Are You Strangling Your Business With Metrics?

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Big Data Is Great For Businesses Who Want To Scale and Stay Afloat In This Economy, But Not At the Cost Of Customers, Employees

Metrics: a temple of numbers, the oracles that can give you the forecasts you need to grow your business.

Metrics are, arguably, one of the best tools a business can use. The versatility of the data is invaluable for mapping strategies, identifying strong and weak points in the business processes, and scaling the impact your business has on current and future demographics.

But metrics can also blind businesses and ruin the front-end experience for employees and consumers alike.

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Several recent articles have “exposed” the poor business practices employed by big-name brands, such as Target and Walmart. The common trend among these articles is that the business is strictly numbers-based under a thin veil of increasing customer satisfaction.

But, as these articles go on to explain, the numbers actually ended up killing satisfaction rates, both in-house and on the consumer end.

Here’s why:

When a business hyper-focuses on their metrics, such as consumption of a specific material, communication rates, and other overhead costs, the focus on the customer, and the front-end employees, tends to get lost in the shuffle.

Customers are numbers, yes, but they’re also the life behind a business. No customer, no money, no future. This isn’t to say that metrics shouldn’t be the focus of your company. Just don’t hyper focus on them.

Here are three focus areas you should evenly spread your attention among to scale your business:

Customers

As mentioned earlier in the article, customers are the lifeblood of any business, be it retail-, contract-, or even government-based.

Customers can make or break metrics and it’s up to the savvy business person to monitor these trends, via big data caches (especially those through social media and quality assurance analysis). While your customers will always be satisfied with a lower price than that of your competitor, should it really come at the cost of their overall experience?

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A company with a strong customer focus, such as Starbucks or that little cafe just down the street from your office, is much more likely to bring in better profits throughout the year and on a month-to-month basis. A happy customer is a returning customer, and returning customers often bring friends.

If that’s not a sweet metric you can sink your teeth in to, then you need to wake up your business palette!

Employees

Another artery of your business. If your employees are unhappy, chances are your business won’t succeed in the long run.

There’s a difference between a single or a few disgruntled employees (you can’t make everyone happy, especially when it comes to shared work spaces and a busted coffee maker) and a truly unhappy staff.

A happy employee will remain loyal to your business. They’ll provide a face of your business, an honest endorsement to friends and family, and great performance, three positive aspects to prove that you’re running a great business.

So how do you ensure that you’re keeping these employees on your good side while you manage your rising star of a business? Communicate. Communication is your master key here: speak, listen, collaborate.

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Many people don’t realize how much of an impact communication has on a positive employee metric. Businesses who show an active interest in their employees are more likely to have a higher retention rate, meaning less turn-over, more loyalty, and the interest of job-seekers outside of the company.

You might have built this company from the ground up, but your employees are the living, load-bearing foundation of your structure.

Overhead, Time, and Material Cost

Materials, services, and time management are still key players in the functionality of your business. But how important is the time, down to the second, it takes for an employee to answer the phone than the time that employee might be spending with another customer? Does tracking the number of pens people use on a daily basis really help you improve your bottom line at the end of the day? 

Material and time consumption is a subjective cost metric that will differ vastly between businesses, but consider the general idea of necessary materials, or, more simply, the items you absolutely need to run your business. Consider the time it costs to run your business. Is it worth lowering the satisfaction of a customer just to answer that phone two seconds quicker? Is it worth harassing an employee just to save a few pens at the end of the year? Likely, no. 

SEE ALSO: The Expanding Role of BPM In Customer Service and Why You Should Care

What does make sense is using smarter methods to track business processes, streamline management strategies, and better deploy materials and overhead necessities. By investing in smarter tools to run your company, such as cloud-based solutions or BPM software tailored to your business, you can still track those metrics without sacrificing your employees and customers.

 

Tracking overhead and material metrics can definitely help you run your business better, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of the sanity of your employees or the satisfaction of your customers.

If your business is pinching pennies so hard that the number of steps it takes for someone to grab a file, the number seconds it takes for someone to answer a phone, or the number of keystrokes someone uses to complete a task becomes the focus of your business’s strategy, perhaps you should reanalyze where, exactly, your problems lie.

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Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Laura Whitener is the managing editor of Firmology, technology focused news and insight for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. Laura graduated from DePaul’s notable Master of Writing and Publishing program in Chicago. She survives on coffee, apples, and Pandora.

When she isn’t editing or writing, Laura enjoys knitting, adding to her massive book collection, and culinary adventures.

You can find Laura on Twitter and LinkedIn.