At OpenEdge, we spend a lot of time discussing exactly who we are, who we aspire to be, and what our true mission and goals are…. that normal business stuff. Over time, we’ve refined the message and decided on the direction we want to go. It’s a direction for which we’ve resourced, staffed and prepared our teams to support.
In looking at many of the goals we established in determining our specific mission as a business, a simple set of measurable goals and aspirations can – possibly – be the ingredients of a surefire business success.
Formula Ingredient #1 – Your Product/Service Needs to Have Some Legs
OK – this sounds obvious. But let’s peel a few layers off the onion here. The questions you need to ask:
- Is my product or service unique in the marketplace?
- Does my product or service provide real, measurable VALUE to my customer or client?
- Is the need for my product or service likely to expand or grow?
Are you looking first to solve a problem your client has? Or are you in possession of a solution and you’re looking to find a corresponding problem it can solve? A product or service – thoughtfully crafted from a known customer problem is the best way to approach the market.
Formula Ingredient #2 – You Better be Committed to Service, or You Can Forget Ingredient #1
Imagine had Apple dumped a few hundred million first-generation iPods on the market with no customer service behind them. Technological horror. And the end of the iPod. Or imagine a pest control company who says, “We’ll be there in a week,” as a horrified young mother watches a cockroach dragging her child’s toys across the room. Chances are superb you’ll be bleeding customers faster than you can find new ones.
But service is something a lot of companies like to talk about, but few put this talk into action. At OpenEdge, we’ve initiated a cultural shift – a commitment of EVERY team member EVERY day to a service mentality. That mindset extends to our co-workers as well as our clients.
It’s not enough to simply commit to service and hope your teams get it. It is something that requires measurement. And that measurement needs to occur over time to develop trend lines and evaluate process and personnel changes.
Formula Ingredient #3 – NEVER STOP COMMUNICATING…. EVER
Sometimes it’s HARD to talk to your customers. Their email addresses always change. You don’t know who they are. They’re too far away. You’re afraid of what they’ll tell you. Blah, blah, blah. These are excuses and they’ll destroy you if you give them the chance.
Communicating means talking AND listening. Of the two, listening is FAR more important. You will be amazed at what your customers will tell you if you give them the opportunity. They will provide 90% or more of your guidance. LET THEM. Tell them what is important to them by email or blog or newsletter or your website or…. You get the picture. It doesn’t matter how, but treat them as a partner, not a target.
Then comes the important part. ASK THEM for their input. Let them tell you what they like about your service or need from your next product introduction. Don’t simply use communication as another opportunity to sell. Use it as an opportunity to engage. The sales will follow if you do.
Basic blocking and tackling? Maybe, but you’d be surprised how many businesses (and just like my favorite NFL team) forget these basics and turn more of their focus to day-to-day static. Provide a product of value, service it and engage your customers. Maybe that’s been the formula all along.