Most of the time company leaders are in the weeds. Day-to-day, they’re dealing with fire drills from every direction and tirelessly looking for new opportunities. But, for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) especially, it’s imperative to pull yourself out of the weeds every month to make sure you look at your business “from 20,000 feet up.” When you look down on operations from above, you’re able to see where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you hope to be.
With ever-increasing competition in the customer experience landscape, taking a step back to reassess your business, values, and goals helps align with customer expectations and figure out what needs to change to meet them. But, you can’t look at your business from 20,000 feet by yourself. Invite key employees, outside advisors, and even your partners to look at the big picture with you – those not as close to your day-to-day may prove vital to success.
As we move into 2018, every SMB should ask these four questions:
- Are we on the right road to success? Almost every marketplace is going through massive transformation and disruption in customer experience. What worked to engage your customers in 2017, or earlier, may not bring you success in 2018. Look at companies such as Amazon and Uber for examples of how quickly an industry can change customer expectations. Where is your industry headed in the next few years? How is it being disrupted? More importantly, how can your company get out in front of the changes?
- Do we understand the changing needs of our customers and prospects? You’ve heard this a thousand times before: Today, business is all about the customer. Thanks to the internet, social media, and virtual assistants in our pockets and on our wrists, we now live in a customer-centric world. Buyers control the conversation about products and services; if companies aren’t paying attention, it could very well mean their demise! My advice is to keep an open dialogue with your best customers and prospects. What do they want from you? Can you exceed their expectations? If not, why not?
- Do we have the right people working in the right positions? Sometimes employees are in positions that aren’t a natural fit for their talents, and that can be obvious to your customers. When business owners and leaders do whatever they can to hold onto key employees, they promote their stars into positions that don’t make sense. Some of your employees were meant to be managers, and some were meant to be sales or marketing superstars. Review your employee roster with the knowledge that new challenges face your team in 2018. Do you have the best people in spots where they’ll have the greatest impact on helping you achieve your goals next year? Are the right people on the frontlines with your customers? What positions could be created based on existing talent to drive innovation to meet new expectations?
- Are we prepared to respond to major decisions in 2018? There are many forks-in-the-road for SMBs–decisions that will have a big impact on their futures. Some forks include: whether to open new locations, invest in new equipment and technology, or launch a new product or service. And, today’s customer mentality will only increase the amount of decisions SMBs will face.
There are three types of decision makers when it comes to forks-in-the-road:
- The reactive business owner will make their decision too late to take full advantage of the opportunity. They were too busy in the weeds of their business to see the fork coming up.
- The proactive business owner will see the fork coming up, and pull themselves out of the weeds of their business to make the correct decision. They will have consulted with the right people to make sure they haven’t missed anything.
- Lastly, the predictive business owner won’t even slow down at the fork-in-the-road because they saw it coming from miles away. They open the new location, launch a new product, and buy new technology without missing a beat in their business.
Which business owner do you want to be?
For more information on how to approach customer experience, download this ebook: 5 Ways to Improve Customer Experience.