In every industry, decision-makers are constantly challenged to improve their offerings, to find new products to better meet client expectations and needs, and, just overall, to continue improving.
But you cannot make changes without a reason or a plan, just for the sake of offering something new or refreshing your product. Most likely, if you decide to change without a structure or goal in mind, this will drive your team crazy and confuse your clients and prospects.
Change has to provide real value for your clients.
Stage one of the change-making process is to find out what your clients really value. To accomplish this, you have to do a few things that you might find intimidating as a business owner:
- Read everything about what you do: This comes without saying, but you should know (or want to know) everything about the services you provide. This includes reading books and guides from reputable sources but also using social media. Join industry groups on social media and read comments from professionals who serve the same niche as you. Join the conversation and you’re bound to find valuable insight and different points of view that can help you keep things in perspective.
- Ask your team: Empower your team to feel comfortable with providing you feedback. Challenge them to ask themselves: what is working, what seems to go smoothly, and what could use some improvement. You have to train your team to pay attention to these areas by having regular meetings that offer opportunities for open conversations. Your team is a valuable resource when trying to evaluate your services and offerings. Plus, they will have an idea of what your clients need or seem happy with.
- Do market research: When is the last time you took an in-depth look at your competition? What are other industries doing for clients like yours? Make a list of websites to visit and explore your competitions’ services and products: What features do they offer? How are they making clients’ lives easier? What do they do to offer extra value? Use these guiding questions to consider whether another company is offering something that your clients would love.
- Ask your clients what they want! This is the one tactic that seems to scare all business owners, but it’s the one that will make you more successful. Listen to what your clients are saying. Understand their needs and anticipate a solution for their most pressing challenges.
Now, that was just stage one of this process.
Once you have done your research, considered the input of key players, and thought about what your new offering can be, it’s time for stage two: Put your ideas to work.
I like to start by picturing how the end result looks and then create systems from there. Reverse engineer your process. This will require you to have some knowledge of how your processes and your team works.
You need to consider three fundamental questions to ensure your offering will be of great value to your clients and will remain an effective and profitable process for your company.
- How much time will it take your team to change what they do in order to execute this new product/service?
- How do you want your clients to feel once they’ve experienced the service/product?
- What are the steps to creating the system/service and who do you need to involve?
Finally, part three is where you will separate yourself from every other business out there.
There is not much value in creating a service or new offering that you believe works splendidly and can make your client’s life easier if you do not provide adequate training on it to both your team and clients.
Training is also not a one-and-done act. One of the most important parts of staying relevant in business is to always find ways to improve what you have created. You have to train, get feedback, evaluate, make adjustments, and then train your team some more.
So many advisors and business owners will come up with a new idea, communicate expectations, miss some items on stage one, skip all of stage two, and do just enough of stage three. That is why a lot of brilliant ideas remain ideas instead of turning into profitable, actionable ways to advance a business.
You, as the innovator, need to be involved in every stage described here to truly provide constant, ongoing improvements for your clients and market.