As we launch and grow our business, it’s tempting to try to please every customer by being flexible and accommodating.
In Carol’s recent post on the Nextiva blog, “Is Too Much Flexibility Slowing Your Business Growth?” she shares some suggestions for how and where to draw the line with one-off customer requests. Carol begins:
With a small customer base, you can be very accommodating. You’ll happily perform backbends to retain flexible business systems. This is how you grew into the business that you are today. But, with a larger customer base, all those backbends would send you straight to a chiropractor. It’s officially time to take on a new mindset by redefining what flexibility in business means.
Learn from your earlier small business experiences.
Regardless of your size, customers want you to be attentive to their needs. Even though you need to change the way you provide customer service, never forget what you did for your customers during the early days of your business. You can no longer turn on a dime for every customer. By incorporating some of your earlier practices into current activities, however, you can learn to turn on a “silver dollar” instead.
The first step is to convert your memories into useful data. Look at the types of customization you used to perform for your customers. Perhaps you hand-delivered print jobs to meet sudden due-date reductions. Or, maybe you allowed tax clients to submit their data in any format, even if you had to get creative to convert it before you could process their returns. Don’t forget how many times you had to hand-paint your standard blue widgets for customers that wanted purple ones.
Once you have a comprehensive list, you probably realize that you performed certain special services frequently. If you see a pattern in requests from multiple customers, then you can readily identify former customizations that need to become standard offerings. This is huge. You now have a roadmap to keep customers happy without breaking your back.
Yesterday’s customization does not have to disappear.
What do most of your customers ask for? If procrastination is common among your base, then building same-day service (extra charges are OK) into your offerings will keep them happy. If you spend too much time programming certain special features into your custom software, then maybe it’s time to build modules that allow you to drop in popular features, rather than program them from scratch.
By all means, build the most popular features into your basic offerings. But, as long as you know what customer special requests typically look like, you can set up operations so you appear as flexible as you ever were, while retaining control over daily activities (and returning a level of sanity to your team).
You can read the rest of the post here.