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Does Your Business Suck?

Well, does your business or agency suck?

I doubt you’ve asked yourself this question before in quite such a direct manner. This might sound harsh, and maybe it is.

Lousy customer service, poor innovation, and bad leadership all contribute to terrible organizational culture- those things all impact your performance and how successful your business is. And the impacts affect more than just your bottom line...

So, how do you find out if you suck and what do you do about it?

It really all comes down to the people – customers, stakeholders, and employees. Communicating with them, asking them what they think, and showing them you actually listen. There’s definitely a misconception what the main factor to success is – it’s how effectively people perform their jobs. The first thing, is making them not only want to perform their jobs, but having them want to excel at performing their jobs – and contribute to the greater good of the business.

This is dependent on many factors including a positive organizational culture, which is key to overall success. People increase organizational performance and help create a positive culture, not expensive technology or fancy fads. Although these may be enablers, it’s people that drive the business.

So if you ever wanted to know is your business in trouble there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to help you determine the effectiveness of the organization - if you suck and what you can do about it - the “suckiness test” (of course that’s not the official name...). Oh…and it may be a wise idea to ask a sample of customers, stakeholders, and employees for their opinions as well.

1) Do You Have Enough Repeat Customers? Customer satisfaction is a requirement of customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is an enabler of attracting repeat business. Acquiring new customers can cost 5X more than satisfying and retaining current customers. That’s not cheap! To be successful you need to balance obtaining new customers with satisfying current customers. How your company interacts with customers – and not just what you can deliver to them - is important to customer satisfaction. It’s the customer’s initial experience that keeps them coming back; you’ve got to really put effort into developing positive relationships. Not everyone excels at this. It is imperative to provide your people with the skills and training needed for positive customer interaction. Your people are the face to your customers and if they’re not engaged and happy it can impact the relationship – and the profits.

2) Are Your People Talking Trash? Water-Cooler Talk around the office is bound to happen – but it shouldn’t all be negative. Office friendships are great. Having no friends at the office sucks. According to a study by Randstad, 67% of respondents said having friends at work makes their job more enjoyable and increases their performance. It’s a tricky but necessary balance to create a culture of transparency and engagement – a culture where the people believe in the mission, are happy and committed, and thus speak highly of the organization. Pay attention to the water-cooler chat at your organization. Too much negative chat or no chat at all can signal problems that can cost you business. It can also foster an unnecessarily competitive and negative atmosphere- just remember, every second your people are sitting in a corner complaining about the business or the boss and not speaking positively, is a second they’re not striving to better the organization and increase performance and profit.

3) Is Your Competition Afraid of You? You better hope so! I don’t mean you should want them to be so paranoid that they resort to corporate espionage, but it’s always good to make your competition a bit nervous. One way to make them nervous is by continually increasing profits. Increased profits come from engaged, committed and innovative people. Increased profits usually contribute to increased market share. Increased market share also paves the way for ongoing R&D and innovation. These are enabled by increased performance and engagement from your people. It’s a cycle, and should be a positive one. Happy people = higher profits. Yes – it’s a fact. Just remember, if your competition is at least a little bit afraid of you, it means you’re doing something right – for your people and your business.

Of course, not being able to answer these questions to full satisfaction in support of long term performance and profit doesn’t necessarily mean your business completely sucks (and vice versa), but it should provide you with some ideas of where your business stands and give you some things to think about to make it even better.

So what do you think? Do you have the right people with the right skills and the right culture to maximize people --> performance --> profit™ making the difference between long term success and failure at your business?

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions - an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people --> performance --> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

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