to keep customers coming back.

Two different Accenture studies show that there are strong links between innovation and sustained business performance. We found that companies such as Nokia, Samsung, Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Dell and IKEA, which continued to innovate even through downturns in the 1990s, were best positioned for success in the upturns that followed.

These companies were obsessed with winning the battle for the customer.

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Boosting human capabilities

Posted on January 17, 2005 
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By Lim Beng Choon

I purchased a new car  in which I discovered a small part of the steering wheel missing.  After waiting a few months for the part to arrive,  I made an appointment with the service center and was told it would take “only 15 minutes” to fix the problem.

Yet, I was made to wait for 45 minutes. Apparently, the service engineer who ordered the part was on leave and the part couldn’t be located. After they finally found it, the fixing took another 30 minutes.

How often have we encountered situations where the service levels are only as good as the personnel assisting you at that moment? Service levels drop when individuals leave or are taken ill  New employees end up learning the hard way from tough customers.

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Investing to capture value

Posted on December 20, 2004 
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INVESTING IN IT TO CAPTURE VALUE

In today’s competitive business climate, IT investments have fallen to budgetary concerns. But in fact, investing in IT now, more than ever, can create value for the future.

By Lim Beng Choon

I have a bone to pick with my previous bank. After moving house, the bank continued to send my statements to my old address despite repeated attempts to inform them of the change. Several letters and phone calls later, I moved house again—but the bank continued to send my statements to the old address.

There was only one thing to do. Close my account and move my business elsewhere.

How many of us have similar frustrations with our financial institutions?

Is this a case of technology gone awry? I beg to differ. It is easy to blame technology as the scapegoat. My previous bank is in the same boat as other  institutions and businesses across the country. The crux of the issue is acquiring the mindset to make IT investments part of building new business capabilities.

Successful IT projects have strong ownership under key business leaders and are a critical part of differentiating one business from another.

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Staying on top of the game

Posted on October 4, 2004 
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HIGH PERFORMANCE AND THE CONNECTED CORPORATION
By Lim Beng Choon

Accenture’s country MD kicks off his monthly column by defining the concept of the connected corporation and embracing it to deliver high performance

What differentiates a company from its rivals and how does it sustain growth in the long-term? Accenture believes the answer is in enabling high-performance and continuously challenging the norms once you get there. Several findings from our nine-month research in this area have been applied to help companies and government agencies globally.

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Off balance: Police Segways faulty, says maker

Posted on October 4, 2003 
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By Julian Matthews

04 October 2003

YES, they need fixing, and someone’s on the way to do it.

Self-balancing scooter company Segway LLC is flying in technicians to fix the Singapore Police Force’s four faulty Segway Human Transporters (HTs).

The Singapore police confirmed yesterday that the machines they bought for US$20,600 ($35,500) for trials in June - and seen in Changi airport - were among the models affected by a global recall announced last week.

Said police spokesman ASP Stanley Norbert: ‘Technicians from Segway will be arriving in Singapore within a fortnight to upgrade the machines’ software.’

He added that there was no incident of officers falling off the two-wheeled, motorised machines due to low battery levels during the trials.

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Focus on services, says Acer’s Shih

Posted on September 5, 2003 
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by Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR: Acer cofounder Datuk Dr Stan Shih advises Malaysia to focus on services in order to get ahead of the curve and compete in a globalised economy.

He said thinning margins in hardware manufacturing and the rise of China as the “factory of the world” has left manufacturing-dependent countries like Malaysia with little choice.

“The services industry is the next wave in economic development. In advanced countries, the services sector comprises two-thirds of their economies. There are higher returns and more opportunities in services.

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Book review: Jeremy Rifkin: Still relevant … perhaps more so

Posted on August 19, 2003 
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BY ANITA MATTHEWS

How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Capitalism
Written by Jeremy Rifkin
Publisher: Penguin (2001)

AUTHOR Jeremy Rifkin’s book titled The Age of Access: How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Capitalism is a bold warning of how society is hurtling happily to a life of “paid experiences.”

Blame it on the forces of globalisation, pervasive technology and the growing culture of instant gratification. But as Rifkin has it, we are apparently warming up and embracing the trend of paying for everything including stuff that can be got for nothing.

The edition that I read was published two years ago, so why pay any attention to a dated version and for that matter, why read this review?

Simply because it is a noteworthy read and a good follow-up to his previous books that included the 1995 bestseller The End of Work, that was on the mark about how technology in use at the workplace will eventually displace jobs.

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Malaysians abroad: Plotting a food path

Posted on August 11, 2003 
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By Anita Matthews

Yougeswari Subramanian literally fled her parents when she moved to New Zealand in 1991. Her husband Vijay had joined his sibling in Auckland in November 1987 when Vijay’s business venture fell through. “My five-month-old daughter Santhiya and I moved back to my parents home in Buntong,” said the 42-year-old mother of two.

Moving home brought back embittered childhood memories where Youges, the sixth of seven siblings, was forced to cook and clean in her family home. Having lost an older sister, Youges became the only daughter and indirectly burdened with housework. “Even as a 12-year-old I had learn how to budget the weekly expenses, buy groceries for the week and cook meals daily. I could not understand why my mother made me do all these things and felt that life dealt me a bitter blow at such a young age,” she recalled.
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Malaysians abroad: Helping troubled children

Posted on July 14, 2003 
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By Anita Matthews

PSYCHOLOGIST Lim Eng Leong remembers his late father’s advice well. “My father always said that in whatever we do, to do it to our best and pursue it to the highest,” recalled the 42-year-old former secondary school teacher.


Coming from a middle class family, the Kuala-Lumpur born Lim could have easily followed his father into the legal world but opted to teach upon receiving his bachelor degree from University Sains Malaysia in 1984. He spent 10 memorable years teaching at secondary schools in rural parts of Selangor that also included a stint at a Petaling Jaya suburb. Yet Lim felt he was not doing enough.

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Homeschoolers wary of virtual classes

Posted on June 6, 2003 
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By Anita Matthews

Homeschooling parents in the United States now have the choice of sending their children to kindergarten and primary schools in cyberspace, courtesy of programmes initiated by the states and private entities.

Some have embraced it; others are questioning it.

In New Zealand, Homeschooling Federation founder Claire Aumonier is wary of ceding the entire learning experience of a toddler or young child to the computer.

“I don’t see virtual schools inundating homeschoolers but I do see the Government leaning towards it because they are cheaper,” she says.

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