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Better Off Dead?

Eight ways to spot a product line that's doomed.

This story appears in the April 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The owner of a small electronics manufacturing company was searching for a way to kick-start sales, which had flattened over the past three years. After a lengthy session of hand-wringing and self-doubt, he came up with what he felt was the best way for the company to get moving again. He would make sure his staff did everything it could to improve customer service and concentrate more on customer satisfaction. The company would have to work harder at satisfying its customers because that was the only thing holding them back--or so he thought.

Customer satisfaction plummets when companies get into production problems that delay delivery or affect quality, but this company didn't have those problems. It had a good record for meeting customer delivery needs, had an excellent reputation for product quality, and the staff seemed knowledgeable about how to deal with customers. It was a good bet the problems were coming from another area. But where?

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