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Information Means More than Anything in Business

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100-satisfaction-gauranteeI say to you, information is king; it is power, and ultimately it is what business growth hinges on. Information takes the guess work out of the equation, sits the marketing guru on the bench, and deals with what is real.

For example: Who knew when it came to food, people cared more for speed than taste? Who knew plush couches could make up for average coffee? Who knew people would forgo meals and comfort and then ride for hours to save a few bucks? Well Ray Kroc of Mcdonalds, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Herbert D. Kelleher of Southwest Airlines knew these counter intuitive trends. They leveraged them to become 3 of most successful companies in the world.

The question for us becomes how do we mimic this pattern and begin to effectively use information to find the next big trend. We start with 3 basic mindsets when it comes to making decisions in our business.

  1. Customer First Orientation
  2. Develop Touch Point Fever
  3. Adapt & Change Yesterday

Customer First Orientation

Customers are primary to business success as they pay the bills. It’s only natural to first understand their wants and needs by developing a Customer First Orientation. This orientation makes your customer the starting point for information collection and decision making. You become keen to what they want, desire, and need.

Ray Krok used this principle when he came across a restaurant in San Bernardino, California, called McDonalds. He saw customers line up around the corner to get burgers. This was unheard of during the time because drive-ins were all the rage. Ray saw something special in what customers wanted. He used that information to build a world burger empire. He did not guess, call on a guru, or make wild hunches. He made direct observation of customer wants, and capitalized on them.

You can do the same thing and find the next trend to take your business to the next level. Make it your business to know your customer. Verify through direct observation and response to find out what they want and need. Assumptions and hopes are replaced with exact, reasonable, and real time information.

Touch Point Fever

When you develop a Customer First Orientation you will find Touch Point Fever close behind. It is the preoccupation with making sure every touch point you have with your customer is yielding information. Each sale, inbound / outbound call, marketing literature sent, has tied into it a way to gather information.

Touch Points Can Include:

  • Employee interaction (in store, on phone, at register, etc.)
  • Inbound / Outbound calls
  • Sales Team
  • Website / Blog
  • Surveys
  • Marketing Materials
  • Shipping Department
  • Customer Service Department
  • Accounts Payable
  • Email

Anyplace where you have the potential to speak or interact with a customer, develop a process to get information. The type of information you gather should focus on trend keys. Possible trend keys include:

  • Benefits & Value: find out the benefit and value of your service
  • Pain / Issue: the flip side of benefit. Find out what pain or issue the customer has that you can solve
  • Customer Satisfaction: know how satisfied your customers are
  • Competition: find out who else your customer may use or consider and why
  • Location: is your business conveniently located
  • Wish List: always have a wish list your customers can give suggestions
  • Opportunities For Growth: find out what opportunities might exist to bring further value to customers
  • Buying Behavior: what behavior or habits are involved in buying patterns. Is there more than one person making the decision to buy? Do they compare shop first? Etc.
  • Price: are your customer sensitive to price? Do they value the quality of your product over its economics?
  • Etc.

The key is that you are always collecting information to find that next unknown trend.

Adapt & Change Yesterday

The expiration date on information collected is yesterday. Things change and other patterns evolve, so you must jump on opportunity to improve today. Having the ability to collect information and use it in real time is a wonderful way to say

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