You open your computer, the flashing button says, “We have a new update for your software program. Do you wish to update now or later?” You choose the Update Now button and immediately your computer begins to download a new version of the software program.
What is the program updating? It’s fixing broken parts of the software program; it’s adding new features. It does this quickly and easily. Right before your eyes you see the update taking place. You click a button and you have the newest software update.
Computer software and hardware companies have learned that “updating” is a necessary tool in today’s computer world. Without updates, users would drift towards other vendors who have the latest features and best programs.
What about your own business? When was the last time you updated your business operations? In our fast paced, every changing business climate, your either update or customers will drift to your competitors.
Your business needs are no different than computer software companies. You need to make fixes to your business operations. You need to add new features and benefits of your business and market these new features to your customers.
Here is a short and exercise you can use to “update” your business operations. Look at these four areas in your business.
1. Your Market
Over the course of doing business, has your market message remained the same? Does it still reflect the heart of your business? How would you change it to reflect more precisely what is really happening in your business? Are there parts of your marketing efforts that nee to be dropped because they are no longer useful? If your message has changed, should you be looking at different advertising mediums for your business?
I watched a floor covering business change its marketing message over a number of years. At first it offered itself as the company with the cheapest prices. As the business evolved, they realized that creating a great customer shopping experiences was more important than being the lowest price.
Once they realized their market had shifted, they made changes in their advertising. They made changes in their vendors. They made changes in their staffing. By asking a series of simple questions, they were able to update their business operations.
2. Your Customers
This business aspect is closely related to your marketing issues. Over a period of time, you can begin working with different customers. At first, the change happens gradually. Then one day, you realize your customers are different from your original business.
How do the new customers compare to your original customers? What customers need to be dropped so you can concentrate on new customers? Where is the best place to reach and contact these new customers? What other effects does this new customer population have on your business?
3. Your Buyer’s Shopping Experience
If your customers and market have changed, how do these changes affect your customer’s buying experience? Customers today have many buying options. Does the presence of chain stores affect your operations? Do internet buying options affect your business operations?
Customers today are looking for specific types of shopping experiences. Some want to buy simple and fast. Others want to make purchases slow and leisurely. What changes could you make in your customer’s shopping experience that would set you apart form your competitors?
Think of the difference in getting your oil changed at a Jiffy Lube business with plastic chairs and left over coffee. Compare this to getting the same oil changed at a Lexus dealer with a plush waiting room and high speed internet access.
4. Your Customer Follow Up Activities
Having customers buy more from you and buying more often is triggered by the relationships you establish with them and your follow up efforts. Once upon a time, sending postcards was enough. Today, the option of email notices, electronic newsletters and other fast, quick and inexpensive communication options change customer follow up’s.
Have you looked at your follow up activities to see if you can update these functions to make them faster, easier and more efficient for both you and the customer? Today’s customers expect you to use contemporary forms of communications. Are you taking advantage of these forms?
These are several key areas you can use to update your business operations. Just as your software is updated on a regular basis, you need to make the fixes and enhancements to your business on a regular basis. The next time you see the question on your computer, “Do you want to update now?” remind yourself to update your business operations.
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