How good is your company at really knowing what is going well or not going well? When we consider this question internally, often we see things too rosy and tend to turn a blind eye.
Several years ago when I had just started working with a client, the owner said to me: “We have an issue with a customer who is really unhappy with staff member ‘X’ looking after them – what should I do?”
The first thing I said to the owner was “how many other customers does person ‘X’ look after” and they said 15. I recommended they immediately rang up the other 14 customers to see how happy they were. Perhaps unsurprisingly 13 of the other 14 customers were preparing to walk to competitors because they were so fed up.
If you want to find out how to make your business greater it is very simple to proactively find out from customers.
Of course there are many obvious ways to talk to them. You do need to be careful with some product or service improvements or development ideas customers come up with, as they may not be good, commercially-sound ideas.
But that said, if you point blank ask a customer what is frustrating them in dealing with you, they will tell you.
Most of the time it is free to find out such important information. All too often we do not ask our customers what they do or do not like in dealing with us.
Most companies have several touch-points for customers, such as different departments, people, websites, software etc., and you need to check in on how they feel about each one. Poor touch-points could be all it takes for them to walk when they are really happy with all other areas of your business.
If you do find out interesting things, make sure you do something about them, because if you do not, a customer will think you do not listen and fix recurring issues that affect them.
There is nothing more powerful than a customer feeling listened too when they raise an issue – that in itself might make them close to a customer for life.
Beyond asking questions of customers, the other obvious way to identify areas likely to cause recurring issues in your business, is to monitor those key performance indicators that matter.
A classic historical case was British Airways (BA) in the 1980s with Lord King at the helm.
BA was in a terrible financial position and facing bankruptcy when he took over. After investigating thoroughly, he worked out the airlines woes were due to one main fact. This was that BA flights never took off on time.
So he instigated one main KPI that mattered – the percentage of flights that took off on time – and within a couple of years he had turned around the airline from staving off bankruptcy to the worlds most successful airline of the time.
I wonder what your one metric “to success” might be? For your company. Your team. Yourself.
Zac de Silva is an award-winning business coach who owns www.businesschanging.com. Visit www.accme.co to sign up for regular business-thinking questions and build a prioritised action point list. Zac is also co-founder of www.nurturechange.com, the Fiji business retreat in November 2016.