10 Paths to Growing Your Business

growth iq

Grow Your Company with Confidence

 

How organizations keep growing in the face of stiff competition, a fast-changing business environment, constant innovation, and technology changes is a constant issue for executives. In Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Tiffani Bova shares ten simple paths to growth in this environment.

Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Her work over the last twenty years spans startups to the Fortune 500. I recently spoke with her about her work.

 

“The one thing about growth is, it is never one thing.” – Tiffani Bova

 

Common Growth Mistakes

What are some of the common mistakes leaders make when trying to reenergize growth?

One of the most vexing challenges faced by executives is determining how best to grow their business. Unfortunately, these challenges to grow have multiplied in recent years. The problem is that too many companies respond to a competitive threat, or a market disruption, with a strategic business model that worked in the past and may not work in the future. Growth strategy is a thinking game that works when you have the right mindset to inform the when, where and why of every strategic move you make. I have yet to find a company that can attribute their growth to one silver bullet. The impact of combining multiple efforts will be greater than the sum of its parts. Reenergizing growth starts with being open to getting uncomfortable with the status quo and comfortable with change.

 

Why do companies so often fail to duplicate a growth strategy from an industry rival?

Too many companies ‘benchmark’ their company against their rival or a set of competitors in the same industry. While benchmarking can be a worthwhile exercise, it can also lend itself to a limited view of what is happening in the overall market. Widening the lens to look at overall context, on the other hand, allows companies to look for best practices from other sectors and learn from innovation happening across industries. What is happening in consumer spending patterns? What technology advancements have happened which you can capitalize on? How are people engaging with brands? What is the sentiment towards big social issues? The insights we can glean from these questions are invaluable when setting a growth strategy.

Furthermore, benchmarking is an outside-in view focused mostly on products and business models. Meaning, you are only able to understand their business from an outsider’s perspective. It is the inner workings, or the mental model, of a company’s growth strategy that is their ‘secret sauce’ – it is what differentiates them from each other especially in highly competitive markets.  The fact is, companies rarely have the same products, customers, value propositions or go-to-market strategies or more importantly, culture. So, attempting to replicate another company’s strategy, may sound like a good plan, yet rarely delivers expected results, or worse it could backfire and have long-term negative impact on the company overall. There are exceptions to this statement of course, especially in highly commoditized industries where ‘price’ is what companies compete on, but any value-based product will require more than that as a solid growth strategy.

 

“Customer Experience is the new Black.” – Tiffani Bova

 

The Challenge of Customer Experience

6 Principles of the Convenience Revolution

 

Amazing Customer Service

Whenever I hear the word “amazing,” I immediately think of my friend Shep Hyken. He probably has the work trademarked. Shep sets the bar high for customer experiences and challenges leaders everywhere to raise their game. It’s not enough to be good. You need to be AMAZING.

His newest book is amazing. It’s called The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience that Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty. It’s all about how to wow your customers by becoming more convenient. How do you make it easier to do business with you? Shep takes it one step farther, saying it’s not only for companies but also for individuals.

 

“People do business with people, not organizations—and they do more business, more often with AMAZING people.” -Shep Hyken

 

Shep Hyken is a customer service and customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He’s also a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and he has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.

 

“Amazement is all about showing up at the top of your game.” -Shep Hyken

 

In this video interview, we talk about the six principles of the convenience revolution. Shep shares examples ranging from 7-11, Amazon, Uber, Panera, Salesforce, Walmart, to small businesses like Shep’s personalized car dealership and a dentist that delivers wow experiences. Learn how these six principles can revolutionize your organization:Convenience Revolution

  1. Reducing friction
  2. Self service
  3. Technology
  4. Subscription
  5. Delivery
  6. Access

 

“What happens on the inside is felt on the outside by the customer.” -Shep Hyken

 

“Think of the relationship before you start reciting the rule book.” -Shep Hyken

What’s Your Digital Business Model?

Transform Your Business

Digital transformation. We read about it often. Organizational leaders struggle to determine the possible threats, the impending changes needed, the opportunities that are possible.

Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner’s new book, What’s Your Digital Business Model?, provides a strategic framework for thinking about these issues. Peter is a Senior Research Scientist and Chair of the Center for Information Systems Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Stephanie is also Research Scientist at the same institution with a specialty focusing on how companies manage organizational change caused by digital disruption.

I had the opportunity to speak with them about their research and new book.

 

Rate Your Digital Readiness

How would you rate most organizations readiness for the era of digital disruption that we are in and are facing?

Most organizations we talk to and research know they have to change to stay relevant and have improved in some areas (perhaps they’ve worked on business process optimization or they’ve automated a lot of processes). However, as customer experience demands have increased, we find that many older, bigger companies have not made the improvements and changes needed to address those demands. Plus the leaders of the average large company (more than $7B in revenue) identified that 46% of their revenues are under threat over the next 5 years if they don’t change.

 

Fact: large companies predict 46 percent of revenues are threatened in the next 5 years absent change.

 

How was the research developed?

The book is based around six questions we think every executive and organization has to be able to answer in order to be competitive in the digital economy. We started this research by interviewing leaders from large, global companies, asking them to describe their most important digitally-enabled business transformation initiative. From there we developed a model, tested the preliminary findings in more than 50 workshops with senior executives, identified capabilities needed, conducted several surveys to test those capabilities and show links to financial performance, and interviewed many companies to help us understand what it takes to transform a business. The book resulted from five years of research which shows that the senior executives of top performing firms honestly answered the six questions. To help, each chapter concludes with a self-assessment on one of the six questions. The reader can then compare their self-assessment results to top financial performers to help leadership teams understand the gap they have to close.

 

Needed: Honest Conversations about the Future

Of the six parts, is there one step that more organizations get stuck in than another?

Probably the hardest question for most organizations is having an honest conversation about whether they have leadership, at all levels, who will persevere and successfully deliver the business transformation. Along the way the culture will have to change and adapt to the new digital business model and often this means changing people at the top. But it is not just the top layer of leaders that has to change. Successful transformation requires getting the whole company to behave differently – from the board to the lowest level of employees. For example, DBS Bank in Singapore, which was one the Euromoney’s most digital banks in 2016 has managed to get 14,800 of their 22,000 people involved in a digital innovation activity every week.

 

“Successful transformation requires getting the whole company to behave differently – from the board to the lowest level of employees.”

How to Turn Disagreeable Clients Into Your Best Customers

difficult customers

Dealing With Difficult Customers

It’s not easy running a business today. A single customer complaint, handled improperly, can send your business into a tailspin. At the same time, if you respond to every single customer complaint, you end up wasting time and money chasing an unsolvable problem.

Enter Noah Fleming and Shawn Veltman, who have written a new book, Dealing with Difficult Customers: How to Turn Demanding, Dissatisfied, and Disagreeable Clients Into Your Best Customers. I recently had the opportunity to talk with them about their work in dealing with customers.

 

When the Customer Is Blatantly Wrong

You say that, “The customer is not always right. In fact, the customer is often blatantly wrong.” Share your perspective on this. How did “the customer is always right” develop and where did it go wrong?

All of your readers will have their own favorite “unreasonable or crazy customer stories.” In our experience, after complaining about accountants and management, it’s in most salespeople’s top five favorite cocktail party conversation topics.

We start our book with a list of completely clueless, hilarious, and real customer complaints.

Our favorites are:

  • “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits, like custard creams or ginger nuts.” 
  • “Although the brochure said there was a ‘fully equipped kitchen,’ there was no egg slicer in the drawers.”  
  • “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers, as they were all Spanish.”

Funny when you read them, but scary when you hear that these are 100% real complaints left by real customers. Is the customer right to be upset that the local store doesn’t sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts? Or a customer who complains of too many Spanish people in Spain? Of course not. In these examples, the customers are blatantly nuts.

This idea that “the customer is always right” is one of those things that’s easy for management to tell their frontline employees; it sounds good in practice, and it leads to tremendous wasted time, effort, and often burnout.  Because, sometimes, you really do have to fire customers – one of the things we talk about at length in the book.  Telling your people that the customer is always right is asking them to close their eyes to reality, and when you ask them to do that, it hurts your ability to ask them to do anything else.  After all, with some of the complaints above, how could those customers be right?  What does it mean to treat the customer as if they’re right?

How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative Collaboration

Drive Strategic Collaboration

Imagine a world where your customers want your organization to succeed. Where your employees are personally committed to your company’s success. Where your organization is not focused only on its own results, but on a collaborative effort that spans a community and beyond.

David Nour’s new book, CO-CREATE: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic Collaboration, takes these dreams on as he explores ways to drive strategy and innovation. His new work challenges us to think about relationships in a completely different way. I recently asked him about his work and new book.

 

“Your brand identity is beyond your control.” -David Nour

 

Co-creation. Share with our audience what it is and why it’s important.

It means collaborating with your most valuable business relationships to transform your business or revenue model. It can drive how you iterate, innovate or disrupt your market and in the process, evolve far beyond anything you could do alone.

 

“Introspection leads to right action.” -David Nour

 

You start the book by saying that, “Introspection leads to right action.” What’s the best way to do this?

Real introspection takes three critical elements:

  1. Think Time – Unfortunately, given the hectic pace most of us work these days, we don’t get enough quality think time to set the minutia of the day aside and really consider our relevant strengths and strategic relationships, as well as personal or professional growth opportunities.
  2. An Inner Circle – We need to surround ourselves with fewer, but more authentic and impactful, business relationships. Most of us could dramatically benefit from fewer partnerships and alliances and more thought partners who will tell us what we need to hear.
  3. Leading Drivers – We can’t raise the bar on our intellect, performance, execution and results… if we don’t measure leading drivers of our progress—not lagging indicators of where we’ve been, but predictive insights toward where we’re headed. You can’t win a race looking in the rear view mirror. Focus your energies on the road ahead.

 

Stay In Tune With Your Customers