How to adapt your business to suit your customer base

The very best businesses don’t just stay the same. They adapt and grow over the years to suit the needs of their customers and clients. But there’s a lot of hard work involved, and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

To help you out, three business experts give their advice on not only creating a successful organisation, but how to take it even further.

Focus on training and retention

Your staff are at the very heart of your business. And if you look after them well, you’ll have a healthy organisation overall. Retention is a key part of allowing your company to grow and change over time – if you have a high turnover of staff, then you are going to be more focused on replacing members of your team, rather than spending time nurturing and upskilling the employees you already have.

Mark Jones, head of academy at Europe’s largest dental treatment provider mydentist, gives his insight on why training staff is important:

“The more people learn, the more they can help your business. Whether that means developing better management skills or how to provide outstanding customer service, it all helps to make your company a better place. This can include implementing new processes, new marketing and advertising techniques to attract customers, or improving the way your work is delivered. Not only does training and development help your business to grow, it also helps to give your employee engagement levels a boost, as people  feel more  valued and important. If your people feel engaged and feel they are developing they will stay with you which will improve your retention rate. This in turn means your customers will enjoy the benefit of dealing with familiar faces which helps to build trust, rapport and loyalty.”

Communication

One of the biggest parts of adapting to your customers’ ever-changing needs is being able to communicate. The ability to listen and respond, to share a dialogue with each and every one of your customers is essential. Good communication is a two-way street – you need to be able to tell your customers all about how your business can help them, and your customers need to give you effective feedback that you can act upon.

Gia Campari, author ‘The 99 Essential Business Questions’, gives her insight on making the most of good communication:

“There is no way around it; to make the most of the way you communicate with your clients and to find out what your clients’ needs are, you need to know what’s on their minds. You cannot second guess it, as chances are you will get it wrong. So the first thing to do is ask directly or find out indirectly what their foremost concern is, then address that concern in your communication. Attempting to address all their concerns [at once] shows you are not listening or that you have not understood what is really bothering them.

“Every point of contact with the customer is an opportunity to uncover valuable information: is competition increasing in their sector? What new demands are their customers putting on them? What changes would you suggest that would have the greatest positive impact on their business? What’s their constraint on growth?

“All employees should have a long list of questions up their sleeve and should not have a conversation with a client without asking a question or two, or indeed, many more. As once the client starts answering, each answer will elicit further questions.”

Listen to your customers (and take positive action)

Once you have spoken to your customers, it’s time to actually listen to them. There’s nothing more frustrating than discussing your issues with a business, only to have them ignore you and carry on doing the same thing. It’s a good way to lose a loyal customer, and potentially put them off bringing more people your way.

If you want to know how to make your business a better place for your customers, there’s only one group of people you need to ask.

Business expert, Adèle McLay, gives her advice:

“Ask your customers and they will give you the answers. Respond to those answers by making changes within your business, and you’ll have happy customers who will hopefully remain for life, and they may even refer you [to others]. Often it’s the small, simple and inexpensive changes that make the difference. Do 10 things 10% better rather than one thing 100% better.”

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