Dear Aunty B,
I have a very diverse customer base of small and medium companies and consumers. I have found that over the last six months they are expecting a ridiculous high level of service and they want to pay less and less for it.
Great service has always been an advantage for us as we have lots of competitors. But the pressures on the business, our staff – and me – have become unbearable.
Sometimes I come to work and see myself as a rat stepping into a giant wheel where I peddle and peddle until I get off at the end of the day, trying to fulfill the needs of demanding customers.
Staff costs are increasing and our margins are decreasing. Increasingly I fell like telling my customers to go jump!
(Please don’t print my name as I know some of them read SmartCompany.)
Dear Rat on a wheel,
It is time to hop off. You, my friend, are on your way out of business unless you change your practices right now.
Having good service levels is not enough of a competitive advantage when you are operating in a sea of “me-too” businesses and riding into tough times.
You have to reconfigure your business right now because you could lose key staff.
Gather your key team around you and some outsiders and head off to a two-day strategy meeting. What is your true competitive advantage? Where can you up-sell? Can you focus on larger clients? How can you protect yourself from the consumer downturn?
How do you reignite the passion and see your customers as partners instead of wanting to throttle them?
One other thing – it sounds like you are a micro-managing control freak. Get out of that business and start working on its future direction. The first step? Go and see those pesky demanding customers and see if you can come up with something new that delights them – and doesn’t kill you in the process.
Your Aunty B.