Monthly Archives: February 2015

How much do you know about your customers?

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton

Depending on what sort of business you have you may know a lot about your customers or you may not. A high street shop will likely have a large number of customers but not much information about them while a professional services firm (for example) might have a smaller customer list and a lot more information about them. But whoever your customers are they are crucial to the success and profitable growth of your business.

You probably wouldn’t think that an accountant would worry too much about what customers want – on the surface at least it’s usually accounting advice of one form or another.

I’m interested in customers because there is useful business information to be got at.

Most businesses have a list of who their customers are and usually basic details about addresses and contact details. But what did these customers buy most recently? What does recent actually mean?

Are these customers good for your business? Do they pay promptly, are they profitable? Does serving them take more time and attention than other customers? Can you divide your customers into groups? Do they value different things about your product?

I don’t have any advice to share here; because every business is different every business’ customer group will be different, but it’s vital that you build a picture of who your customers are. And it’s vital that that picture is based on information, not your own opinions or guesswork.

If you don’t know who your customers are you won’t know which customers you want more of. And maybe also which customers you don’t want any more of! Then instead of acting on intuition and “the next bright idea” you can develop a structured plan to grow the sales you want.
Customer information is key to growing your business
When you know what’s important to your customers and what’s valuable about them you can set some Key Performance Indicators to track how well you are doing in attracting and retaining the customers that you want – what get’s measured get’s done.

This will focus your efforts around your customers and make sure you’re keeping the boss happy.

Lean In: Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Spencer Johnson, Who moved my cheese

I have just finished reading the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.

I was curious when I started reading because really the only feedback I had heard about it was Sandberg was preaching that women need to try harder (“lean in”) which was easy for her to say with a huge salary and a nanny.

That wasn’t the message that I got from the book though.

I am definitely guilty of being over modest about my achievements and sometimes allowing self doubt to hold me back. Sandberg explores the reasons why women are more likely than men to act this way as well as looking at how even in the 21st Century attitudes can inhibit women from aspiring to senior business roles.

In the first chapter of the book Sandberg explores the quote above and it really resonated with me: being afraid could be something as simple as being too embarrassed to speak out in a meeting where everyone else is agreeing.

This year I have made a resolution to look out for times when being afraid stops me from doing something and then challenge myself to overcome the fear.