Common business issues and how you can fix them
As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to take stock of your practice, and possibly face some hard truths about where improvements could be made.
To get you started with this confronting task, here are seven common business strategy and management issues and some simple steps to fix them.
1. Your value proposition isn’t clear
Like you, a client will only ever buy something when they see a benefit in paying for it. If you’re not converting enough new clients – or if you’re losing too many existing ones – your value proposition may not be clear.
A value proposition is an important part of any business’s strategy. Successful businesses will state theirs clearly and succinctly on their website and in marketing material. But, more importantly, they demonstrate it every time they work with a client. After all, showing someone the value you provide is always more powerful than telling them about it.
If you’re having trouble working out your business’s value proposition, here’s a simple way to figure it out.
- Define your target audience. What do they do? Where do they live? And what are their pain points?
- Ask yourself how you solve these pain points in a way that others don’t or can’t. For instance, do you use a particular process or methodology? Do you have specialist experience in a particular area?
- Articulate how this difference affects your audience’s likely outcomes.
When you have this information, combine it into one short sentence.
And there you have it - your value proposition.
2. You don’t understand your clients
If there is one common feature of every successful business, it’s a loyal following of satisfied clients. But you can’t hope to keep your clients satisfied without first knowing what makes them tick.
The easiest way to find out what matters to your clients - and to understand the problems they face - is simply by asking them. And that means embarking on a program of consistent and regular client feedback.
A good client feedback program will help you maintain successful client relationships while growing your business. The program should ask your clients about both the quality of the advice they receive, as well as their impressions of your customer service skills.
3. Your customer service is lacklustre
Poor customer service will let you down and lead to poor client retention. So if you’re losing clients more quickly than you’re adding new ones, it could come down to the way you’re treating them – which is why it’s so important to measure it. This includes measuring both the qualitative (what people think and feel) and the efficiency aspects of customer service (how well your processes run).
The easiest way to measure the qualitative aspects of your customers is to incorporate some questions into the client feedback sessions at point two of the above process. Ask your clients how satisfied they are with your service and advice, where you could improve and how likely they are to recommend you.
To measure your efficiency, look at metrics such as your response time to queries or complaints, the volume of calls or emails you receive and how long it takes to resolve any issues.
If you use both methods of tracking your customer service you’ll get a real understanding of how clients view your customer service, as well as first-hand experience of the link between client satisfaction and business growth.
4. Your technology skills let you down
When used properly, technology can create a leaner business, keeping costs down and freeing staff from routine tasks. In other words, it can help create business success by reducing your firm’s bottom line as well as potentially increasing its productivity, and therefore revenue.
Ask yourself, how efficient is your back office? Could your business reduce costs or save time by automating some processes? Are you making the most of your CRM by using the data and insights it provides to improve your practices and sharpen your business’s focus? And do your apps, CRM and other software speak to each other so that you only need to collect data once?
Small changes in the way you work with technology can sometimes have a profound impact on profitability. So if you’re not using your software to full effect it’s time to get some training. And if you don’t have the time or inclination for that, pay someone who really understands IT to help you out.
5. Your knowledge is out of date
Sometimes business owners need to face the reality that the problems in their practice don’t lie with their business strategy or their processes but with themselves. After all, for professionals, business success requires staying up-to-date with the latest thinking, products, legislation and strategies.