Setting objectives and priorities is over stated focus of any new year. Most of all of us do it personally and even more businesses certainly demand it. Strategic Discipline extends to recognizing the need for balance in the priorities and metrics you establish. You can place so much emphasis on attaining a priority or metric you may lose sight of the affect this effort puts on other aspects of your business. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In our Rockefeller Habits Workshops we tell the story of Delta Airlines emphasis to have their flights arrive on time. They reached their objective, however the affect of their efforts turned a positive into a negative when customers complained that their bags weren’t arriving on time.
As important as it is to get customer feedback it still surprises me that many businesses are not collecting this information. Customer feedback needs to reach the highest levels of the company. When you chose a priority that increases production, speed or efficiency it requires you measure customer feedback to ensure that the effort you made to improve performance is ultimately serving the most important measure of the business growth – customer satisfaction.
Determining customer satisfaction shouldn’t just be a number. Developing a system like Fred Reichheld The Ultimate Question – Customer Advocacy should be part of every business. It’s also important to monitor customer satisfaction daily and weekly, using pattern recognition in your meeting rhythms to closely keep a handle on what your customers are saying about you, good and bad.
Two of my clients are excellent examples of utilizing the NPS score that Fred Reichheld suggests. Last year was not an easy year for estate planning as congress sat on its hands determining government regulations for estate taxes. With no real direction, anyone wishing to plan an estate easily decided to wait since our government wasn’t clear on consequences for failing to make estate plans. Still my client measured his customers’ response to his innovative estate planning system and remarkably got scores back from his clients that score higher than the best NPS Leaders.
Another client whose story I outlined in my newsletter, Without A Plan Expect 40% Less, could point directly to his work on measuring customer satisfaction to the eventual sale of his business. He focused relentlessly on customer satisfaction, believing that if he satisfied his customers this effort would rebound on the fortunes of his company. It did. Reducing the time that his customer service reps took to respond to customers caught the attention of an industry consultant, which in turn got them a prominent spot at a major trade show. In one quarter that attention spring boarded his business to new sales growth and continues to hurdle the business forward. It allowed him the opportunity to sell his business this November, a goal he had from the time he and I met to begin working together.
Planning your objectives for 2011, or if you’ve already determined them, make sure you include a balancing measurement to ensure that whatever your energy is focused on doesn’t put the business out of proportion. And don’t forget the importance of customer feedback.