As a rule I don’t subscribe to new year’s resolutions. Most are not worth the breath they are carelessly uttered with. If you are anything like me your resolutions are destined to fail within days – and that is in a good year.But it’s not the same story for businesses. From the mightiest multi-national to the local retailer – firms must be firm in their resolve to do better in 2013 if they want to weather a wet and windy economy. Here are five resolutions every business must keep this year more than any other year:
1. I must look after my loyal customersI am constantly staggered by the fact that so many businesses don’t look after their loyal and regular customers in the rush to get new customers through the door. In doing so they are ignoring one of the basic rules of commerce: it costs far more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. Never is this more prevalent that in the financial services industry, where too may companies rely on inertia to exploit existing customers. My latest personal run was with insurance group More Than, who sent me a renewal quote for my car insurance. I checked online to find I could get the policy more than £40 cheaper if I was a new customer – even though I had been a More Than customer for years. Cherish your existing customers and they will cherish you.
2. I will motivate my staffIn these straightened times, giving pay rises is not straight forward so businesses need to think about other ways of incentivizing staff. Motivating employees is a key part of the success of any business. Of course money still matters for most of us – but so does company morale and culture. We still spend most of our lives at work – and we want to enjoy it as best as we can. A little bit of praise goes a long way. So does clear vision and leadership, shared responsibility and rewards, honesty and transparency and of course a bit of fun in the workplace.
3. I will care about customer serviceIt’s amazing what you can find online. In a quick search I unearthed a plethora of articles that proudly present hundreds and hundreds of quotes about customer service. Take one blogger who took the time to compile “99 legendary customer service quotes” including such gems as “People expect good service but few are willing to give it”, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company.” and my personal favourite “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile”. The point is that business men and women through the ages have recognised that customer service is key to their success. When customer service drops, so do sales – especially as bad service spreads like social media wildfire these days. Customers don’t care about corporate structures, the boardroom pecking order, dividends or cashflow. They care about service. You can never create a sustainable business through customer “churn and burn” so make sure you do all you can to travel that extra mile.
4. I will focusFocus on what is working and drop what is not. Focus on a coherent plan and strategy (and meet up every week to make sure it is still in focus). Focus on achieving realistic goals for you and the business. Focus on things that can really make a difference to your business (the must do’s rather than the easy to do’s). Focus tight resources on what will give you the best bang for your buck.
5. I must go mobileBy next year, mobile phone and tablet internet usage is forecast to outweigh internet usage from desktop computers. Almost two thirds of people in the UK already struggle to imagine life without their mobile and expect to increase their mobile usage dramatically over the next few years. Not having a mobile compatible service and a mobile strategy is like not having a website a few years ago – a sure fire way to lose business to quicker and smarter competitors (you only have to look at the current high street carnage to see what I mean). So businesses and entrepreneurs of Britain, I wish you a very happy 2013 – and if you can just hold on to your resolutions it stands to be an even happier one. Andy Yates is an entrepreneur and director of Huddlebuy.co.uk, Europe’s largest business money saving site. Don’t forget: Real Business readers can click here to get an exclusive free mobile site for life and free iZettle account saving more than £200.
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