Increase Your Speed

This week in the chilly snow covered mountains of northern Norway, a Norwegian tow truck driver, Arnt Ove Brattbakk, was trying to tow a semi away from a 200-foot cliff. As this tow truck moved forward, the semi suddenly jackknifed and began sliding off the cliff. Thanks to some quick thinking, the tow truck driver managed to jump out of the truck moments before it plummeted down into the ravine.

Lorry drama in Norway

A quick reaction can save your life, as Arnt Ove Brattbakk would certainly attest, but quick reactions can also save your business. One of the biggest advantages that small and medium sized companies have over large corporations is their ability to react quickly. By improving your company’s reaction time, you can make your company’s small size a real advantage.

Consider the following situations and your ability to react quickly and decisively in each.

Customer requests or complaints

Customer recommendations

New industry trends

Customer referrals

Industry price changes

Replacing employees

Take Polaroid as an example. Polaroid was the leader in home photography for decades. In fact, like Kleenex, Polaroid was a term synonymous for its product. With the advent of digital photography, however, came the Polaroid’s demise. The company was slow to react to industry trends and technology changes, leading to its bankruptcy in 2005. Reaction time matters.

There are three steps that you can take, today, to give your company the ability to react quickly and precisely.

1. Communicate with your customers regularly.
Consistent communication with your customers, either through email newsletters or more personal phone calls and emails, keeps you in the loop to what your customer base is thinking. Consistent communication also makes it easier for customers to come to you with questions, complaints, or referrals. It also establishes a direct link with your customers, so that you can respond to them immediately and through a channel with which they have become comfortable.

2. Organize your office operations
Train your front desk and office staff so that they know how to respond to customers, and so that they know what type of information needs to be quickly passed on to their managers. Teach these employees to listen. They are your front liners, and you may be surprised by how much they already know about the direction of your industry and how your company fits in that industry.

3. Automate processes
Build quick and accurate reactions into your company by automating difference processes. Invest in a good CRM software to organize your office’s interactions with its customers. Set office procedures to respond to different situations. This will allow your office to respond immediately to questions, complaints, and referrals. For example, train the office staff to send a ‘thank you’ card to every client that refers a friend. By automating these reactions rather than following an ad hoc method that changes from day to day, you will quicken your responses and ensure that none of your clients get missed.

Racing legend Mario Andretti once declared, “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” Many small and medium sized business owners often feel the need to maintain absolute control on every aspect of their business. Some do this at the expense of their customers and their business. Simple things like automated processes, an organized office, and consistent company-customer interaction are often overlooked, but they are vital to the future growth of any company.

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