|This is the fifth of fourteen factors that could prevent you from growing your service business. It’s a subtle one, probably somewhat invisible and a little fuzzy. Yet, it can be the underlying reason why companies have a hard time adapting to the changes required in changing markets, learning how to use technology, adjusting to trends and wants of today’s clients and figuring out how to compete and maximize the growth potential of the business.When you work with someone for awhile, you begin to realize what’s important to them. For example, being recognized, making money, being in control, and helping clients grow their business, to name a few. If you ever pointed it out to them directly, many people would not realize it or even deny it. They can’t see or hear themselves. Yet, you can hear their motivations in their language and watch it in their actions.Just as in any organization, what really matters shapes the structure of the business. Occasionally, you need to reflect on that and it must be uncovered and realized so that you’re dealing with the reality of your marketplace and not just some old design. No new slogans or marketing campaign will change how the business is structured. If a service business is just about money for the owners, then it shows up in the actions, attitudes and behaviours of the staff. When you seriously want to be about your customers’ business, then you would re-structure the business and all its activities to do so.
Dale Carnegie taught us that others aren’t interested in our goals or our wants – they’re only interested in their own. Our clients want us to be interested in their interests and challenges. They want us to know their business, industry, its trends and what they’re going through, especially when it’s so easy today to access information and be digitally connected through social media. Clients want us to solve their problems, not just our own.
As in any successful business, arrogance and management drift can set in. We can act like we have all the answers and do more talking than asking and listening. In some environments, like it is for most professional service companies, most employees are paid for what they know and are charged out as the product, so it’s easy for them to seem somewhat arrogant. And most of the staff are technical people who are more interested in their technical work than in others. They tend to be inner-directed. As a result, they need to learn people awareness and develop competencies in handling feelings. Generally, many are just not comfortable and confident when it comes to the people side of the business. As a result, leadership, change management, marketing and sales for non-traditional staff is a big challenge.
In one of our research papers, it clearly concluded that 34% of respondents said the execution of innovative, relevant and helpful client experiences was the biggest priority in growing their business. To achieve this “experience innovation”, companies work towards becoming sophisticated and strategic in gaining a deeper understanding of the needs, behaviours and expectations of customers and employees. Yes, employees. If the solution is innovation and a firm needs to make it happen, what are leaders doing to improve their customer focus, engaging and building the client-advocate skills of their team and recruitment of talent who have client-focused temperaments.
Our research respondents make training and development of their staff the number three most required action. 52% of companies surveyed, stated that they will be increasing their budgets for training and coaching in the coming year.
The key to business growth is to design and structure the business to be about a primary choice to be about helping clients succeed, narrow in on who your clients are, establish what they need and want, create innovative, relevant and helpful offerings and to ensure you go after them with communications that is direct and compelling and let’s your clients know you are matching up with what they need and want. Then you organize your operations to ensure your client experiences support the offerings. This requires hunting for and developing a team interested in and competent in making all of this work.
- Can your present design pull you towards an outer-client focus? Test it – What gets the most rewards and recognition at your place?
- What are common conversations about? Are they from an inner, operational mindset, the internal problems, management, not enough money, or poor margins? Those demanding clients? The rough tough marketplace? Or are they about a more outstanding delivery of your services?
- Are you actually involved in determining your targets, their profile, and trends they are experiencing?
- Are you uncovering, from your inquiries with your clients, what they’re going through and need more help with?
- Are you engaged in studying research about your markets, your industry?
- Are you setting up an innovation team to do something with the new insights?
- What is your present budget for developing talent? Is it going up or down?
Oh that’s not us… Or is it you?
The good news is that every group can wake up its awareness of what is important, rediscover where to find more clients and become a constant learning organization. It usually takes a nudge from outside experts, but its done everyday. You live in the most exciting time to be in the service business in Ontario’s history. It could be time to re-energize your focus – to narrow it down then broaden your performance.
What stood out for you this morning?
What’s your action?
Next week. Factor Number Six.