Business Resources

Isn't It All About the Customer Experience?

By: AllBusiness.com

In these uncertain economic times, you never know when your business might encounter rough waters. Everything from suffering lackluster sales to suddenly finding yourself buried under a mountain of debt, no business owner is immune to these types of problems.

If your business is struggling to stay afloat but you would rather not file for bankruptcy, there are some things you can do to help stay in business:

  1. Stay on top of your taxes. The last thing you want is to find yourself owing a lot of back taxes. Before you know it, the penalties will start adding up, and you will be in worse shape than before. Keep current on all of your tax payments, even if it means doing a little belt-tightening in other areas.
  2. Keep an eye on cash flow. Even in tough financial times, you should have some kind of advance warning if you are prudent about keeping an eye on cash flow. Sometimes putting a freeze on spending can help get things under control.
  3. Search for the best short-term loan options. Shop around for the best rate and repayment plan that will help your business ride out the financial storm. Do not rush out and sign for the first loan that is offered to you.
  4. Look for assets you can sell to raise quick cash. When is the last time you took a really thorough inventory of everything your business owns? Chances are that you will find some items you can sell to help alleviate your short-term cash flow problems.
  5. Trim expenses down to the bare bone. If you have many employees on your payroll, enlist their help. Be honest with them -- let them know you might be able to save their jobs if they can help you trim expenses down to the bare minimum.
  6. Cut salaries temporarily by 5 to 10 percent. This is obviously a very unpopular option, but it can sometimes see a floundering company through a rough patch. You can always ask for volunteers before you make it mandatory.
  7. Stop paying yourself. As the business owner, you are probably the last one to be paid anyway. But in case you are still collecting a paycheck, suspend yours until the business starts to turn around.
  8. Refinance any outstanding real estate loans. And cash out some equity; it may be the difference between staying in business and closing the doors.
  9. Find an angel investor. They are out there; you just have to search for the right one who can invest additional cash into your business to help you get back on your feet.
  10. Borrow money from a wealthy relative. If you are fortunate enough to have a wealthy relative or two in the family, ask them about an interest-free loan to jump-start your business. (The worst they can do is say no.)

AllBusiness.com operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at www.allbusiness.com.

By: AllBusiness.com

I love great customer experiences:

Apple Store.

Trader Joes.

Equinox Fitness Clubs.

These are all big, inclusive brands, places where the experience goes beyond buying products or using the brand's assets.

These are experiences that are about being a part of the collective. About being excited, passionate, and proud to be associated with the brand. To be on the inside. To be cutting edge.

How did they get that way? And how do you create the same relationship with your customers?

They are all first and foremost about the product. There wouldn't be any reason to go if you weren't passionate about your iPhone, your Two buck chuck, or your Hard Body Meltdown class.

Second, they don't try to sell you anything. They're about sharing information. And that's part of the reason we like them. No hard sell. No pressure. We can experience the brand as we want to, when we want to, how we want to.

Third, they constantly innovate. They listen to their customers and then do something about it. New products. New technology. New classes. New locations. These brands are not content to rest on their laurels.

THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
The signs are out there. Read them, then follow them.

It's so easy for anyone to create a great customer experience. But the truth is that most people don't talk to their customers. Or if they do, they don't do anything with the information. And often, if they do something with the information, they don't communicate it back to their customers.

But that's just the first step: catching up. It's being reactive to the customer's needs. Once you've accomplished that, you need to move to the second step: anticipation. This requires you to be proactive, and to think ahead of the customer, and to communicate with them.

Once you learn how to do that, you'll find yourself playing in the leagues of Apple, Trader Joe's, and Equinox. And you'll create a business for yourself that's miles ahead of your competitors. In fact, you'll create a business that's unbeatable.

Follow me on Twitter.

AllBusiness.com operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at www.allbusiness.com.

Related Articles
Control Your Computer from Anywhere with Mobile Software Bike World: Pedaling a Better Product

Business News