When working with clients I often find that it can be a challenge for them to improve on delivering their product. Whether that’s a physical item, a service rendered, or even a digital product, it is clear that many business owners can be somewhat overwhelmed by trying thinking through all their business processes.
This is because a the “delivery” of your company’s product or service is not a single event. In fact, it is the culmination of any number of processes and functions in your business. And, with all the moving parts involved, it can be difficult to determine where the tweaks and adjustments need to be made.
One way to get around the problem of grasping so many disparate parts is to view your business as seven major areas of accountability. This approach can help you “see” your business processes much more clearly and it’s achieved by segmenting your business into areas we refer to as Leadership, Finance, Management, Marketing, Branding, Sales and Delivery.
While you won’t necessarily call them this in actual practice, it is still a useful tool for mentally accessing an otherwise complex entity.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
So, what about the delivery component of your business?
As a business owner, your product or service is at the heart of why your company exists. Business is, at it’s core, a structure for facilitating a transaction. You give me money, I give you a widget. You give me money, I will mow your lawn.
That’s business at its most primitive.
Yet, once you work through all the various functions, processes, and tasks that occur in any business, that is what it all comes down to. And, for your customer or client, that’s really what matters most to them. And how they experience that transaction can make or break your business.
Generally speaking, there are two phases of experience your customer has with your company. The first is a result of your marketing, promotion and sales activities. This is their experience of learning about your business and your products or service. It is also how they learn to perceive your brand and decide whether they “like” you or not. It is also where they make their decision of whether or not to buy from you.
However, these activities only serve to create impressions and expectations, not the complete customer experience. That actually happens with the second phase of customer experience: your delivery.
Your product or service, its quality, and perceived value, will all help to shape your customer’s experience. In addition, your marketing and sales play an important part of that process.
But the heart of the experience, the part that will keep customers coming back and saying good things about you, happens in delivery.
Leading and Delivering
One of the wonderful aspects of being a business owner is being ultimately responsible for everything that happens – or does not happen – in your business. Even if you never see a customer or touch the product, as the leader you are still the one responsible for delivery.
So, what do you need to know and understand about your delivery as the leader of your business?
Pretty much everything. This doesn’t mean every minute detail, but you must understand the process, the steps in the process, the tools and resources required, and why and how it works the way it does. The truth is, you are likely to be quite intimately familiar with the process already. But even if you’re not, you should be able to draw a basic flow chart illustrating the steps of the process.
While it can be a complex process, and unique to each business, there are four essential elements required for creating a truly memorable customer experience with your delivery process:
First, assess your customers’ total experience.
This step requires that you identify all the activities in your business that have a direct impact at all on your customers and potential customers. This will take time and thought, but it is a valuable exercise. For example, invoicing or billing functions, customer service interactions, warranty offerings, etc.
How well are all these processes structured? What, if anything, can be minimized or simplified? Are all available tools or resources being optimized? Are there any redundant or even unnecessary steps involved? What can be added that will truly enhance your customer’s experience?
Second, identify the drivers of the customer experience.
Drivers are the elements of the experience that have the biggest impact on the customer. You need to identify the high-impact elements of the experience because they drive your customers’ perceptions and, ultimately, their purchase decisions.
Drivers also represent the most significant opportunities to improve your company’s impact on your customers and their experience. Identifying the drivers of your customer’s experience also lets you know where to focus your efforts, where you can derive the greatest impact for the lowest expenditure of time and resources, and where the “cost/benefit trade-off” is benefits both you and your customers.
Third, identify your competitors’ customer experience drivers.
Just as you identified the drivers of your own customer experience, identify those of your competitors. Just because your competitor is in the same business as you, don’t assume their customer-experience drivers are the same as yours. Granted, you won’t necessarily know their customers or their operations as well as you know your own, but it helps to get to know them.
Where possible, do some business with them, talk to their customers, and learn what you can about their customer experiences.
Fourth, determine what creates for a powerful customer experience.
This means taking the best of what you have previously identified to create the ideal customer experience, but in a practical and cost-effective way.
Delivery and your customer’s experience is where it all comes together. Everything your business does that has any direct or indirect impact on your customers must be developed and managed with the goal of creating the most powerful experience possible. How well you deliver is what will bring customers to you and keep them with you for the long haul.
If you’d like help with the delivery and customer experience aspect of your business, please sign up for a free consultation where we can discuss this, or any other issue, to help you move your business forward. Also, I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on this and other business success topics.