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    The Secret to Growing Your Business
    The Vault

    The Secret to Growing Your Business

    April 2019

    The Secret to Growing Your BusinessI think it’s safe to say that every business owner wants to experience real, rapid, and sustainable growth for their company. How to do that is the question. Is there a secret to business growth? I think there is.

    Creating happy clients and customers is the key to growing your business quickly and sustainably. That’s because happy customers are loyal customers who become powerful promoters of your business when they spread the word of your company to their friends and colleagues. Referrals are your best sales opportunities. So, the question on your mind should really be, “How do I make (and keep) my customers happy?”

    Reality vs. Expectation

    No matter the situation -- whether it’s a show, a book, a vacation, even a relationship -- our happiness with it is dictated by how the reality of our experience compared to our expectations of it. Think about it. Have you ever gone to a show expecting it to be great and then it was only OK? How did you feel? Likely, you came away feeling pretty unhappy. By contrast, if you attended something you didn’t think would be that good, but it turned out to be great, you were happy.

    I’m reminded of a situation about a year ago, during one of Charlotte’s infamous snow storms (which means it snowed a few inches one day but we were all stuck at home for days with roads covered in ice), when we rented the movie Jumanji on Amazon. How desperate had my stir-crazy, snow-bound self become, I thought, to relent to watching a movie about a group of teenagers who get sucked into a video game?! These were certainly desperate times. But, as it turns out, the movie was pretty funny. I was happy having seen it. Best movie ever? By no means. It’s not that good. It’s just that my experience with it far exceeded my expectations of it, and that made me happy.

    Expectation management is key to creating happy clients -- happy clients who then sing your praises and provide referrals. That’s where the balance between marketing and operations gets tricky. Whatever promises your marketing team makes, your operations team must be able to meet or exceed them. In other words, marketing messages set expectations. Operations must live up to (or go beyond) those expectations, or you’ll end up with disappointed customers. Do we even have to discuss the impact a disgruntled customer can have on your business? Absolutely nothing travels faster than bad news

    Here are our tips on managing expectations carefully:

    Be very specific about what you can deliver and when you can deliver it.

    If your product or service takes six months to create noticeable results, your sales and marketing teams shouldn’t be out there telling people that they’ll see an amazing change in three months. Make sure everyone on your team knows what’s possible so they don’t make promises you cannot keep.

    Give yourself a time cushion, and overdeliver when you can.

    It’s a huge pet peeve of mine (and I know I’m not alone in this) when somebody tells me they’ll have something done in a week but then they take three. That’s not a mistake you want to make with customers.

    When making a time commitment to someone, always give yourself room to beat the deadline, or at the very least, meet it. If it’s going to take you one day, tell them it’s going to take two. Then, when you beat that timeline, they’ll be thrilled.

    Look for opportunities to create 'wow' moments.

    “Go the extra mile” might sound a little cliche, and you may not always be able to do so. That’s okay. Sometimes just completing the task is enough. But, when the opportunity presents itself, going above and beyond to create a “wow” moment does wonders for customers’ overall sense of happiness with your service.  

    Here’s an example: A customer or client asks for help that goes beyond what you can deliver. Don’t just apologize and say you don't do that. Take a few moments to find someone in your network who can help them, and point them in that direction. If possible, throw in a few words of advice and perspective to help them out. Those extra few steps really impress.

    In short, do what you say you're going to do, and look for opportunities to surprise and delight your clients. None of this is revolutionary. In fact, it should be common sense. Still, I'm constantly surprised by how often businesses fail to meet these basic expectations.

    Bottom line? If you and your team can communicate well, act with integrity, generally get the job done right, and sometimes provide over-and-above service, you’ll stand out in a sea of mediocrity. Focus on the fundamentals, and manage the expectations of your customers and clients carefully and strategically. If you do this consistently, you'll have loyal customers and raving fans of your business. That’s the formula for real, rapid and sustainable business growth.

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