Thursday, September 01, 2011
Four Resolutions for the New Business Year
Forget New Year’s Eve and the ball dropping in Times Square. With Labour Day coming and pucks dropping in towns and cities across Canada, this week marks the start of the real New Year, especially in business, where entrepreneurs and executives are now shifting their mindset from managing vacation schedules to executing freshly minted budgets.
Here are four New Year’s resolutions to help you get your business in better shape.
• Take a fresh look at your business, through the eyes of a customer. Hire a mystery shopper to walk through the customer experience at your business and report back, or just think through all your processes and systems that touch clients. Either way, you must identify and root out any discordant element that prevents prospects and customers from experiencing your company the way you would like them to.
Here are just a few things drive customers crazy: old brochures, out-of-date (or tired) websites, or client-facing employees who don't share your passion for your products and customers. You also have to blow up the roadblocks that prevent people from doing business with you, whether they’re stringent credit policies, delivery delays, or tedious online registration systems.
Forward-looking companies track and measure the customer experience, then set standards to ensure that everyone receives consistent quality service throughout the journey from curious stranger to valued client. Even the smallest business can set customer-response standards (e.g., phones answered within three rings; messages returned within one business day), or track conversion rates to see how many inquiries become genuine leads, and how long it takes to complete the sales cycle.
• Invest more in training your people for this tougher new economy. All your staff must be miracle workers (and not in the sense that if they're working, it’s a miracle). It’s their job to turn raw resources (time, money, or metal and plastic) into value-creating products and services, or to transform ordinary customers into raving fans.
If some staffers aren't big on miracles, reorient them or invite them to seek fulfillment elsewhere. Most people can be salvaged with a consistent application of entrepreneurial zest: help them understand how dependent your company is on their actions, and give them the training they need to perform their jobs right.