Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Just recently, I decided that I really must tackle the scalability of my business to achieve my long-term goals. In this post, I share how I approached it and how I have struck upon a simple solution – using online data collection tools, such as Typeform, to automate and streamline tasks.
Here is how I went about it…
As an owner of a growing business, time is precious. Yet, still, I want to create excellent, compelling customer experiences. Which, traditionally, takes time.
Bit of a catch 22 situation then.
One of the aspects of engaging customers that must be done robustly, carefully and efficiently is capturing vital information so that I can provide the service I desire to give my customers. I remember (not long ago) a lot of time would be spent, on the phone or answering emails, to get order information, ask questions, and gather information. I also wanted to continue to give this the personal touch because every customer interaction is precious.
Also, one important consideration: the activities only get done in my office hours. It isn’t a 24×7 operation!
Not only did I wish to solve my growth challenges, I also was very keen to open up new and exciting customer engagement opportunities. For example, I really want to create a quiz and competitions – things I have not really done before (and when I have, I haven’t done them very well.)
But the difficulty is doing this at scale. How do we ensure our brand and values are espoused in the face of our customers – ensuring that the customer experience remains true to both, yet do this using technology and automation?
So I decided to dive deeper into what is causing my scalability issues, and how I can overcome them.
After much thought and white-boarding, I began to realise that in order to operate at greater volumes, I had to look at my business operation as a collection of interactions, transactions and processes. Only then could I look at my business through a lens that enabled me to measure time and value.
After getting to that point, I begun to realise that there are business activities that I personally performed that were critical to creating great customer experience and engaging customers in a meaningful way. Activities such as:
- Dealing with issues
- Delivering service
And I also identified some tasks that were, quite frankly, grunt-work – especially where it required my customers to gather up various bits of information. Long, long phone-calls, frequently waiting on hold were (in hindsight) a dead giveaway to these.
- Capturing lots of data
- Capturing requests for brochures or marketing collateral
- Accepting resumes and profiles from consulting candidates
- Enquiries from suppliers
- Filtering emails
It was glaringly obvious that most of these activities were especially wasteful in time, and I added much less value.
I had identified that things I did that I didn’t need to do, or shouldn’t do. Awesome.
Something must be done about it.
Here’s the thing – it became clear that the tasks where I add the least value are those where I am gathering information and verifying that it is ‘valid’ (but not necessarily of interest.) It is vital that I stop doing these things myself, if I want to scale up and grow my business. What’s more, people performing them is simply a waste of man-power. Machines are much better at doing this stuff. Duh ain’t it obvious?
It was then that I struck upon the idea of automating these tasks by enabling my customers to complete these tasks themselves, in their own time and at their convenience. For these tasks, my customer is in the best position to perform them, and it is in our joint interest.
Enter, online forms and data gathering tools. These drive automation, and enable customers.
It didn’t take me long to get a few online forms in place – I’ve put them into a ‘beta’ mode and I am trialling them now with select customers. I’ve branded them and added my personal touches. When a customer completes a form, I receive an email and I can go access the data. And these customers can complete these tasks 24×7 – I am doing business whilst I sleep!
So far, so good. Why not look at your own growth challenges and consider using online forms and data collection to streamline your operation?