The year is one month gone and it feels like January just flew away. I can safely bet that you set goals to increase your revenue this year. Maybe you want to double your business income compared to last year. Maybe you shot for the moon and decided to triple, quadruple or even 10x your income.
Whatever your revenue increase goal for this year, you will need to do some things differently this year to move your business forward.
This 3-part series contains ways in which you can fast-track your income goals this year. These are:
- Improve your customer service experience.
- Increase word of mouth marketing (referrals).
- Create and implement business systems and models that automate and brand your business.
Each of these tips done well will help you increase your business income in 12 months or less. If you can combine them all, you will definitely double or triple your revenues.
Let’s look at tip #1…
Step #1: Double your business by improving your customer service
Customers are the lifeline of a business. They are your reasons for being in business in the first place.
From your own experience, you must have realized that it takes a lot of effort to get someone to buy from you. You may have to meet the person a number of times.
You may have to advertise your products or services consistently in different places and media before people start flocking to your door.
Sometimes it may feel like you’re shooting in the dark until you start seeing results of your marketing – months down the road.
Research has proven that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to sell to someone who has already purchased from you than it is to acquire a new customer.
So if you already have customers, then that is money in the waiting. You just need to find a way to get them to buy from you again and again.
How do you do this?
The first step is to improve your customer service experience.
- Customers need to feel loved.
- They need to feel appreciated.
- They need to know that you’re not being nice to them just for the moment – to get money from their pockets – but that you care for them.
When you look around you, you will notice that the companies that take care of their current customers are the ones that make sales day in, day out.
What have you done to improve your customer service experience? What normally works in your industry? Have you implemented it in your business?
What is the current customer service experience in your business?
To find out how your customers feel or think about your business:
1. Take a walk around your business and look at it with fresh eyes, with the eyes of a customer.
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- How do you feel?
- How have you been treated?
- What areas can you immediately identify that need improvement?
2. Now take a walk through your competitors’ businesses and ask yourself the same questions.
3. Talk to your customers and ask them for a critical evaluation of your business.
- What do they like (whatever keeps them coming back)?
- What don’t they like?
- Have they suggested areas where you could improve? What did you do with this information?
- What have they seen your competitors do that you’re missing out on?
4. Find customers who bought from you once and never came back. Ask them why they never came back.
5. If you have a physical business or online shop, hire mystery shoppers and let them shop in your business. These shoppers should fit your ideal customer criteria so that they give you realistic information.
6. Ask your staff. Business owners miss out on the valuable knowledge gained by their staff.
- Your staff meet with customers daily and they know what is being done right and what is being done wrong.
- They also know what customers complain about and sometimes, your members of staff could be agreeing verbally with customers, thereby reducing your business’ credibility.
- It goes without saying that you must have an open door policy and your staff must feel safe enough to share information.
Of course, this means that you have a database with your customer contacts and details of their purchases. If you don’t have one then keep an eye out for my upcoming article with 10 ways to improve your customer service.
How can you change this experience?
Once you have identified your customer service gaps, meet with your team and come up with a creative plan to close this gap. Here’s a simple plan that you can follow:
- Involve your whole team from the bottom up so that people buy into the solutions.
- Resist the temptation to bring in a consultant as they will most probably offer solutions that no one owns.
- Solve things in-house as best as you can and seek outside help when you get stuck or need more expertise than is available in your team.
- When your plan is ready, roll it out immediately. Don’t wait to polish it up and make it into a 50-page customer service policy document.
- Allow each team member take responsibility for implementing it in their area and documenting the results. Meet with the team once a week to evaluate progress and chart the way forward.
- At the end of every month, have each team member come up with a simple 2-page document that outlines what they have done that month, the responses from customers and suggested way forward.
- Also, keep track of your business income so that you can see how your efforts are improving the bottom line. These reports will help you streamline your final customer service plan into all roles in the business.
- You can have a longer meeting each quarter to evaluate the plan in totality and add new information to it.
In this way, you will have killed many birds with one stone and:
- Identified your customer service gaps.
- Created or updated your customer details database.
- Created a more cohesive team.
- Put in place a customer service improvement plan.
- Improved your customer service experience.
NOTE: Remember that there are internal and external customers in every business. External customers are the ones purchasing from you. Internal customers are the different roles each team member plays. For example, Accounting is a customer of HR and vice versa. Taking care of internal customers is a critical success factor as your business grows.
Your way forward
Start working on your customer service improvement plan immediately. In summary, the steps to take are:
- Evaluate your business as a customer.
- Evaluate your competitors’ businesses as a customer.
- Ask your current customers for feedback on their experience.
- Ask past customers for the reasons why they never came back.
- Get your employees’ opinions about your customer service.
- Create a customer service improvement plan with your employees.
- Roll out the plan immediately it’s ready.
- Meet with your team regularly to edit the plan.
- Finalize the plan and streamline it into all departments and roles.
Tip: Find a way of turning this process into a game that everyone participates in. People are more creative when they’re having fun.
In conclusion, happy customers will come back again and again or send you referrals. It may take time to change your customer service experience, but the results will be worth it when you’re able to double your business income in an easier and more effortless way.
Back to you now…
What do you think of your business’ customer service experience? Have you received feedback from customers? What else have you done that helped to double your income in a year or less?
I’d love to hear from you so please share your knowledge and experience in the Comments section below.
In the next article, I’ll share Step #2: Increase word of mouth marketing or referrals.
(Image credit: hywards at Free Digital Photos)
Articles in the double your business income series are:
- 3 Steps to Double Your Business Income – Part 1 (Customer Service).
- Double Your Business Income – Part 2: Fill Your Business Through Word of Mouth Marketing.
- Double Your Business Income – Part 3: Create a Business Model.