This is going to be a short post. So you can get out there and start doing the things you need to help your small business.
The one thing you can do to help your small business today is: talk to customers. A very close second: talk to employees. In fact, you should do both of these every chance you get. Everyday even.
Let me quickly explain why, and give you some questions to get started.
Creating Feedback Loops
Feedback loops are a way to improve business performance, operations, systems and processes. They help business owners and managers to regularly identify areas for improvement.
Talking to customers and employees is one simple application of a feedback loop. You collect information from customers and employees that you analyze and use to make a decision. Once you put this decision into action you can then collect information from customers and employees on whether it’s working or not, and so the loop begins again.
You can create a simple feedback loop with three easy steps:
- Choose your goal: What would you like to learn about today? What part of your business would you like to work on? Where in your business do you think there might be risks, or improvements to make?
- Talk to customers and employees: Start with questions around your goal and see where the conversation goes.
- Analyze the results: Take the feedback from your conversations and look for any commonalities. Are customers particularly happy with one feature of your product or service? Likewise, what do they wish was better? Are employees happy in their roles, or are they at risk of leaving?
- Implement what you learn: Make the required changes to your business. Emphasize the parts of your product or service that customers like, and think of ways to improve on weaknesses. Put in place employee retention measures, or make sure you organize team-building events. Address the feedback you have received, whatever it may be.
Questions for Customers
This starts with one conversation. Go talk to your customers!
You can have a general conversation with them (which always has benefits) or start asking some of the following questions:
- Where did you first hear about us?
- Why did you choose to use our product or service over other options?
- Have you used a similar product or service before?
- How do you use our product or service?
- How can we make the product or service better?
- What, if anything, stops you from buying more?
- What are your main concerns or questions about the product or service?
- How would you describe the buying experience?
- How would you describe the customer service?
- Do you feel our product or service is worth the cost?
- What convinced you to buy the product or service?
- What do you like most about our product or service?
- What do you like least?
- What could we add to make your experience better?
- How could we have gone above and beyond?
Remember to collect the feedback and make the changes required to put what you learn into practice.
Questions for Employees
If you have already spoken to your customers, or don’t have access to them right now, you get the chance to talk to your employees.
So go talk to your employees!
Again, you can just have a general conversation (which always has benefits too) or start asking some of the following questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?
- What is the most meaningful part of your job?
- When do you have the most fun at work?
- Who do you want to get to know better about the business?
- Was there a recent team discussion or meeting where you did not get to share your thoughts? Would you like to share them now?
- Do any of our processes seem inefficient to you?
- How can we fix them?
- What do you need help with?
- Is there anything in your work world that’s causing frustration or delays?
- Looking back on the week, is there anything that could have gone better?
- Are you crystal clear on your role and what you should be working on?
- If not, what aspects aren’t clear?
- What do you think of the company culture?
Once again, remember to collect the feedback and make the changes required to put what you learn into practice.
Talking to customers and employees is the one thing you can do as a small business owner that will always be beneficial. It will build your rapport with them, increase their loyalty and most of all, give you some ideas on areas where you can improve your business.
Before you go...
We all know that small business is about doing the little things right.
The little optimisations, the high-impact tweaks and the 1% gains you can make to your business to make it a little better, a little more profitable and even a little bit more pleasant to run.
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