Growing a business of any size requires customers who want to not only buy from you, but become supporters of your business; recommending you to others and being your champion. That way not only do they become repeat customers, but they encourage others to do the same. Could intrapreneurship be the answer to growing your company.
We all know that the best way to grow a business is to get customers to come back time and time again. Retaining them is much easier and cost effective than finding new customers. Having clients who become your champions is even better. This happens when you provide clients with great products or services, great customer experiences and value for money.
But how do you know if what you are providing is enough? What if customers are looking for something else? Maybe they are considering going to your competitors. Knowing what else your customers want or need next should be of great importance to your company. The more you are aware of what customers really want and how you can provide that for them will enable you to stay ahead and keep growing in your sector.
So how do you get to know what your customers want?
Well, we are often told by business development staff and marketing teams that we should ask our customers. They often recommend customer surveys, focus groups and questionnaires to research what customers want now and into the future. No doubt you already do this. We know that research shows:
For every customer complaint you receive, another 26 unhappy customers remain silent – White House Office of Consumer Affairs
This begs the question how much do our customers really tell us when we have these formal interactions with them?
Let’s take my recent example where I received a survey call from my business bank. It went a bit like this:
“Hello Mrs Jones. How are you today? This is Clive calling from your bank. We just wanted to check everything is okay with you and your account. It won’t take long. Do you have time for a few questions?”. Now the reality was I didn’t have the time, but I also knew he would probably call back, so as he promised it wouldn’t take more than five minutes I agreed. Over ten minutes into the call he said “One final question Mrs Jones. If you were considering leaving the bank, what would we need to do to keep you?” I thought about it for a moment. I had been considering leaving the bank and now I was thinking why that was. But I had given him so much time and to be honest I didn’t think it would make any difference if I explained to the marketing research person, so I replied that it wasn’t something I had thought of and brought the call to an end.
A week or so later I was at a business expo. You know the type, with stalls selling their stuff to business owners and speakers and sessions for business owners. Whilst wandering up and down the stands I passed a stand from one of the high streets banks. The young lad on the stand caught my eye and asked “Can I speak to you about business banking?”
I was soon drawn into a general chat with him about business banking and my needs. He asked if I saw my needs changing and if so to what? Then the killer question. “Does your current bank provide you with what you need?” I found myself telling him what Clive needed to know. No, they didn’t really. I needed to be able to do more mobile banking and I needed more flexibility. Matt now had loads of information about what I needed, what I didn’t get from my current bank. Whether I move to his bank or not, he had more knowledge about clients’ needs than Clive from my bank did.
Do you think your staff are listening to what clients are saying?
The thing is this, Matt now has loads of great information which could be used to inform the bank. But will he know that? Does he realise the gems of information he has? Would he know how to use that information to help the bank move forward?
If this was your bank, or indeed any other corporate company what could you do to encourage staff to think in a more enterprising way so that they not only hear those messages from customers, but know how to use them to help the company grow?
This is all about enabling the staff to see and hear things which will enable the company to grow and know how to use that information in the best way. Take, for example, if a staff member is speaking to a client who decides not to make a purchase on this occasion. The client may tell the member of staff the reason why. This information can then be considered in future decision making, maybe around options, price or availability. It’s simple. Staff need to understand the value of the feedback they hear on the decision making of the company and know the right way to feed that information in so it can benefit the whole company.
In the case of the bank they can easily have staff thinking about the three main areas for growth in any company:
- Can I do something to save the company money?
- Can I help to increase income?
- Can I help to develop a new idea / new income stream?
This would mean that when a customer or potential customer speaks to any member of staff in the bank, what they say can be considered by the staff member with those three areas in mind.
Therefore if my Relationship Manager from the bank speaks to me about my account and dealings with the bank whilst they are speaking to me about the general day to day stuff, they will also be considering other things they can do for me and the bank to help my experience of dealing with them and enable both myself and the bank to grow by providing me with the solutions I need.
This not only helps both myself and the bank, but other potential clients who have the same needs – how easy is that? Empower your staff members to listen to the needs of clients and then, if possible, deliver them. This means your development will be customer led rather than executive team led.