What makes a modern business? Today business needs to re-invent itself and find a niche. Business is about networks and helping your customers achieve their goals. Business is about thinking differently about the way things have been done.
The trouble is, business leaders don’t fully understand the areas of a business that make it happen. In most cases there are three things that are needed to make a business a success, assuming that the company has a solid cash-flow.
The first is a good product or offer.
The second is the infrastructure, which includes the physical looks of the place, the branding, and the layout.
Finally, the service provided.
Using an example of a restaurant.
1. You go to a restaurant for a meal and the food was good, the place was nice, but the service was poor. The waiter does not smile. He looks like he would like the shift to be over and he looks harassed. Would you go back and if so, how frequently?
2. You go to the same restaurant and the food is very good, in fact, it is above average by quite a bit. The place is very tastefully decorated and impressive. But the waiter does not smile. He looks like he would like the shift to be over and he looks harassed? Would you go back and, if so, how frequently?
3. You go to the same restaurant and the food is good but not outstanding. The place is clean but a little worn and could be described as a little tired. However, you are made to feel that you have come into their home. The welcome is genuine, the service is amazing and the engagement with the people in the restaurant makes for wonderful interaction. Would you go back and, if so, how frequently?
So assuming that the business is profitable (and cash-flow is not killing the business) of the three scenarios that stand to influence the person that can provide the cash-flow and profit, the biggest driver of the business is the service or human interaction.
We have known this for years. However, the main effort is always put into the product or offering, and the image or infrastructure. Creativity and innovation have been applied to these areas for a number of reasons and made easy by the advancement in technology and the dynamic ideas that have been generated in the last few years. Companies have reinvented themselves in terms of their product and their infrastructure or brand. Although few have been paying attention to re-inventing their service delivery. I would go so far as to say that many see this as secondary importance. There are numerous examples of how important the relationship business is and factual proof of the impact it has on the bottom line.
I am lucky enough to study organizations and see examples of outstanding practice, organizations that value relationships, and more importantly, work hard at building them.
So the questions I want to ask you are based around how good you are at defining your business.
As a simple measure, how clear are you in the three areas I have defined:
On a scale of 1 – 10;
What is your product or offering?
What is your appearance like?
How good are your people at building relationships?
Notice we are talking about building relationships and not about customer service. There is a big difference. If your people are capable of building relationships, customer service will be an automatic outcome.
So, on a personal level, this month’s questions are:
- How good are you at building relationships with the people that interact with your customers?
- How good an example are you, of what you expect from them?
- How good a role model are you of what is expected in what we described in the third area of your business?
- How does your back office support the people that are interacting with the customers so that the relationship is possible?
- Are the internal relationships as good as what you need the external relationships to be?
- How are you measuring the relationships to ensure they are driving the business?
- How good are you at coaching and developing your people to be able to build relationships?
- Do you take a personal interest in the development of your people in areas that result in relationships?
- Do your people even understand the importance you place on building relationships?
The difference to your business is the relationships you have with your people and your customers. It is less about the product and infrastructure. If you ever doubt it, ask yourself, which warmed you the most:
The warm food your Mother prepared for you?
The warmth of the kitchen she worked in to prepare the food for you?
The warmth of the times you spent together?
Which would you miss the most if it was no longer in your life?
Have a great month and I hope you are having a great year.
Best wishes, Paul