One management mantra that you’ve probably heard countless times in your life is the quote, “There’s always room for improvement.” Regardless of whether you’re flipping burgers at McDonalds or devising Coca-Cola’s new marketing strategy for 2013, we’re all cut from the same cloth. We are far from perfect, and our businesses are no different. Business starts with discovering an unmet need in the marketplace, and utilizing the strengths of your organization to fulfill that need and deliver a workable solution to your customers. However, is that where it ends? When you acknowledge that competition rides on the coattails of success, there will always be a need for continuous improvement.
We must start by having 100% faith in our product, our sales staff, and our customer service representatives. Having this solid foundation enables us to sustain improvements and build on them over time.
Almost by definition, continuous improvement means outsmarting your competition by taking your customer satisfaction to the next level, making a commitment to after-sale follow up, and creating a better overall experience for your customer each and every time they return.
What other methods of improvement can offer the biggest gain?
- Track everything – Do you report and store your incoming sales, repeat customers, and customer referrals? How will you know if you have improved if you have no basis for comparison? Start by computing monthly advertising and sales reports and document the changes that you see.
- Adopt competitive business intelligence – Remember, no business operates in a vacuum. You must constantly do your research to monitor the ever-changing trends and landscape in your industry and assess how they might have an impact on your business. What are your competitors doing, and what can you do better?
- Generate customer feedback – Perhaps the most important source to determine areas of improvement lies in your customers’ feedback. It’s as simple as sending frequent customer service surveys that act as a forum to express their viewpoints. Depending on your business, you may also benefit by organizing focus groups to spark conversation around your products and services. Aggregate and compile your survey results to pinpoint what areas of your business need a bit of a face-life.
- Stay connected – The last thing you want is to have your existing customers fall off the face of the earth. Whether you choose to post blogs, press releases, case studies, send out weekly newsletters, or follow up on customer inquiries, comments, or concerns, your ultimate goal lies in boosting your customer loyalty ratings. A happy customer will lead to business referrals, and an unhappy customer will go out of their way to make your life miserable. When you conduct the Cost-Benefit Analysis of Delivering Great Customer Service, you will realize that your customers are your biggest stakeholder and your most valuable asset.
- Set concrete and realistic short-term and long terms goals – Where are you now and where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, or 10 years down the road? Work toward those goals in incremental strides. Try concentrating your focus on different aspects of your business at different points in time. Taking control of every component simultaneously is not only unrealistic, but can even be unproductive.
Continuous improvement lies at the cornerstone of success. Whether you are a one-man operation or you own a large enterprise corporation, we can agree that business is never static. It is either scaling upward or it’s on a fast track to failure. The choice is yours.