Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Customer, Featured, Improvement

customersMost businesses are very focused on bringing in new business. Once they get the business, they lose that focus. We’ve all had bad customer experiences, when a company doesn’t seem to want to solve your problem. No matter how well you sell, no matter how great your product or service is, you need to have a process to keep your customers coming back.

Here are six reasons that you need to focus on customer retention.

  1. Existing Customers Are More Profitable: Researchers have repeatedly conducted studies to determine the expense of gaining new clients versus the expense of retaining one.  These studies have proven that it can be up to five times more expensive to win over a prospect than it is to keep an existing client.  Furthermore, existing clients are far more likely to increase their business with you by taking advantage of additional products or services.
  2. Satisfied, Loyal Customers Refer Other Business To You: Satisfied customers can contribute to your sales efforts through their recommendations.  In essence, they become a referral source.  Satisfied, loyal customers make particularly useful referral sources because they are able to provide a first-hand testimonial when recommending you to someone they know who could benefit from your business.
  3. Service Is More Memorable Than Products Or Prices: Price doesn’t have as much sway in the sales world as it once did.  That isn’t to say that price doesn’t matter, or that customers aren’t drawn to lower prices, just that they just rank customer service higher than price or product these days.  Most people are willing to pay a little more for a product or service if it means having an amiable relationship with a business.
  4.  They Will Take Their Business Elsewhere: Customers, by and large, are non-confrontational.  Most will not outright voice their complaints.  Instead, they will simply take their business to your competition.  Don’t assume your customers are completely satisfied if they are not complaining — remember, they vote with their pocketbook.
  5. Satisfied Customers Are Loyal Customers: A customer’s loyalty to your business directly relates to your customer service.  The better you treat your customers — that is, the stronger and more exceptional your customer service is — the more satisfied they will be.  And the more satisfied they are, the more loyal they become.
  6. Existing Customers Provide Better Metrics: One of the most effective ways to improve your business is through your existing customer base — by taking advantage of customer satisfaction surveys.  We recommend doing both an e-mail survey and a snail mail survey once a year, 6 months apart.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t just happen. You need to focus on it and create a process to ensure that customers keep coming back.  However, you need to make sure that you don’t make the one mistake that most customer service plans make.

Don’t Use A One-Level System: Most companies use a one-level system for customer service. What does that mean? It means the person directly in front of you is very happy with you. But what about the people waiting on line behind that person. Are they happy or have you spent so much time on the person in front of you that they have become aggravated, or worse, have they left altogether.   The process you use needs to keep in mind that you have more than one customer (at least I hope you have more than one customer). Create a process that treats all your customers well, whether they’re in front of you or not

Don’t Underestimate Your Tools

Don’t Underestimate Your Tools

Featured, Improvement

toolsThere is an old saying that a good craftsman never blames his tools. However in realty the tools you use have a lot to do with your getting the job done well. A chef who uses a stove that doesn’t cook evenly or a carpenter with a nail gun that doesn’t put the nail in straight will not do as good a job as their counterparts with good tools. The same goes for businesspeople.

Using the right tools for the job improves the quality of the work and makes it easier for you to complete your tasks. Finding the right tool is not simple. What works for one person may not for another. Here are some tips to help you find the right tools for you.

  • Your tools should work the way you do: Whether its software, an offline process, or a piece of hardware your tool needs to fit the way you work, If it requires major changes to the way you work, you’ll stop using the tool and get no benefit from it. Make sure your tool works for you, not the other way around.
  • Make sure you’re not paying for what you don’t need: Many tools come in different versions. Make sure you’re not paying for features you don’t use. For example: Quickbooks can be purchased for your computer for under $300. That version can run for several years. The cloud version costs $600/year. Do you really need your finances to be in the cloud? While the cloud version has a nicer dashboard for your information, is that worth paying four times the price? Look for the features you need and get the lowest priced version that has all of them.
  • Don’t jump in: There is always a new tool coming out. Don’t jump to the latest tool just because it is new. Technology changes quickly and the latest and greatest today may not exist tomorrow. Make sure a tool will be around for a while and that you can easily transfer to, and if needed from, it.

For more information on how the Modern Observer Group can help build your business, contact us here.

Five Steps To Financial Security

Five Steps To Financial Security

Featured, Improvement, Personal Growth

Financial SecurityNo matter what your definition of success, most of us want at least enough money to keep us from worrying about paying bills and be able to handle emergencies if they come up. Better still is enough to retire comfortably. However much money you define as your goal, interviews with self-made millionaires have revealed a five steps anyone can take to improve your financial situation.

  1. Live Within Your Means: One thing all self-made millionaires agree on is that you have to live within your means. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Don’t live in a home larger than you need. Don’t pay for tv channels you don’t watch. Take advantage of sales on things you do need. Ideally, you should live on no more than 70% of your income, but in places with high living costs or if you are saddled with high debt you may have to work your way down to that. Take advantage of warehouse clubs (like Costco or Sam’s Club), discount supermarkets (like Aldi), and sales at stores you regularly shop at.
  2. Quality Over Quantity: When you do buy things, it is better to buy higher quality and less quantity. It is better to have one great suit than three cheap ones. The reasoning behind this is two-fold. Financially you will spend less on high quality items over the long run because they won’t need to be replaced as often. Psychologically the higher quality items  make you feel less like you’re scrimping and saving.
  3. Invest: No one ever became a millionaire on their salary. Start with an interest-bearing savings account. When you have  put aside enough (even if you can only save a few dollars a month) start investing in stocks or mutual funds. While it may take you awhile to save up enough to use a financial adviser, you can start with services like RobinHood that allow you buy individual stocks with no commissions and no minimums. You can start with less than you think. As of this writing stocks like GE, Bank of America, and Ford are all available for less than $25 a share (I am not recommending you buy any of these. I am using them as examples of low-cost stocks). Before doing anything with stocks, research and talk to experts. As you grow your savings and portfolio, it is worth it to use a financial advisor.
  4. Read: Keep up to date on what is going on in the world. Keep learning and improving your skills. The easiest way to do this is to read. Most experts recommend reading at least one book a month.
  5. Network: Finally, your net worth can be improved by your network. Spend time with people who are where you want to be. They can bring you opportunities and help introduce you to people who can help you along your journey.

This is not a get rich quick plan. It takes time and effort. Sticking with these tips will improve your financial position over time.

For more ways to improve your life and business, talk to a Modern Observer Group Coach.

The Business Coach Advantage

The Business Coach Advantage

Improvement, Leadership, Personal Growth, Planning, Process

business coachWhy should you have a business coach? Every athlete and every top performer uses a coach to bring out their best. Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the best basketball player ever. He has often credited his college basketball coach with turning him from a good player to a great one.  As a business person, you present yourself to your clients as a superstar. If Michael Jordan relied on his coach to get him to the top, shouldn’t you have a business coach of your own.

A business coach is somebody who helps you move from where you are to where you want to be, and does so by solely focusing on your goals. You’ll never really know what you’re capable of until there’s someone to push you outside your comfort zone. If you’re questioning what a coach can do for you, here are some reasons to get one

Gain an outside perspective: Brainstorming is a great tool but when you brainstorm with the same set of notions, you come up with the same ideas. A coach brings an outside perspective to the mix. By including ideas from other industries and coming in without preconceived notions, a coach brings your brainstorming to the next level. At the same time, that new perspective provides an opportunity for you to see the forest for the trees and take a look at the big picture even though you spend your days dealing with day-to-day details.

Bounce Ideas: A coach will listen to your ideas and bring expertise to allow those ideas to be evaluated and improved upon.

Guidance: A coach will make you focus on the big picture and your long-term strategies. Whether it is operations, marketing, or personal growth, your coach will help you develop plans to achieve your goals.

  • Accountability: A coach will keep you on track. Just like an athletic coach keeps a player training and improving, a business coach will keep you on track following your business plan, marketing plan and keep you growing.
  • If you want to grow and achieve your goals, a coach is what you need to step up your game.

Contact The Modern Observer Group to find out what a coach can do for you.

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

Featured, Focus, Improvement, Planning

ChecklistFocus is one of the key elements in building your success. A major part of that focus is having goals to focus on. Your goals provide you with both something to focus on and a way to measure your progress as you move forward. To get you started, here are five tips for setting and achieving goals to better aid your endeavors.

Be Specific and Set A Deadline: Vague goals are unattainable.  While the goal of “bringing in more sales” is an admirable, it is also lacking specificity.  Your goals need to be realistic and measurable, which means you need to be specific about your objectives.  How many sales are you aiming for? How do you intend to bring in more sales?  What specific steps do you need to do to accomplish this?  Once you establish specific goals, you need to assign them deadlines in order to ensure you see them through.

Develop A Plan Of Action: Even with specific goals, you still need to have a plan for achieving them.  Goals are a lot like trips — you cannot expect to reach your destination if you do not know what route to take.  For goals, that means creating an outline or punch list that breaks down your goals into bite-sized, manageable steps easily integrated into your daily work life.

Review Goals: Check your goals periodically. What have you done to achieve them? Talk this over with other people. If your goal is to be accomplished by a team, review it with them.  Reviewing goals allows everyone to get on the same page as their follow team members, which helps employees work more efficiently.

Incorporate Goals Into Life: Attaining your goals is a process, one that is reached gradually.  They will not fall into your lap already realized.  Instead, you must find ways to blend your everyday workload with strategies and tactics designed to achieve your goals in a concerted effort that simultaneously advances progress on your goals and improves your productivity.

Be Prepared For Changes: Life throws you curveballs.  You must accept that, because part of reaching your goals means being ready for those curveballs, being able to acclimate and being prepared to adjust your plan of action on the fly.  Goals are rarely, if ever, reached without a hitch.  Besides, adaptability is crucial in the business world.

Improve Your Productivity

Improve Your Productivity

Featured, Improvement

productivityIt’s a task staying productive. Distractions abound and there are dozens of ways to get anything done. To help you maintain a productive workplace environment, try these tips to increase your efficiency in the workplace.

  • Measure Twice, Cut Once – The old adage “measure twice and cut once” applies as well in an office as it does on a construction site. Whether you are a software engineer writing code or a CEO looking at an acquisition, it pays to look at things twice before making the final decision on what to do next. Don’t forget to analyze metrics during any decision-making process and consider how your decision will affect your company.
  • Doing It Right Is Cost-Effective – Why does it seem that there is never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do something over? If you want to be a proactive organization, it will pay huge dividends if everyone concentrates on doing their jobs right the first time – even if it takes a little longer to make sure it is right. And by doing it right the first time, you not only increase your company’s efficiencies, but you can also have an immediate impact on customer loyalty, retention and overall profits.
  • Ready, Aim, Fire – Many people can get caught-up in “analysis paralysis.” To help avoid this trap, figure out what you want to do, make a plan with the best information possible and then immediately engage the plan. If not, you will find yourself left behind and wondering what happened.
Set Goals That You Actually Want to Accomplish

Set Goals That You Actually Want to Accomplish

Featured, Improvement

Set goalsIt’s unlikely that you’ll make progress on your professional development goals if they feel like a chore. Instead of focusing on things you “should” do, choose one or two areas of focus that align with what really matters to you. Ask yourself:

  • If I could accomplish just one major professional development goal this year, what would it be?
  • When I think about this goal, do I get excited about the prospect of working on it as well as achieving it?
  • Am I motivated to achieve this goal because it’s interesting and important, or is it something that I think would please other people?

Use the answers to come up with a shortlist of goals that truly match your personal ambitions.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Challenging the Status Quo

3 Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Challenging the Status Quo

Featured, Improvement, Innovation

changeYou have a great idea that will improve operations, but it goes against the way things are done. Now the challenge is to break through the bureaucracy to get your idea implemented. When you’re taking the role of rebel at work, Harvard Business Review recommends that you look out for these pitfalls:

  • Going solo. It’s tempting to think you can do it all on your own. But you can’t. Temper your ego and collaborate with others to advance your idea. Bringing in fresh perspectives will only help.
  • Flunking the pitch. When you’re ready to share the idea, keep your pitch short — no more than 15 minutes — and leave lots of time for discussion and questions. Engagement is the first step to buy-in.
  • Giving up too soon. Set small goals and appreciate the small wins along the way. When you hit a setback, reflect on your positive progress to help you stay the course.
Achieve More By Thinking Strategically

Achieve More By Thinking Strategically

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Improvement, Leadership

strategyTo achieve more it is important to see the big picture. Because of the amount of work most people have and the pace at which it needs to get done, it is common to put your head down and plow through.  Doing this leads to missing key information that could help you focus, prioritize, and be proactive.

In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. Here are some methods for improving your strategic mindset:

  • Make it a routine exercise to explore and synthesize the internal trends in your day-to-day work. For example, pay attention to the issues that get raised over and over in your organization and synthesize the common obstacles your colleagues face.
  • Be proactive about connecting with peers both in your organization and in your industry to understand their observations of the marketplace. Then, share your findings across your network.
  • Understand the unique information and perspective that your function provides and define its impact on the corporate level strategy.
Scalpels and Sledgehammers

Scalpels and Sledgehammers

Featured, Improvement, Process

toolsThere’s an old saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Scalpels and sledgehammers are both incredibly useful, but they’re not even close to be interchangeable. Using the right tool for the right job is crucial to your success. To do that, you need to have a lot of tools in your toolset.

Too many business people focus on one way to do things. Whether its social media posts, Facebook advertising, Google adwords, or SEO, none of these things is the perfect solution for every problem. You must be able to determine what is going to work for your particular situation. More often than not, it is a combination of tools that works well.

Just as important as knowing which tool to use is staying up to date on your tools. What worked for SEO in 2009 will not work today. A post of your Facebook page in 2010 reached many more people than it does now. Know how your tools work and what tools work for what problems. Do this and you won’t get stuck trying to hammer in a screw.