New entrepreneurs and longtime business veterans have one goal in common: to keep growing their companies. That's easier said than done, especially in uncertain economic times. The good news is that a few ideas stand the test of time when it comes to scaling a business. Here are three practical steps that any business owner or manager can take to keep their business growing.
Information is the lifeblood of any company. It's important to gather data about your business processes at every step. Having inaccurate data (often called dirty data) is bad enough, but missing information you should have collected can be catastrophic. This quest for information should focus on your internal and external numbers. Make sure that the general ledger is accurate by developing solid math skills yourself as well as investing in good accounting software. In fact, business process automation tools are sophisticated enough to make a huge impact on efficiency at all levels of a business.
Getting marketing research right is equally important. A qualitative approach, using customer feedback surveys (especially via text message) and virtual or in-person focus groups, are perennial favorites for getting subjective opinions. Gathering quantitative market data might take the form of a deep dive into local and global cultural demographics, or it could simply involve further questionnaires and surveys, though done in a more scientific manner (such as including control groups).
It's important to focus on well-established revenue sources. That doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't broaden your offerings or take advantage of new markets. A good example of this is micro-niche marketing, which takes advantage of the rapid proliferation of new subcultures with their own unique commercial demands. For example, if you own a vintage clothing shop, some micro-niches might be 80s nostalgia, or steampunk aesthetics, or even both, with targeted outreach to specific communities. A key component of this strategy is termed resonance marketing, which means engaging your customers in a mutually beneficial relationship by turning your core values into an identity that resonates with your market.
Greater adaptability may also require a change in the structure of your business. A flatter organizational structure, in which employees have less monitoring but more input and responsibility, can speed communication by cutting out redundant levels of middle management and encouraging knowledgeable generalists. On the other hand, a more traditional hierarchical structure has the advantage of strategic clarity and rewards worker specialization. Figure out which style works best for your business.
Customer experience (CX) is about more than just customer service. It's best to take a holistic approach to the customer's journey with your business and see every touchpoint along that road as a chance to do right by consumers. Find out their preferred method of customer service and then make that your policy. Have an e-commerce option for purchases. Whatever you choose, your effort will pay off. According to Dimension Data's 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, 84% of companies that make an effort to improve customer experience reported a revenue increase. More importantly, 92% reported increased customer loyalty. In other words, if you meet customers on their own terms, you'll earn their loyalty. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can also be a major help in automating and systematizing this process.
Remember also that customer experience goes well beyond service. The most effective form of advertising continues to be word of mouth. This degree of social capital comes from personal customer satisfaction, and satisfaction is determined largely by product quality itself. According to tech company First Insight's recent survey, quality beats price as the primary concern of purchasers by 53% to 38%. Make sure that your product improves their quality of life in some objective way and does so to a greater degree than your competitors and then showcase that truth in your advertisements.
There is no surefire path to success in entrepreneurship. Even so, keeping these three foundational strategies in mind will help you make the changes that you need and want to make to drive your business forward.
Publish Date: June 28, 2021 3:01 AM
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