How Customer Service and Integrity Build Sustainable Businesses.
I met a gentleman today who has been running his late fathers business for the past 4 years.
The business has been in existence for the past 20 years, this in itself is a huge success.
Business Sustainability is the key to Success.
Sustainable growth is one of the biggest challenges that many business leaders face, but this problem is not new. No matter how big or small your business may be sustainability is rooted in a couple of simple concepts that if implemented well, deliver time and time again.
This simple Business Sustainability concept is this…
The Perfection of Purpose, Brand, Astounding Customer Service and Leadership
Customer service is derived from a number of underlying factors that when in place, produce higher levels of customer service by default.
The underlying factors of customer service are:
1 – Authentic Purpose
Your company needs to pin down the “why we do what we do.” This is the compass needle that guides every aspect and function in your business from recruitment to customer management to product development, marketing and sales.
A strong purpose drives growth and profitability.
In order to achieve sustainable success year on year, your companies must repeatedly examine your sense of purpose and make sure that your organization lives up to and serves this purpose well. An authentic and inspiring purpose helps your team strive for:
- Consistent focus
- Strong emotional engagement with both your company, your customers and partners
- Continuous, pragmatic innovation
Sales and marketing experts always talk about your “unique selling propositions,” or “USP,” which Entrepreneur defines as the
“factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”
Your company’s authentic purpose is the building block to your USP. When you have a clear vision, it’s easier to create products and services of value. Revlon founder Charles Revson, for instance, always used to say that he sold hope, not makeup.
2 – A Powerful Brand
If you want to create a scalable business, you have to understand how crucial it is to build brand equity and emotional connections with customers. It’s those attachments that link customers to your products and will keep them returning to you. Building a brand is about developing and sustaining those relationships over time.
Here are some guidelines to connect, shape, influence, and lead with your products and brands:
- Identify your target audience. The quickest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people.
- Connect with the public but more specifically with your ideal clients. Your presentation should make them feel an emotional attachment to your brand that’s grounded in confidence in your products.
- Inspire your customers. A simple, inspirational message is far more influential than one that tries to highlight too many product features, functions, or ideas. Remember that is is not about selling but building relationships based on trust.
No marketing plan can rescue a brand identity that isn’t fully formed. So even if you don’t have much of a marketing budget, creating compelling content for publishers and social media sites to start generating awareness among target customer bases, will go along way in building your brand.
3 – Build Joint Venture Opportunities and Partnerships
Doing everything yourself can be tempting and often necessary in the beginning when you are finding your feet and the funds are low. There’s nothing wrong with a hands-on approach, but taking on more than you can handle, especially in areas where you lack experience, can be damaging to your business. In the era of the global freelance economy, it isn’t difficult to find talented expertise.
4 – Customer Retention
Finding new clients costs an average of 60% more than retaining and servicing current customers. Interestingly, a 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as decreasing a company’s costs by 10%. In other words, reducing customer churn rates by just 5% could increase profitability by 25% to 130%. This is depending on the industry you serve.
Some stats to consider on customer retention:
- The average business loses around 50% of its customer base every five years.
- Companies are four times more likely to do business with an existing customer than a new customer.
- The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, whereas it’s just 5-20% for a new customer.
It becomes clear the customer retention is key to business sustainability. If you don’t retain customers or you believe that you only sell once-off items it may be time to diversify your offer and build in some kind of retention plan. This may be based on up-selling and cross-selling plans. Consider offering maintenance contracts, subscriptions or some offer that encourages repeat business.
Retention starts with the initial contact or sale your business makes with a customer and continues throughout the lifetime of the relationship with ongoing sales to these customers. For certain industries, a 10% increase in customer retention is equivalent to a 30% increase in a company’s value.
5 – Community
Most sustainable businesses have to build a community of either raving fans or people dependant on their services and products. This becomes the ecosystem of the business that consistently feeds itself and although it needs consistent growth to survive for the long term, in the short-term, cash flow remains positive by the virtue of the ecosystem.
Find ways of building your ecosystem around your products and services based on the needs, wants and desires of your clients.
6 – Repeatable Sales
Your product and brand no matter how unique are not enough for successful business sustainability. It takes a repeatable sales processes to create a scalable and sustainable business. It’s one thing to sign up a few customers; it’s another thing to design and implement sales processes that can be successfully deployed again and again at an ever greater scale.
This is how you know that your business will scale:
- You can add new staff at the same or higher productivity level as yourself or the sales leader.
- You can increase your customer base and leads on a consistent basis.
- Your sales conversion rate and revenue can be consistently forecast and projected.
- The cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.
- Customers get the right products in the right place at the right time.
A repeatable sales model builds your business platform to scale up. But it is no easy task and can take a lot of experimentation and research before you hit on a model that is truly sustainable.
7 – Adaptive Leadership
To keep your business growing, you and your staff must become the leader the business needs for each stage of growth. Your business needs should change continuously so too your leaders need to keep evolving at the right pace. Although difficult, this requires introspection, self-awareness, and a keen sense of strategy–both for the short and long term.
Business Sustainability is Difficult but highly achievable.
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