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  • Subject Name : Management

Manage Customer-Centric Innovation Systematically

Introduction to the Organization

The conduction of an external business research can be essential for an organization to understand the customer behaviour, buying patterns, need for changes etc. Not only that, having a business research can help a company identify their public opinion and their customer needs. When conducting such research, the organization must understand certain underlying principles of the research. Having a set of aims and a proper understanding of the information you seek to gain from the research can deeply impact how a particular research is conducted and what is done of the inferences drawn from it. Thus, it is essential that proper planning and execution takes place when conducting research.

The company I’ve chosen for this assessment is Torrid LLC. Torrid LLC is a clothing retail company that was founded in 2001 for women, especially women that seek plus-sized clothing. Currently, Torrid has a stable online presence along with about 600 stores throughout the United States (Torrid 2020). The company not only sells clothes but other accessories that complete the overall outfit of a woman. Currently, though the brand has a stable presence online and offline, there is a need for the brand to understand their specific customer requirements to increase customer satisfaction and improve the profits.

The reason behind choosing this particular company was to explore the difficulties faced by a company that is set a little apart from the norms and to come up with a plan to tackle such difficulties. It is organizations like these that are contributing to the society by breaking stereotypes and thus, I want to do my part in ensuring that the message is reaching as many people as possible. The aim is not only to spread brand awareness but also to gain information from various research techniques and apply the learnt information to the organization.

According to Lara Ewen (2016), plus-sized customers feel like they are not being heard by plus-sized clothing brands. There is a need for such companies and all companies in general, to understand their customer demands, innovation-related demands and the probable demands that the future might hold. Thus, this study is based on discussing various concepts that can be implemented by the organization while conducting business-enhancing research.

Business Enhancements Related to Customers, Innovation and The Future

Business research can offer extremely beneficial and often un-noticeable insights into the minds of the customers and their perception of the brand. Business researches are often conducted by a company when they are not performing to their potential and thus want to gain a specific perspective on how to tackle their problems. More often than not, business research can give a company the answers they were looking for. Wilson (2014) says in his book, “Business research is conducted to gather information to aid business-related decision-making.”

However, it is often not an easy procedure. When conducting research, the organization needs to understand the various concepts associated with it. A set of aims and research methods along with proper strategies and in-depth understanding of various concepts has to be prepared before conducting research. In this paper, we will be looking at certain concepts that can be used by Torrid LLC while conducting business-enhancing research.

There are 3 main areas where understanding the concepts related to researches are essential: Customers, Innovation and the Future. Let’s look at these concepts one at a time:

When a business is looking into enhancement related to the customers and customer base, the concepts highlighted in Selden’s and MacMillan’s article “Manage Customer-Centric Innovation Systemmaticaly”, 2006, can prove to be very useful. The article, though a little old, is still very valuable in understanding some basic concepts in regards to customer behaviour. The article highlights how Customer-Centric Innovation (CCI) aims at understanding who the customers are and what are their needs. This will help the company “meet and exceed the market expectations”. The article states that CCI promotes shifting the expenditure to customer research and development rather than that related to the product. A combination of the defensive and offensive approach is recommended (Selden and MacMillan 2006). So, according to the article, a particular company needs to segment its customers into three parts: the core customers, potential customers and new customers (Selden and MacMillan 2006). They must establish a core customer base and understand their needs. Next, they can increase their products that cater to the needs of the core and at the same time target their potential customers by doing the same. While going on the defensive, a company, like Torrid LLC, needs to study the competitors and probable difficulties that the brand can face. What the article is essentially saying is that the customer comes first and organizations should come up with different strategies to understand their needs and cater to them. This process will not only help them exceed the expectations but also improve the efficiency and employee loyalty within the organization (Selden and MacMillan 2006).

From this article, what we learn is that there is a need for organizations to exactly know the audience they are catering to. Keeping this article in mind, when Torrid LLC decides to research to understand their customers, they can use methods like an online survey from potential customers to understand what exactly they like about the brand and what they don’t. In a company like Torrid, the entire sale depends on the customers and thus it is necessary to focus on their likes and dislikes. The company, once it has fulfilled the requirements of their core customers (plus-sized women), can also consider expanding its customer base by including another demographic of individuals like plus-sized men or customizable accessories in various sizes. This can be achieved by researching amongst the new potential demographic, finding out their direct requirements, and only producing those products. This will enable the company to attract more amount of customers and cater to a spectrum of customers. The “defensive” strategy regarding understanding competitor behaviour is also very interesting and helpful (Selden and MacMillan 2006). Noticing their moves and actions can offer various insights a give a clearer idea to Torrid LLC about the current situation of the market. Clothing has an immense amount of competition and it is useful to keep in touch with what the competitor is up to. The article also points out that customer behaviour is very dynamic and thus brands like Torrid LLC need to stay on top of things and be in sync with the current trends and conduct customer-related researches regularly.

Thus, it is essential that before conducting research, the company knows exactly which segment is being targeted and what information is being chased. It is also important to understand the pattern in such researches and target only a specific section at a time. It will be beneficial for an organization, especially a clothing brand like Torrid, to have a separate set of employees working solely towards customer R&D and maintain constant touch with the core customers to notice any changing patterns in their needs.

Moving ahead to Innovation, it is essential to understand a few concepts before researching the same. Innovation, or coming up with new content, new ideas and new products and services is essential in every sector. The informative video “Innovation 101: Competing against luck”, 2018, that is based on a book written by Clayton Christensen has some very good points regarding the same. The informative session starts with underlining the fact that even though there are a lot of ways to be innovative, the success rate is often unpredictable and depends heavily on luck. It further moves on to say that while innovating, companies need to ask the question “what job are the customers hiring us to do?” (Christensen 2016)

 A company can gain innovation insights by finding the answers to such questions and thus apply innovations to improve a particular experience. The video also mentions the “jobs to be done” theory along with mentioning the 3 basic steps to rely more on the innovation rather than luck: understand the job that needs to be done, chart out the journey taken by a customer and point out the obstacles they face and remove the obstacle using innovation (Christensen 2016).

There are a lot of aspects in this presentation that are highly insightful and useful when planning business research. When a brand like Torrid LLC is preparing for research, they need to find questions that are deeper than “what do you like?” The questions have to be framed in a way to understand what exact function is the brand used to perform. The answers have to be deeper than “just a clothing choice”. The aim of the research has to underline the exact function the customers avail the service for and then thinks of innovative ideas to fulfil that function more efficiently and systematically. A part of Torrid’s customer base could be using it because they find it difficult to find office clothes of their size. Once the company has information about the specifics, they can make certain innovations to make the entire process more convenient and desirable, like for instance, creating a different and wider category for office clothes. The company should refrain from making judgments and innovations on their own and then trying out their luck with them to minimize any chances of failure.

The article “Know your customers: Jobs to be done” by Christensen, Hall, Dillon and Duncan, 2016, defines the concept of the “jobs to be done” theory. The theory talks about the process of understanding the customer choice. It highlights the complex way of understanding the exact customer requirements and the grievances they have with the already existing products. This procedure can help companies identify what exact “job” needs to be done to satisfy the customers. Once the company knows the job that has to be performed, the job has to be performed dutifully (Christensen, Hall, Dillon and Duncan 2016).

Another very important function that is performed by proper business researches is the insights on the future demands and needs related to a particular field or company. When we study the article “Superforecasting: How to upgrade your company’s judgment” by Schoemaker and Tetlock, 2016, we understand this entire process a little better. The article starts by mentioning that companies are generally bad at predicting uncertain events due to various biases and other reasons, and this can have serious implications. The article further moves on to underline a few methods by which future predictions can be made better. One of them is “Training for good judgment” where the authors express their support for learning the basics of judgment, understanding the various cognitive biases and how companies should tailor training programs to overcome any drawbacks (Schoemaker and Tetlock 2016). Another method for making good predictions is building the right kind of team and providing them with a good amount of training that is essential for the role. The team is expected to have a certain amount of trust among them and follow the steps of diverging, evaluating and converging efficiently when making a prediction. Lastly, it is also essential that the performance of every team member is measured and accordingly, timely feedbacks are provided to the team (Schoemaker and Tetlock 2016). Not only the results but also the process used by the team members has to be tracked. The article ends by saying that this procedure is very general and has to be customized depending on the field, the organization and other such factors (Schoemaker and Tetlock 2016).

From understanding this article, many concepts about the future demands become much clearer. We can imbibe knowledge about the process of making predictions and how essential it is to make the right predictions. From this article, it is clear that when making certain predictions demand for a brand or future behaviour of customers, it is essential to collect data from the customers. Along with a heavy volume of data collected via researches and other methods, other valuable information surrounding the topic has to be collected and accordingly inferences are to be drawn.

When a brand like Torrid LLC plans on making a few predictions demands of the customers, the first step will be to appoint a specific team and provide them with an extensive training that helps them make predictions. Next, these team mates must devise proper methods to obtain relevant information from the customers rather than obtaining great volumes of information that might be difficult to process. Since the predictions are going to be based on this information, the information must be precise and organized. Too much data can be tiring and often leads to an uneven result. This stage is very important in the entire process of estimating future needs and thus it is important that proper planning and execution is maintained. Once this step is completed, the team can go ahead and draw inferences. Many processes exist that can help draw such conclusions. It is also essential that this entire process is reviewed to figure out where the hurdles lie every time the process is performed. This will help improve the overall process and make it more efficient.

From all the above findings and concepts that we have looked at, we can understand that business research is an integral activity that should be performed by every company in every sector regularly. Depending on the type of information a company needs (related to customers, innovations, future etc.), different methods on collecting and analyzing data from a research exist. Even though these are different processes there is a fine connection in between all of them. All these bits of data are based on the opinions of the customers and thus it is essential that the proper questions are asked and proper answers are received. The company has to ensure that the customers are being honest and truthful when the research is being conducted. The research also has to be free of any types of discriminations or biases. Not only that, the research method cannot be too time-consuming for the customers and should be very fast and accurate. When done correctly, the inferences drawn from these researches can be very beneficial for a particular company. Just remember, it is important to keep these basic concepts in mind when conducting research.

Reflection on Externally Focused Business Research

If I was asked, “what have you learnt from your school, college and other such courses so far?” I wouldn’t know where to begin. Despite being a relatively inexperienced individual in terms of professional qualifications, I have a lot to offer to any said organization. I have deeply imbibed the various concepts, principles, rules and regulations that have been taught to us at various stages of our lives, especially related to management training. I can positively say that I can add value to an organization with my knowledge of current trends and information about the various techniques used by an organization. I am confident that I have all the essential knowledge that is required for the field of Public Relations in an organization.

Over my years of education, I’ve accumulated a running knowledge of the various parts of an organization: Human Resource, Public Relations, Marketing, admin etc. I understand how all these departments come along to make an organization work. I’ve also gained vast knowledge about the customers and customer behaviour than has many applications in an organization. Not only that, but I am also an innovative individual who has an extensive way of conducting various primary and secondary researches and drawing inferences from them. I have also gained vast information related to the process of making future predictions and ensuring that the predictions have a high success rate.

Apart from that, the various articles I’ve studied have helped me gain a lot of information about customers and innovations related to customers. This information would make me a better and alert employee who can notice the changing patterns amongst customers. My sharp communication skills will also act as an asset when working in the public relations department. I believe in my hard work and efficiency, and the power of knowledge.

When I reflect on the education I have gained, I can understand the various applications these theories will have in real life. And not only the information that I’ve gained; there are also the various ideas of my own that have I regarding the workings of an organization. All these combined make me a great candidate for the field of Public Relations.

I think it is important to understand the underlying principles that make or break an organization. It’s necessary to analyze the workings of an organization and see where we’re going wrong. I think that my skill set with help the organization get a clearer picture of the work and thus add value to the organization.

When I think about working in the Public Relations department of a particular organization, I am positive that I will work hard and implement all the various concepts I’ve learnt in the past. Taking examples from other organizations, I will be able to learn from them and apply them in my situation. When working in PR, it will be my responsibility to keep in touch with the new trends that emerge in between customers and potential customers. At the same time, my job will require me to maintain constant touch with our core customers and ensure that they remain loyal to the brand. I look forward to taking up all these different responsibilities and growing and learning at the same time.

References for Externally Focused Business Research

Christensen, C. M., Hall, T, Dillon, K and Duncan D. S. 2016. Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done”, Harvard Business Review, pp. 54-62.

Ewen, L. 2016. Why plus-size fashion is still struggling with image problems. [Online] Available at https://www.retaildive.com/news/why-plus-size-fashion-is-still-struggling-with-image-problems/419460/ [Accessed on 01/08/2020]

Innovation 101: Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen | Animated Core Message. 2018. [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auedNplxnu8 [Accessed on 01/08/2020]

Schoemaker, P. J. H and Tetlock, P. E. 2016. Superforecasting: How to Upgrade Your Company’s Judgment, Harvard Business Review, pp. 73-78.

Seldon, L. and MacMillan, I. 2006. Manage Customer-Centric Innovation Systematically, Harvard Business Review, pp. 106-116.

Torrid. 2020. Plus Size Fashion & Trendy Plus Size Clothing. [Online]. Available at https://www.torrid.com/. [Accessed on 01/08/2020].

Wilson, J. 2014. Essentials of Business Research: A Guide to Doing Your Research Project (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Management Assignment Help

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