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Success Means Solving Customers’ Challenges

Visit Strokes of Genius to read more stories about the technologies behind the paints and coatings that are transforming everything–from the way we work to the way we fly.

Companies that serve a wide spectrum of markets with diverse products often view their breadth as a potent cross-selling opportunity–and they’re right. But PPG understands that adapting product technologies from one market to solve the problems of another requires more than a desire to grow the business.

First and foremost, such cross-selling requires being close to the customer and focusing on solving customer challenges. Clearly illustrating the effectiveness of this approach has been PPG’s successful application of technology developed for marine coatings customers to solve a problem for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The opportunity surfaced when an onsite PPG support team at an assembly plant of a major automotive original equipment manufacturer saw an opportunity to help address a problem the carmaker was having with maintaining a key piece of paint shop equipment. The metal carriers that move cars through the manufacturing line were quickly becoming coated with thick, dripping paint, which required frequent cleaning with high-pressure spray.

Greater efficiency and safety

The problem added cost and was a safety concern. “It’s been an issue for decades” with carmakers, says Kevin Cunningham, PPG custom platform manager for substrate protection systems, who joined PPG after a 40-year career with major automotive manufacturer. “It’s a major hassle and expense. Plus, the power-washing equipment needs to be operated at extremely high pressures, so it’s also dangerous for the operators.”

After identifying the problem, the PPG team set in motion an initiative to identify and adapt existing PPG technology to solve this problem. The initial contact between PPG’s customer technical team led to the identification of a technology used in the oil and gas industry as a potential solution for protecting the automotive paint-shop car carriers. The final product, PPG ENVIROGREEN® 84, resists damage in the operating environment, but it also resists adhesion of dirt and is easy to clean.

A better solution

Where a typical car carrier might have to be taken out of service for cleaning every 300 to 350 cycles, a carrier coated with PPG Envirogreen 84 can go thousands of cycles between cleanings. After the initial application, another trial took place at a different customer’s assembly plant. The success of that trial led to a full-scale commercialization effort in 2018 that demonstrated the power of “One PPG.” Two PPG teams collaborated to develop documentation and application guides for PPG Envirogreen 84, sales strategies for reaching the decision-makers, and a turn-key solution that includes application.

“It really took off,” says Chris Meier, PPG’s protective and marine coatings national accounts manager. “We have been able to adapt an existing technology for a new market that could ultimately represent significant new business.”

He added that nearly all major automotive OEMs are adopting PPG Envirogreen 84 to coat car carriers at new plants as well as some existing facilities. In addition to illustrating the power of cooperation across business units, the PPG Envirogreen 84 example shows the importance of being close to the customer, according to Randy Peterson, director, business development, PPG’s automotive OEM services.

“It’s a big win,” he says, “that all began by leveraging our daily presence within the customer’s plant and finding a way to create and share in the resulting value.”

By: PPGView

Source: Success Means Solving Customers’ Challenges

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Watch Chuck Wood explain how HPE SimpliVity is helping customers solve IT challenges. Learn more about HPE SimpliVity at http://www.hpe.com/info/simplivity.

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Why Customer Engagement Should Be Every Business’s Top Priority in 2020

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Everyone’s talking about customer engagement — but why is it so important, and what does it really mean? How does customer engagement look in action, when you’re a business trying to connect with your customers today?

We already know a lot about the customer journey — how it’s made up of numerous touch points, from search to purchase to post-purchase support. And we know that providing a good customer experience at each of those touch points is critical to building and maintaining a solid reputation for your brand. But customer engagement is often overlooked, even though it’s critical to nudging customers along their journey.

Customer Engagement Impacts Profitability

Customer engagement is about inspiring your customers to interact with your brand and willingly take part in the experiences you’re creating for them. If you do it right, you’ll grow your brand and build customer loyalty — and, in turn, drive revenue.

In fact, there’s a direct and proven correlation between the level of customer engagement and business profitability. A study by Constellation Research reported that companies who improve engagement can increase cross-sell revenue by 22 percent, up-sell revenue by 38 percent and order size by 5 to 85 percent. Reputation.com research backs up these findings —  a high rate of customer engagement increases Reputation Score, and we’ve found direct links between high Scores and revenue in multiple industries, including Automotive and Healthcare.

Today In: Small Business

Despite the immense financial impact engaging with customers can have, some companies are still not doing it.

Case in Point: Retail

In the recently released Retail Reputation Report, data scientists at Reputaiton.com found that most retailers simply don’t respond to reviews — particularly negative ones. Think about the message that sends! I’m a customer who’s had a bad experience with a business, so I do the only constructive thing I can do to express my frustration: I write a review.

Probably like most consumers, I assume the business will care if I have had a negative experience and try to fix it. If they do, they’re better off. If they don’t, I might be left feeling like they simply don’t care what kind of experience I’ve had. Am I likely to buy products from that business again? Well, much less likely, right? And if I do, I’m not going to feel good about it. I may tell my friends I dislike that business, and they’ll probably avoid it in the future, too. Perhaps most importantly, I will almost certainly not say GOOD things about the business to my friends.

When someone takes time to leave a review — good or (especially) bad — it’s the ideal time to engage. We all get this, but surprisingly, the average response rate to negative reviews among leading retailers is just 2 percent. It’s no wonder Amazon is eating away at retailers’ market share, with their frictionless shopping experience and infinite inventory.

Now let’s consider a brand who does a good job of engaging with customers. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack scored exceptionally high for engagement, compared to many other retailers (61% and 79% respectively). That’s because they place a premium on delivering exceptional service and ensuring their customers are happy and engaged. And maybe that’s one of the reasons that, while many retailers are struggling to keep their doors open, Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack are still reporting strong profits.

Investing In Customer Experience Is a Huge Lever for Revenue

The power of engaging and connecting with customers isn’t limited to the B2C world. According to Econsultancy’s Annual Digital Trends report, B2B companies identify customer experience — the product of meaningful customer engagement — as the single most exciting opportunity for 2020.

Temkin Group reports that companies that earn $1 billion annually can earn $775 million more within three years of investing in customer experience with “modest” results. The report found that to be true across industries, with software companies earning the most ($1 billion over three years). Success, effort and emotion, according to the report, were the three factors impacting customer loyalty, and an improvement in emotion increases loyalty more than any other factor. A meaningful customer engagement is the best way to stir up the positive emotions that keep customers coming back.

Take a Walk In Your Customer’s Shoes

So how do you connect with customers on an emotional level and improve customer engagement? Here are a few starting points:

  • Analyze the customer journey. How else can you know what the customer’s experience with your brand or locations is like? Take their journey, and take note of and sticking points or frustrating interactions. Are the emails you’re sending helpful and informative, or intrusive and self-serving? Are your locations easy to get to and welcoming? Is your staff friendly and professional? Do you follow up after customer interactions and respond to reviews? Every one of these customer touchpoints presents an opportunity for engaging with your customers in a mutually beneficial way. Make sure you’re doing that, and if you’re not, it’s time to start.
  • Listen to what customers say about you. Today’s customers are vocal, and it’s easy to find feedback on Google, Facebook, G2 and other review sites. You should also invest in social media management, so you can actively monitor social commentary and reviews as they come in — 42% of customers expect a response within 60 minutes, and a delayed response is almost as bad as no response.
  • Deliver seamless omnichannel experiences. If you analyze the customer journey properly, you’ll find brand interactions occur across many channels — search results, emails, websites, physical locations and even text. Make sure to deliver a consistent and pleasant experience every time you engage with your customer, regardless of channel. One bad or confusing interaction can ruin the opportunity to engage effectively, and could even begin to break down the trust and loyalty you’ve invested in building.
  • Pay attention to all factors that comprise your Reputation Score. Increasingly, brands are turning to Reputation Score as the most accurate measurement of customer experience. It’s more thorough than NPS, because it takes into account all the factors affecting your reputation. A critical component of the score is engagement, as measured by your brand’s performance across every customer touch point. Knowing and monitoring your Reputation Score is an essential step to mastering the art  — and reaping the benefits — of customer engagement.

Don’t Force It

An important thing to remember is you can’t force your customers to engage with you. As HubSpot’s Paul Greenberg said, “Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.” The customer decides how to interact and engage — you can only create the opportunities, and ensure that your diligent effort and reputation inspire people to take action.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m the Founder and Chairman of Reputation.com. I started my business because digital privacy, Big Data and online reputation are issues that impact everyone from individuals to massive corporations. People should be the center of the Internet machine – not cogs in its wheel. More empowerment online, not less, not what we have now. Follow me @michaelfertik.

Source:https://www.forbes.com

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Session recording from Industry Preview 2018. Session abstract: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Chief Strategy Officer, Jon Suarez-Davis (“JSD”) keynotes an engaging session drawing upon real life examples from working with some of the world’s biggest brands, shares Salesforce’s vision for the future of marketing, and makes some predictions about what’s coming next.

How Do You Build a Customer Base? Follow These Steps

Many factors will determine how good a story is. Some variables are beyond your control, such as how forthcoming your subject will be, or what (maybe dumb) headline your editor will write. But the factor you can control is how much research you conduct, the questions you ask, and the follow-ups that help you find the information that really matters.

Related: What Work Should You Outsource?

I used to joke that writing was a two-part job. First, you have to be a miner, doing the grunt work. If you want gold or diamonds, you’d better be willing to dig deep in your reporting. The second part — writing — gets all the glory, but it’s really just polishing. If you’ve already found a beautiful diamond, it’s hard to mess it up.

Growing an audience is no different. You want to tell your brand story, but before you start polishing your marketing campaigns, you need to go mining: Ask your audience so many questions that you know them inside and out.

Connecting with an audience is harder than ever because of all the noise on social media and other platforms. In order to thrive in today’s digital environment, you need to have a deep understanding of what “job” your potential customers will pay you to do. In order to get that, you must speak to people directly.

Surveys and form questions are not enough; in-person conversations allow you to gather insights by reacting to people’s responses, hearing their tone of voice, and recognizing when there is more information hiding within a shallow answer.

But most people skip this part of the marketing process because it’s time-consuming. Even if they do it, they’re not always productive. The majority of market-research interviews consist of asking customers why they bought your product or service.

But this is a mistake. People will unknowingly tell you what they think you want to hear, oftentimes repeating your marketing back to you. Moreover, they won’t be able to articulate why they feel this way — so they’ll simply invent a reason.

Related: How Much Should You Spend on Social Media Marketing?

To work around these human habits, there’s a technique called jobs to be done (JTBD), which requires you to interview potential customers in order to truly understand their needs and wants. Not everyone can do JTBD; it takes someone who is skilled in both the process of leading the interview and in drawing conclusions and providing direction for your business.

Years ago, at my consulting company, I hired the best JTBD expert I knew, and I’ve never looked back. (You can also pay for courses and learn the method yourself.) Instead of just considering the functions that people want from a product or service, JTBD digs into the multifaceted nature of decision-making.

That’s what makes it more powerful than data — it helps you understand consumers’ social and emotional drivers and paints a complete picture of what “job” people want from you.

Related: How to Make Smart Hires on a Tight Budget

Once you understand your job — and your core customers — the path forward gets easier. You’re finally in a position to polish: create effective ads, engage with platforms where you’re most likely to find additional consumers, and present them with incentives and pricing that will appeal and convert.

Growth is no longer about wondering if you know what you should do. It’s simply about how well you can execute on your plan.

Related:

How Do You Build a Customer Base? Follow These Steps.

How to Create an Online Course for an Engaged Audience

10 Prominent Women Education Leaders Share Steps to Improve the U.S. Education System

By: Adam Bornstein

Source: How Do You Build a Customer Base? Follow These Steps.

943K subscribers
Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Focus on attracting your customers and spending time holding on to them. Watch this video for specific examples. Remember, there is nothing more important than a happy customer. What is the one thing you can do immediately to make your customers happier than anyone else? Download my free leadership questionnaire to get clarity on every area of your business here: http://ow.ly/LUIww

Cyber Monday 2019 By The Numbers: A Record $9.4 Billion Haul

Topline: With the busy holiday shopping season well under way, Cyber Monday raked in a new record of more than $9 billion in sales, marking the first day in history when consumers spent over $3 billion using their smartphones, the latest report from Adobe Analytics shows.

  • Total sales hit $9.4 billion—up nearly 19% from a $7.9 billion haul last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions from a majority of top U.S. online retailers. That’s bigger than both Black Friday ($7.4 billion) and Amazon Prime Day ($4.2 billion last year).
  • As shoppers increasingly move to digital rather than in-person spending, online sales via smartphones grew 46% from last year, accounting for 33% of all Cyber Monday sales in 2019—at a new record of $3 billion, according to Adobe Analytics data.
  • During the peak hour of shopping between 11:00 p.m. ET and midnight, consumers spent $11 million on average every minute, Adobe said.
  • The top-selling products on Monday included Frozen 2 toys, the Nintendo Switch, VR devices, Samsung TVs, LOL Surprise Dolls, Apple laptops, NERF products and video games like Madden 20 and Jedi Fallen Order, Adobe’s report shows.
  • With more competition among retailers than ever, the report also highlights the 41% growth of BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) services this year, as shoppers increasingly looked for maximum convenience and time saving.
  • “Customers increasingly have a bigger basket of fulfillment options,” points out Morningstar analyst Zain Akbari, with more large retailers like Walmart and Target increasingly competing to offer cheaper and more efficient pickup or delivery services.

Big number: As of December 3, the holiday season has generated a record $81.5 billion in total online sales so far, Adobe Analytics data shows. Overall holiday spending for 2019 is predicted to hit $143.8 billion, compared with $126 billion last year.

Today In: Money

Crucial quote: “Retailers unlocked sales earlier to combat a shorter shopping season, while continuing to drive up promotion of the big branded days including Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said John Copeland, head of marketing and consumer insights at Adobe. “Consumers capitalized on deals and ramped up spending, especially on smartphones, where activity increased on days when shoppers were snowed or rained in.”

Tangent: While Cyber Monday saw the best deals on televisions, with average savings of more than 19%, December 27 will be the day with the biggest discounts on electronics (27%), according to Adobe’s findings.

Surprising Fact: U.S. shoppers will on average each spend $637 this holiday season, according to Accenture’s annual Holiday Shopping Survey.

Further Reading: Here’s What Not To Buy On Black Friday, According To Experts (Sergei Klebnikov)

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes, covering breaking news—with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I’ve reported at Money Magazine, The Villager NYC, and The East Hampton Star. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com

Source: Cyber Monday 2019 By The Numbers: A Record $9.4 Billion Haul

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Big-box stores including Target and Kohl’s are offering massive discounts on items such as Instapots, Roombas and doorbuster deals online. WATCH THE FULL EPISODES OF ‘WORLD NEWS TONIGHT’: https://bit.ly/2P5Snrx WATCH OTHER FULL EPISODES OF WORLD NEWS TONIGHT: http://abc.go.com/shows/world-news-to… WATCH WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ON HULU: https://hulu.tv/33iKepm #WorldNewsTonight #DavidMuir #CyberMonday #HolidayShopping

 

3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

275K subscribers
Tutorial starts at 1:20 Whether you’re starting a new business or just trying to get your existing business a bit more organized, writing a business plan is the perfect way to clearly outline how your business operates, declare goals, and set out a strategy to reach those goals. In this video you’ll learn about the six essential pages every business plan should have, what to record on each of those pages, and also how to write your business plan as quickly and easily as possible — even if you’re a complete beginner! 🔹 Download the FREE Six-Step Business Success Plan: https://www.gillianperkins.com/downlo… // WHAT TO WATCH NEXT Six Ways to Earn Six Figures Working from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1i8x… How I (actually) Got My First Client Online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST3P… How I Created Multiple Streams of Income for Myself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfaH_… How to Decide What Business to Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mid_A… // LINKS Learn more about Gillian and find resources to build your online business: https://www.gillianperkins.com Join our private Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/start… Follow Gillian on Instagram to get a BTS look at what it’s like to be a digital entrepreneur: https://www.instagram.com/gillianzper… // MAIL Gillian Perkins International P.O. Box 13573 Salem, OR 97309 NOTE: This description may contains affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, this channel may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support! KEYWORDS how to write a business plan, free business plan, do i need a business plan, #entrepreneurship, #gillianperkins, business plan how-to guide, business plan step by step, business plan tips ,gillian perkins, gillianperkins, do you need a business plan, How To Write a Business Plan To Start Your Own Business, how to write a business plan step by step, business plan for beginners, simple business plan, business 101, business plan template, business plan example, how to write a business plan for beginners

Why Your Customers Should Be Central To Your Innovation Efforts

There’s a big mistake that a lot of companies make. It’s one that until a few years ago was common in my own organization, and it stems from a worthy goal: to boost innovation. The mistake is adopting what I call the “science fair” mentality: encouraging employees throughout the organization to innovate freely but without much, if any, direct contact with the very customers these innovations are intended for.

Unconstrained innovation sounds exciting, like the sort of thing startups do. But the truth is that successful startups actually don’t do that, because they know that innovation without a framework rarely leads to business success. It does lead to inventions that are impressive and creative, but they ultimately prove impractical or irrelevant for driving business growth.

How, then, can you get employees to innovate products and services that actually improve the performance of your business? The answer is by creating a structure that involves your customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Focusing on the customer (for real)

It’s a rare company these days that doesn’t claim to put its customers first. It’s also a rare company that doesn’t do market research. But what is exceptional is a company with a framework to channel innovative energies so that they solve customer pain points and result in a commercial outcome the market will pay for.

Getting employees to innovate products and services that improve the performance of your business requires a structure that involves customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Building this framework does not mean stifling creative energies under a heavy layer of bureaucracy. Rather, it means making sure that the innovation responds to customer needs and has the flexibility to evolve as you better understand those needs.

For instance, one of the projects I lead at PwC, the Global Innovation Challenge, could be a model for your organization. Invite employees from around your network, from all disciplines, to submit early-stage, technology-enabled business solutions. But require that before a team can enter the contest, it must include examples of marketplace interest — not just an explanation of how (and how soon) the project will meet specific client needs, but also feedback from potential or actual clients on a prototype or pilot.

Internal incubators are also ways you can create ongoing feedback loops with the marketplace. Multiple customer and third-party interviews and growing signs of market interest are required for a project to receive and keep funding from these groups. As you assess the customers’ feedback, the teams make changes in line with the customers’ needs — and if the market response isn’t promising, you pull the plug.

Four steps to make customers your innovation partners

No part of this process is improvised: Criteria and milestones are critical, including a framework that ensures that the customers are guiding the innovation. To take just one example, before PwC New Ventures, an internal software-as-a-service incubator, releases the first round of funding for a project, it needs to see at least 20 interviews with customers. Indeed, many projects have more than 100 interviews over the development period.

Here are some ideas to get that innovation-guiding framework started:

1. Get specific. It’s not enough to say “talk to customers” or “research the market.” Set specific criteria for the quantity and quality of customer interviews.

2. Set milestones. Even after you’ve made the decision to invest in an innovative project, continue to check not just technical progress, but also customer feedback, on a regular basis.

3. Offer expert guidance. Brilliant technical minds aren’t always brilliant at interacting with customers. Assign a person or team to train technical people on customer outreach, and to do the outreach directly when needed.

4. Set procedures to react. Ensure that the team has the time and the processes to reflect on market feedback and adjust design appropriately. Be ready, if the feedback is poor, to terminate the project and reallocate resources.

What happens when you listen

A team at PwC recently developed a new tool for franchise owners designed to quickly, easily, and digitally market their stores. The team planned to make this digital platform the core feature of a new product.

Following our framework — and our core principle of customer-driven innovation — PwC team members reached out to customers. Listening to the franchise owners, the team learned that one of their top priorities was to support their customers, the franchisees. So the team members went back to work, adding components that the owners could use to help franchisees reach their end-users. The resulting product that was introduced to the marketplace attempted to solve problems for our clients while enabling them to solve problems for their clients.

The result of listening with empathy and emotional intelligence is that you will be able to not just mostly fulfill a customer’s needs but truly fulfill them, which is usually the difference between that customer ultimately buying or not buying your product.

Another big benefit of really listening is stronger customer relationships. After frequent interactions with your design teams to ensure that the final product will meet your customers’ needs, these customers start to view your people as partners and friends. And frequently, customers discover needs — which your new product or service can meet — that they didn’t even know they had.

If your innovation efforts are to truly add value to your business, customer-centricity will have to be more than a motto. It will have to be a framework to turn your customers into your innovation partners. The insights they bring will make all the difference in ensuring that the product not only solves their problems, but also provides an exceptional experience they’ll keep coming back for.

Vicki Huff By: Vicki Huff

Source: Why your customers should be central to your innovation efforts

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A Simple Hack to Discover What Your Customers Really Want

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As a business owner, you think about your customers every day. Still, it’s a good idea to make time to regularly reflect on how your products and services meet their current needs. This begs the question to small business owners and entrepreneurs alike: “What do my customers really want?”

 

There’s no single way to answer this question. How you gather your data will depend on your business, and it may change over time. Kabbage customers explain below a simple hack to getting to know your customers better: simply asking them.

 

Ongoing survey data guides bakery choices

The humble suggestion box used to be a fixture in many businesses seeking input from customers. Today, business owners have digital tools for gathering suggestions, making it easy to find out what customers want. Laura and Johnny Hobson, owners of Serendipity Cafe in Maynard, Massachusetts, make a habit of surveying customers on everything from bread preferences to cafe hours.

 

“We really try to connect with the community,” Laura says. When she and Johnny started out with a farmers market stand, they collected customer email addresses; in the cafe, customers can add addresses in the point-of-sale system. Laura and Johnny then use online tools like SurveyMonkey to ask for feedback.

 

The survey results guidedthe couple when they launched the cafe and new data helps them ponder new products and services. “When we were outgrowing the farmers market, we asked really specific questions about how often people would come to a cafe, what products they would buy, and what the town already had enough of,” Laura says.

Adjusting pricing and creating a welcoming vibe

 

For Michelle Baker, owner of Next Level Fitness and Personal Training in Kansas City, Missouri, asking, listening and observing is key to understanding what local residents needed. She worked for another personal trainer before opening her own gym, and heard clients complain about high prices for classes and personal training sessions.

As a 23-year resident of her moderate-income neighborhood, Baker knew that locals couldn’t afford hundreds of dollars a month for training. She also knew that her neighbors had unique wellness challenges, like diabetes and weight control, which might make them hesitant to work out in a crowded gym with body-building regulars. For many people in her community, fitness is about developing healthier habits.

 

When Baker launched Next Level Fitness with her husband in 2009, she knew that affordability and an inclusive, welcoming gym environment were key to growing the business. “We had to keep prices low enough so that the average person would come to us,” Baker says. Next Level offers an introductory six-week program of training sessions for $99, an accessible price point for her customers.

 

Baker and her husband boost cash flow by teaching small group training sessions. “That way we maximize the time we spend training,” she says. She’s also added services that will help her customers achieve their fitness and health goals, like nutritious ready-to-cook meals.

 

To ease customer concerns about working out with others, Baker posts regular videos on her Facebook page showing the diversity of body types, fitness levels and ages of her clients. “When people see the videos, they think ‘I see people who look like me,'” Baker says. “They know no one’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. We’re a smaller, friendly gym where everyone knows everyone, and no one feels out of place.”

2019 Tax Refund Chart Can Help You Guess When You’ll Receive Your Money


If anyone tells you that they have the 2019 tax filing season all figured, they’re lying. By all accounts, the upcoming tax season is going to be tricky. Despite a shoestring staff due to the shutdownnew tax forms and new tax rules, the 2019 tax season is still set to open on January 28, 2019. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claims that the season will operate as close to normal as possible—including issuing tax refunds. So when are those tax refunds coming……….
Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2019/01/21/2019-tax-refund-chart-can-help-you-guess-when-youll-receive-your-money/#6522e9684ba2

How Bloomingdale’s Is Reinventing The Beauty Shopping Experience

Department stores are in the battle for their lives. Classed in the category of general merchandise stores in Census Department’s Monthly Retail Trade Survey, department stores, excluding discounters, shrunk 2.1% year-over-year through October 2018, as compared to the entire general merchandise category, which posted healthy 3.5% growth. In the last ten years, department stores have experienced a massive 30% drop in sales…….

Source: How Bloomingdale’s Is Reinventing The Beauty Shopping Experience

Reclusive Millionaire Warns: “Get Out of Cash Now”

Something strange is going on in the financial system. And according to The Financial Times, it’s about to send a massive flood of cash into the pockets of the most prepared Americans. What exactly is going on and what does it mean for your money? I recently met up with former hedge fund manager, Dr. Steve Sjuggerud — one of the most widely-followed financial analysts in the world. Today, he shuns the spotlight and lives on a remote island off the Florida coast. And he’s built a new life… and a substantial fortune… by sharing a series of eerie predictions. Many of which have proven correct…….

Source: Investing Outlook

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