2019 has begun. While many have set personal goals, it is also a good time to make resolutions for your business. Large companies go through extensive annual planning exercises that many small to mid-size companies bypass. Here are 5 considerations that can help get your business get off to a good start this New Year, no matter what size.
1. Define and Measure
Set goals for the year and the metrics that will define success. Start with a brainstorming session and the n pare down a large list to a manageable few based upon ROI and ability to achieve. Assign roles to key stakeholders required to make things happen. Identify issues in your business that may prevent achievement. Define the key metrics associated with success and milestones along the way. Create a dashboard of these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and update regularly to track progress.
2. Improve Communication
When it comes to customer service, there is no such thing as over communicating. That applies to both internal and external clients, a.k.a. your co-workers as well as your patrons. Set a company standard for expected response time to emails and phone calls, as well as the appropriate mode of communication given the circumstances. If an email is volleying back and forth multiple times without resolution, pick up the phone. When sharing business KPIs at multiple levels within the organization, determine which statistics are appropriate based upon confidentiality and position. When contacting customers, honor and maintain preferences by mode of communication (i.e. Do not mail, Do not share, Opt Out, Do not call). Leverage your marketing database to target the right audience, at the right time, with the appropriate message for best response.
3. Learn Something New
Teach an old dog new tricks. Install the latest versions of software and find out what’s new and how it is best utilized. Many are using professional tools that have bells and whistles that are currently going untapped. Take the tutorial to learn more about features and functions you already own. Find the online user forums and “How to Videos”. This concept also applies to staying current on the latest rules and regulations that govern your business. If you do not know how to interpret them, retain a consultant or proper counsel. For example, understand how privacy laws, like General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 ("GDPR") and the California Consumer Privacy Act impact the type of customer data that you can store and utilize.
4. Be Proactive
Don’t wait for customers to lapse. Find pockets within your customer base that are decelerating their behavior with you and target them with timely messages and offers to re-engage. Find the group that is “newly at risk” and make an impact while you can. Likewise, keep the momentum going for groups that are accelerating their activity and engaging with your brand more this year than last. Take them to the next level of customer value. Maintaining customer data in a platform that enables this type of analysis and targeting is paramount.
5. Increase Automation
The more manual your processes, the greater the risk of human error, the more time it takes to accomplish tasks and the fewer resources you will have dedicated to strategic thinking. Get out of your own way by finding new software solutions, change what’s not working and enhance your technology footprint. Challenge your vendors to do it better, faster, smarter…and at a price that you can afford. Outsourcing certain functions can provide efficacy and prioritization to a task at a potentially lower cost. For example, don’t let an overzealous IT department convince you they can build and maintain a data warehouse internally if they do not have experience with all of the intricacies. Stick with your core strengths and let the experts do what they do best.