It's great to have vision. Just make sure you're ready for business growth.
I can't tell you how many entrepreneurs have told me that growth remains their number-one priority. They want more customers, more sales, more inbound links, more repeat business more products to sell.. The problem is that they forget about the customer experience in the process.
Growth Shouldn't Lead to Chaos
While rapid growth can have positive results, it can also throw your business into chaos. This happens when you're not prepared for growth and you forget about the people who matter most: Your customers.
I once visited a local restaurant to pick up a sandwich and a drink. I arrived during the lunch rush, and the employees looked harried as they rushed to take and fill orders. One by one, customers returned to the service counter to complain that their food hadn't been prepared correctly or that the employees had forgotten parts of their orders.
Think of this experience as a microcosm of uncontrolled business growth. You're making more sales, but your customers are walking away unhappy because you weren't equipped to provide them with the customer service they deserved.
If you feel frazzled at the end of every day, or if you're receiving more complaints than usual about customer service or product quality, it's time to give your customer experience more attention. Growth is great, but only if you can keep your customers happy.
Look at the Variables That Influence the Customer Experience
For instance, more orders mean more man hours spent on logistics, shipping, point-of-sale transactions, and other activities, which can take your time away from each individual customer.
Instead of giving your undivided attention to each shopper in your store, you might only offer a distracted wave and half a smile as you rush off to complete the next task on your plate.
When you put growth before customer experience, you risk of ruining your carefully cultivated brand and driving your clients or customers right into the arms of your competition.
That's not the result you want.
How to Control Growth and Customer Experience
If you make the customer experience a priority, you might discover that business growth becomes more manageable. You may also be interested in attending NextCon, the Customer Experience conference of the year, where you'll hear from customer experience legends about how to improve your company's service.
It's important to remember that point-of-sale isn't the only touch point between a company and its customers. Today, consumers can interact with your business via social media, your blog, live events, online orders, and more. If even one encounter upsets the customer, that single misstep can undo years of hard work. Not to mention earn you a really bad online review or Facebook rant.
So how do you proceed without sabotaging your company's capacity for growth?
Solicit Feedback Regularly
Focus on listening to your customers and giving them what they want. That sounds overly simplistic, but it's a key to business success.
For instance, maybe you satisfy your customers' needs in terms of product quality and delivery time, but you fail when it comes to technical support or honoring promotions. Beef up your training for your team, consider adding another person specifically for technical support. If your employees offer inconsistent customer service your loyal customers could feel neglected. And that will kill your repeat business.
Stop for a minute and find red flags along the customer journey. You can analyze data from your website or physical location to better understand when potential customers lose interest or when existing customers stop placing orders or hiring you for your services.
Once you identify areas for improvement, you can address the customer experience issues. Maybe the solution lies in hiring more manpower, updating your employee training,. streamlining your processes, or taking the focus away from some other aspect of your business.
If you can figure out how to maintain controlled growth without diluting the customer experience, you'll find yourself with a loyal stable of clients who wouldn't think about jumping ship.
Customer experience is paramount in building a successful business. That's why Nextiva is hosting NextCon, a conference aimed to help you improve the customer experience in your business. Click here to register!
If you want to learn more about how I tackle entrepreneurial challenges, friend me on Facebook. I can't wait to see how you resolve customer experience issues and put your company back on track toward positive growth.
Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.