The abilities required to successfully operate a business will manifest from a variety of experiences. Some simply conjure an idea that sells itself but most are not so lucky. Business skills will develop from various endeavors – it is safe to say that no single experience will provide all the answers.
Elements of a knowledge necessary to successfully grow a business are learned from different sources. Sometimes overlapping information will be discovered and other times contradictory information will surface and clash. In the case of the latter, this can cause problems for some components of the business. You will find this especially common when a person takes advice from a mentor who didn’t excel in all particular areas and other times when experience in one industry doesn’t translate verbatim for another industry.
Without applying some critical thinking to processes done out of habit can create a kind of daze when results appear better or worse than calculated. There is a certain kind of confusion that emanates from a lack of understanding. When you have grown accustomed to completing a task a certain a way it seems strange to change, especially when it appears to be working. Yet, slight changes can be made that can make a huge impact on the business. Keeping an open mind about new ideas, even those that don’t initially make sense, is the best way to grow.
Staying with the times
I’ve listened to many who are accustomed to the “old way” counter argue when listening to a new idea that the old way “isn’t broken” and as such “a fix is not needed.” Certainly, a brand new way of approaching a situation is not in order. In these cases, nothing changes meaning a business will more than likely observe the same trends.
Criticism is hard to accept; it’s especially hard for those who take such criticism as an insult against the way they run a business. In these cases, it is important to be as polite and sincere as possible while conveying information that could rub against the grain of anothers beliefs. However, with enough tact, a mind can be opened just enough to plant the seed of a new idea.
There could be many areas where this person needs improvement or only a few. More often than not, one common trait is persistent among those struggling through while others are on the verge of greatness: it is the collection and interpretation of feedback. This one area is a catalyst for growth for business of any size at any place on the road to success. Feedback will uncover strengths and weaknesses indirectly which makes it perfect leverage for offering suggestions.
The first step in using feedback for betterment is to listen! Voices are out there but must be channeled to make effective use of the advice offered. So the first part of this plan must include collecting data. So how does one go about collecting data?
Finding a way to amass information about a company isn’t a very difficult process. After all, comment suggestion boxes worked for a long time – today, much more powerful tools trump that of a cardboard box and small pieces of paper. Ultimately, collecting and analyzing feedback is much like taking a class where all the material you covered is about your business. It may be time consuming but it’s easy to ace the course if you’re attentive. Keep in mind you can find yourself lost or overwhelmed if you collect too much information then spend too much time focusing on the most irrelevant points.
This is one scenario where you probably don’t need a big data solution unless you have a very large customer base. Instead, there are other options that better suit smaller operations. We will take a look at a few tools businesses are using to improve efforts.
An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system allows you to collect information from people who call your business. If you’re using VoIP, your service provider may offer this as part of a package for their service. By adding a short survey to the end of a call, customers are able to leave feedback that can be utilized for training purposes.
If you have an in-house VoIP setup, building your own IVR for feedback by using tools from software like Asterisk can be done for free. However, there are tools for the many who do not have in house phone platform like CallFire which integrates with your existing setup allowing callers to provide valuable feedback.
Though CallFire offers a variety of VoIP services, the survey system can be used à la carte. Customers assign a value between 1 and 5 to reflect feelings towards an aspect of their service experience or a product. The true value to these systems is the ability to listen to customer commentary. The content of a customers recorded message will shine a light on a strength, weakness or even both. If a recurring theme occurs within customer suggestions, it may be time to address the issue.
Do you have a Facebook page? If not, make one as soon as you’re done reading this blog! This is quite possibly one of the easiest ways to connect with people. Almost everyone has a Facebook account so don’t feel bad letting peer pressure win this one.
With Facebook, your exposure increases the more people that like your page. Posting insightful or useful information may result in others sharing your post which will in turn coerce others to visit your page which can be positive for customer conversion. Offering promotions is a great way to drive business as well since people are far more inclined to like your page when incentive are in place which ultimately generates more business.
Both the timeline and messaging portions of the platform allow you to interact with your customers. By doing such, you will receive feedback you can’t quite find with other systems. Keep in mind: allowing customers free range of a business page will also provide a conduit for spam. Privileges should be properly configured since spam can kill interest from some parties rather quickly.
Your business may or may not make it to the Yelp site. This site mostly focuses on smaller businesses and retail locations. People mostly use Yelp to inform other potential customers about a location who are unfamiliar with the territory or the establishment. Users can rate a business anywhere with the spectrum of awful to perfect, making it a good way to tie together strengths and weaknesses into a comprehensive business overview.
Business owners: take Yelp reviews seriously. We know some love to complain which we see a lot on our own review section. Keep in mind some are just venting so don’t let an awful review stir you too badly. You can be fairly certain everyone who left a remark is a real customer, so remember not to completely ignore negative commentary.
When facing a customer, you’re taught to treat them as though they are always correct. We know this isn’t always the case. What you will likely find as a core element to most customer complaints is that a lack of understanding is the source of anger. If you’re on Yelp, take a look. If you have any negative reviews, this is likely a recurring theme.
4. Survey Monkey
Directly reaching out to people is another method of acquiring feedback. Perhaps you are planning on adding a new service or altering an existing service. Discovering thoughts of existing and potential customers before making a big change can help move the effort along.
By using SurveyMonkey, a company can easily create a highly accessible survey for customers to collect and analyze data. Tailoring a survey for a product or service actually has multiple benefits. A survey can not only show details of customer grievances and cherished features, but can also build up interest in a new feature or direction. The platforms also offer analytic tools to aggregate the information collected then compile into usable data.
The ideas shared here can be implemented very quickly so start now and you will be collecting feedback within days or even hours.