customer experience

The Five Best Tips to Grow Your Business

There are five tips for growing your business that will help you get products to market faster, win more customers, boost your margins and deliver a superior experience to every stakeholder. Your competitors won’t know what just happened to them if you follow these five tips to grow your business:

1. Focus on the Customer Experience

As a rule of thumb, it’s seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, so your business should be laser-focused on offering the best possible customer experience and encouraging your most passionate customers to become advocates and ambassadors for your business.

That means understanding what makes your best customers tick—what are their hopes, interests and expectations? Some businesses even go so far as to create customer personas that help them identify the specific types of people (ex. a single mother who works full-time and only buys premium products for her kids) that are the best customers for their business.

2. Keep an Eye on Your Cash Flow

One of the most important financial reports of any company is the statement of cash flows. It lets you know exactly how your company is converting cash into profits. Ultimately, cash flow is what lets you pay employees and vendors, pay off debts and invest in new equipment. If your business is burning cash too quickly, that could be an early warning sign that there are significant financial problems within your business.

3. Invest in a Reporting Analytics Package

Data matters more than ever in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape. With big data, you’ll be able to help you identify new customer segments, new niches, and new ways to expand. At the very least, it will give you a real-time look at how your business is performing and enable you to perform sophisticated report analysis.

4. Optimize Your Supply Chain

Just-in-time is the buzzword in inventory management and it’s a great strategy to increase efficiency and reduce inventory costs. If you have too much inventory (think of warehouses overflowing with products), you are going to tie up too much cash and impede the growth of your business. If you have too little inventory (think of nearly empty warehouses), you are going to have a very difficult time re-stocking your retail shelves. The solution is just-in-time inventory management, in which products appear exactly when they are needed. To make that a reality, you need to optimize your supply chain, so that products can make their way to your warehouse just in time.

5. Always be Innovating

In business, there’s no time to just stand still. You need to be constantly innovating, constantly pushing the envelope of what’s possible with your business. Think about what new products you can offer customers, what new niches you can explore, and how you can surprise and delight your customers.

By getting every part of your business—sales, marketing, finance, operations—working together seamlessly, you can guarantee the future success of your business, no matter how big or small it is.

Checking In With Your Customers

Having a constant pulse on what your customers are thinking is one way to drive competitive advantage for your business. Always-on Internet connectivity has become a huge advantage for companies attempting to connect seamlessly with customers anywhere in the world. There are simply so many tools for connecting and interacting with your customers, especially now that people take their mobile phones with them literally everywhere.

But there’s a downside to all that connectivity — your customers are probably already drowning in the information overload. They may not be as responsive as back in the day, when they’d gladly pick up the phone to chat. They may notice your latest Facebook status update or your new email newsletter, but simply be overwhelmed with other messages, status updates, tweets, and texts.

Given that reality, the easiest, most effective and cheapest way to check in with your customers is via email. This might explain why customers are deluged with emails on a weekly and even daily basis — everyone else has the same idea. To cut through all that clutter, you need to make it worth their time to read your emails before anyone else’s.

To do that, be sure to state your intent at the outset of the email. Then, use a human, personalized voice, so that they know they are not dealing with a soulless brand. Finally, give them an incentive to respond, such as better service, a chance to try out a new feature, or even a prize as part of some contest.

After email, the next most valuable tool for connecting with customers is social media. As might be expected, Facebook and Twitter lead the way in terms of checking in with customers. The problem is that too many brands view these as broadcast mechanisms rather than check-in mechanisms. Replying to a comment on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter can go a long way. Look for ways to use social media to foster personal connections. After all, they don’t call it “social” media for nothing!

And, if you thought regular mail was a thing of the past, think again. A personalized piece of mail can go a long way in getting your customers’ attention. Of course, you’ll want to avoid bland, impersonalized form letters. But think about ways to show how committed you are to them and how important you view your relationship with them.

Finally, what about meeting your customers face-to-face every now and then? If you’re not already meeting them at conferences or trade shows, organize regular meetings with your best customers. This will help you understand your brand ambassadors, the people willing to take your business to the next level.

It’s always worth hearing what they have to say directly. If they really care about your business, they’ll be up front and honest with you. And there’s an added advantage here as well. Your customers will see that there’s an actual person behind the business, and will enjoy meeting more of your team and understanding the story behind your business.

Getting to know your customers is a win-win for both you and your customers. You’ll learn more about what makes them tick, and they’ll learn and understand your company’s mission.

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: What’s the Difference?

In business, we hear several terms such as “customer service” and “customer experience” being bandied about without knowing what they truly mean. Often, there is confusion between these two terms and sometimes, they’re erroneously interchanged. So what’s the difference between them?

Customer service is provided in person or via technology before, during and after a purchase. Retail stores have employees that are available to assist customers when they come in. Customer service through technology can occur on your website via live chat or by phone. Whether in person or through technology, customer service is seen as a part of the overall customer experience.

Customer experience is the perception a customer has about a company. It is the sum of direct or indirect experiences, such as their first impression of the brand, meeting employees, reading news about the company or hearing stories through friends. Customer experience refers to every single interaction a customer has with the brand and includes customer service. Because of this, customer experience is more subjective and pertains to how a customer feels about the company over a long period of time.

Customer service and the entire customer experience can affect the customer’s loyalty. It’s possible that if one falls short, the customer may start looking elsewhere in the future.

While both customer service and the customer experience have differences, both are linked together and affect each other. Paying attention to both is good way to have your company stand out from the competition.