THE PROBLEM WITH FAT AND HAPPY
Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly
When I started my business in 2009, most companies were desperately trying to hang on, or were not taking chances with their success. They were investing in their sales process to remain a viable business or to ensure their success. The biggest challenge was budget due to the economy and the effect it had on their business.
Now, I’m seeing a disturbing trend towards apathy around improvement. To be transparent, it is related to my own frustration with getting new clients to move forward. However, just yesterday, one of my clients said it out loud. So, I think I am on to something.
One service I provide clients is getting customer feedback. We seek to understand their point of view while also seeing the bigger picture. For instance: If a company is growing, the most important measure may be revenue and profitability to this company. However, when you listen to the voice of the customer, it may reveal the underlying foundation for the business is not strong enough to sustain that growth.
From my experience, it is common for successful entrepreneurs and CEOs to ignore underlying issues when times are good. Here are two examples of companies who are in this situation.
Company A is on a great growth trajectory. The industry is growing. They have acquired a lot of new components to round out their product and service offerings. They are considered a leader in the industry by many. Their clients echoed this point of view…with a qualifier. The personalized customer service is suffering. Requests for changes or solutions to software problems are taking too long. One customer has been waiting over a year for changes. The clients are faithful since it is hard to make a change in this industry. However, many of them ended the conversation with, “I’m waiting to see what the company does…”
At the beginning of this year, Company A made the decision they did not need our help. They were too busy. 2016 was a great year and 2017 was expected to be the same. Fast forward to the end of the first quarter: Sales did not go as expected. It was described as a “challenging quarter” for the business. Budgets are now tight and they are not sure they can afford to invest in help for their sales organization.
This is a rapidly growing technology company. They discovered a niche where they were first to market. Within 18 months, the company more than doubled in size and has continued to grow. We conducted a survey of their clients a year ago. The feedback was, at best, average around customer loyalty and satisfaction for this niche. They saw it and committed to making changes to improve it.
Fast forward to 2017: Their customer satisfaction and loyalty has continued to decline but their growth has masked the problems. They still are a leader within the niche, so customers don’t have many alternatives. Is that enough? What I warned them about is the hidden competition: Emerging competitors they don’t know about. If they can emerge as a leader in the industry in less than 18 months, so can somebody else.
The good news is, the CEO and the executive team are committed to changing it – now. They have begun looking at their company and getting deeper into the conversation with their clients to better understand how they can improve the experience. They are creating action plans and milestones to measure their progress. They are investing now, while times are good. I have confidence they will come out of this a stronger, more successful company because of their determination to make it right.
Should You Invest Now?
I encourage you to stop drinking the elixir of success. It can blur your judgement. What help do you need now? I.T. infrastructure? Marketing? Product Development? Leadership Development? Process documentation to create scale? Sales? You probably know the answer to this question.
Assess how healthy your company is today!
Listening to your customers is great way to start. Or, listen to your team. They know. You just need to create the environment where they are comfortable to speak up.
This is the first step to creating a company that can maximize the upside, and withstand challenges when they come… because they will.