Do You Measure Once, Cut Twice?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Business owners often have a couple of objective measurements that they make to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. As admirable as that is, the problem remains that these measurements are normally conducted quarterly, bi-annually or at year-end, and often measure the relative financial success of the organization, while leaving unanswered critical questions about the how’s, the whys and the when’s.

George Bernard Shaw once said; “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”. This applies to the majority of business people today. We carry on with our business activities for months, sometimes years without checking back to those who are directly responsible for the success or failure of our business, our clients. Maintaining the status quo, assuming that our product or services are still desired, well received and recommended by clients can be a fatal error in judgment.iStock_000013870483Small

Here are 5 questions you need to have answers to at regular frequencies in order to strategically develop your business activities.

  1. How do your new customers hear about you? Was it through referrals, your marketing, networking or some other way? How will you capitalize on this information once you have the answers?
  2. Did your product or service offer them a solution to a problem or issue they were encountering?  Was the solution sensational, very good or adequate? Can you get a testimonial?
  3. What features of your product or service are providing the greatest benefit to the clients? Is there a way to build on those? Are there other potential markets? Does the feature provide a future opportunity to solve other issues?
  4. What do your customers tell others about you, your company, your product or service and the experience of dealing with you? How often do you survey your clients?  Do you provide a mechanism for them to feed this information to you? Do you want to hear the good and the bad?
  5. Are there misconceptions about your product or service floating around in the marketplace?  Are you aware of anything negative on social media about you or your business?  Do you respond and if so how? Have you ever heard a potential client express any concern about dealing with you from something they might have heard?

We can spend countless hours testing and measuring every area of our business, and still emerge with a basic misunderstanding of why we are successful or where our failures are being hidden.  Keeping in touch with our clients provides us the truest measure of our efforts, and the clearest direction on how to grow, yet it is an area we often ignore until it may be too late. Continuous feedback allows us to make adjustments as we need them which gives a small business a huge advantage over larger organizations where change may be more cumbersome. By measuring once and cutting often, you are creating greater opportunity for errors in your business.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Small Business

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