As the great philosophical movie “Groundhog Day” taught us, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” You keep doing the same thing and the same thing keeps happening. That’s true in food choices, weight loss, finances, relationships, recipes, and maybe even your batting stance in baseball. In your business, you never change your product line, or continue offering the same services you always have, and nothing changes. Flip that idea around and you see that as you change something, it changes other things.
When yet another New Year’s Day was upon us, we naturally thought about things we wanted to change. I’ll get up a little earlier each day, switch out one soda for one glass of water, or start a newsletter to reach my customers. Little changes every day, and pretty soon the habit is formed. You are rewarded with extra time in your day, a start to being better hydrated, or an engaged customer base.
If you started the year thinking you would make some business improvement, change your hours, try to reach a different customer, or revamp the company colors, how are you doing a few weeks in? We’re now several weeks in and maybe you're just not sure what to do.
By the time Groundhog Day rolls around, most New Year's Resolutions have been abandoned. Can you change things up? The easy thing is to just keep doing what you're doing, keep plodding along. But the easy thing doesn’t lead to improvement.We're back to doing things the same way we've always done things. And doing the same things, in the same way, means the same results. Just like the beginning of the movie, you keep reliving the same day over and over. Instead, what if we use Groundhog Day as a chance to review those resolutions, figure out what we should change, then make sure we follow through?
Here is a path for breaking out of that Groundhog Day repetition in your business.
Your business needs customers in order to succeed. By asking current and prospective customers what they want or need, you can line your business up to provide the right things at the right times. And how do you find out what those things are? Well,just ask. Ask about what is working well, what roadblocks they’ve run into, what new product would they like to see.
People are more inclined to answer specific questions instead of a generic “suggestion box.” “Did you find the color and size shirt you were looking for in our July sale?” “What time of day works best for a webinar?” You can ask directed questions using an online Survey Tool to simplify gathering responses. Using a complete CRM such as GreenRope, you can even tie those responses to a certain contact. Each response teaches you more about a given person, and the collection of responses illuminates trends in wider ranges of customer populations. Depending on your purpose, you can even share the results of the survey with the person responding. Let them know how their answers match up to others who answered the same question.
But it’s not enough to just ask questions and gather answers. You also have to consider the answers, actually make changes that make sense in your business, and let customers know about it.
Once you’ve asked the right questions and gathered responses, it’s time to evaluate the results. Some of the answers you find may give very specific insight. For example, let’s say you had a training session on Monday and you ask what the attendees thought of it. You survey them and find that more than half of the respondents (4 out of 7) were either “Very Satisfied” or “Mildly Satisfied.”
Good news, right? A majority of your answers are positive. Your first inclination is, “we’re mostly doing OK with this.” The simple take away from that evaluation would be to keep doing what we’re doing. Wake up, do the same thing, just like Groundhog Day. But if you want to get better, reliving that same day just won’t work. You’ll never break out of the repetitious day until you make changes. Perhaps more granularity can give you more insight.
GreenRope gives you the ability to view cross tabulation in surveys. Cross tabulation looks at responses in relationship to another, rather than as a singular item. Specify which responses will be included, and which questions to consider. If you use cross tabulation and compare the relationships of answers, what deeper insights might you gain?
For example, compare the satisfaction rating with the length of service. Now you see that the “Somewhat dissatisfied” or “Very dissatisfied” responses came from people who have been with the company for 6 months to 5 years.
This offers a very different picture than “we’re doing mostly OK,” and can lead to actionable tasks. Now you can consider if you should provide different information to longer term employees. Or simply to split newer employees and longer term employees into separate sessions with different focus or speed of delivery.
Once you’ve gathered customer feedback, you’ve gained a new perspective into how they see your company, and you can develop a list of changes you want to implement. Review any available management reports on your business functions, and add this to what you’ve learned from your customers. You may see some small changes that are needed, and some that are very large or wide-reaching.
Determine a timeline for things you want to change. Find some short term or smaller things to change first. Small risk, large reward. If most of your survey responses point to a particular area of your business, what small change can you make in that area? This will allow you to show some movement so customers can see you are focusing on that area.
For example, if many customers mentioned having a hard time reaching you “after hours,” would a shift in store hours help, maybe opening an hour later and staying open an hour later? Or maybe it would be sufficient to provide a way for customers to contact you online, even outside of business hours. If your business is using a Complete CRM like GreenRope, you can use Ticketing to allow your contacts to notify you of their needs, and you can track the progress of addressing their issue up through completion.
Consider when you make a change that in some cases you can test it on a subset of customers to see if it is having the desired effect. Maybe in asking, you’ve found that your read rates on your email campaigns are very low. A concerted effort using A/B testing will allow you to craft different emails, maybe different colors or layout, maybe different content, and send each to a small set of your customers. Then review which one achieves better results, better read rates, more click through. Once you know which is more effective, you can send the best one to the remaining larger population.
Don’t forget that sometimes your customers just need to know that you’ve made changes. If you’ve made changes to your emails and now more are landing in their inboxes, that is a great start. They will start seeing your messaging, which may be a change they didn’t even know they needed!
Go one step further by reviewing the results of your survey to see who was interested in a certain change. If a customer requested earlier store hours, it’s not enough to just change the hours. Let them know you’ve done so!
Of course, you can let your entire population know of the change, but with GreenRope, you can also send a targeted email, SMS/MMS, or voice campaign that delivers a specific message to those whose survey results drove the change. Let them know you heard them, and that you are responding. This will garner goodwill as they feel heard but also see the influence they can have on your business servicing them in the way they need.
In general, commit to communicating with your customers on a regular basis. Start by visualizing your customers’ experiences using Journey Mapping. Building customer journey maps helps you see exactly what your customer goes through and experiences at every touchpoint. This will allow you to identify holes in your process and fill them with effective touch points.
One effective tool for sending the right message to the right audience is marketing automation. Marketing automation follows the logic you established in Journey Mapping to personalize the messages you send. If a customer comes to your website and leaves without purchasing, send them one message. If they show interest in a certain section, send them follow up information about that. Strategically choose what to send based on an action (or a lack of action) occurring within a certain time, or based on their demographics such as zip code or title.
You can further improve your odds of creating effective communication using Campaign optimization to deliver the most engaging content to your target audience. Choose a small subset of your contact list and send each person one of two or more different messages. Based on which ones receive the highest read or click rates, GreenRope automatically sends the best performing message to your remaining list. Testing and optimizing your campaigns directs the most successful messages to your target audience, which encourages them to react and respond to your message.
Drip Campaigns are another great way to send emails to selected customers on a consistent basis. Extract customers’ data from your CRM to make personalized messages that are more tailored to the recipient. The personalization makes it more likely that the messages will be read, and keeps your business in the front of their minds. Drip campaigns can make for an engaged and more satisfied customer base.
So don’t let another Groundhog Day go by, where those New Year’s Resolutions just fall by the wayside. Nothing changes if nothing changes, so Ask. Evaluate. Implement. Publicize. Break out of the unchanging days and into a new business year.
When you wake up tomorrow, what will you do differently?