Stuart R. Crawford (Calgary, AB - Business Development Manager of IT Matters)
In business, we are often taught in school and from peers to focus on profits and revenues as the key indicators to success in Small Business consulting (or at least that is how we are measured against others in our industry). I am going to respectfully argue this point simply because if you are completely focused on having the highest revenues and in turn driving more profit to your bottom line you are losing sight of what I believe is the most vital and critical key performance indicator for any business large or small and new or old.
Complete client satisfaction (CSAT) is the only key performance indicator that is crucial to our success in business. When we are focused on taking care of our client’s best interests and ensure that we are delivering the most effective level of service, innovative solutions that bring value to our client base, and billing them properly and timely, only then will all the other stuff (profits, cash flow and anything else) will automatically fall into place.
When our teams focus on providing only the best quality support and the right technology solutions that meet our client’s business needs, only then will our businesses begin to flourish and be on the road to complete success (also this is the one least travelled). So why is client satisfaction so important? This is a very good question, when we achieve total client satisfaction we have happy clients who enjoy transacting with us (great CSAT scores), we have clients that pay their invoices on time (cash flow is healthy), our clients easily refer business to our companies (healthy pipeline), the clients we are working with continue to invest in solutions that our companies recommend (increased sales revenues) and maybe the most important reason why it important for our business to have a very high client satisfaction score is this: we will have employees that enjoying taking care of the clients that they are assigned which will increase staff retention, creating a bond between our teams and our client base and we have a bunch of happy people who enjoy coming to work and transacting with our corporations.
Who is responsible for ensuring that our businesses can maintain a high level of client satisfaction? Ultimately, this is the responsibility of our Directors of Business Development, not our operations manager, not our service manager and not our staff. Why is it important that your Business Development person take the charge in ensuring that client satisfaction remain high? In my experience this is the key person who maintains the relationship between our firms and our vendors, our companies and the local business market and when this key role is firing on all cylinders, our Business Development Director can bring together all components to ensure solutions are recommended to our clients, concerns from our clients can be escalated to our vendor partners openly and rapidly and our overall business goals are met across the board.
In business today, it is important that everyone on our teams understand the goals, mission, vision and values of our company and the effect that having this key information has with our overall client satisfaction. When we have our team aligned with our business goals that client satisfaction is important, our employees and staff are now empowered to make key decisions at our client’s office, in our client meetings, with every interaction they are now focused on ensuring that the client is completely satisfied with the dealings that they are having with our businesses. It is very important to our business success to empower the teams we have in place to make critical business decisions that is aligned with our business goals, mission, vision and values.
We must also always deliver what our clients are asking for, this is another critical area to ensuring that our clients are satisfied, take steps to understand what they need and what they are looking for. There are many great tools available today to assist in the information gathering, however, no tool that is available (surveys, newsletters or other technology) compares to face to face interaction. It is important to maintain a balance of face to face interaction with other communication methods. We must get up from behind our desks and visit the people we are taking care of.
Client satisfaction is the golden egg to success, especially today during the uncertain economic times we live in today; don’t worry about the price of gas or the investment in time. When we take of our clients they will ensure that they take care of us. When we have our businesses focused on ensuring that we are creating a positive experience with every client interaction we are definitely on the road to success. Here is my formula to success in small business IT consulting:
High CSAT = Profit and Revenue
Low CSAT = Broke