Business Wisdom

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Your Business

Key Performance Indicators – KPIs

Performance Measurement

Performance Measurement is only as good as your understanding (accurate understanding) of which factors make the most difference in your business. These factors, often called success factors or Key Success Factors (KSF), vary widely by business sector, but are often similar from business to business within a sector, with only slight adjustments needed from business model to business model. This generality holds true unless a particular business within a sector does something disruptive.

The decisions you make regarding KSFs often fall into two broad categories: strategic level decisions and tactical level decisions. The strategic level decisions are high level decisions that you make on an infrequent basis, e.g.: What business to start, when to start, where to locate, capitalization decisions, product offering (category) decisions, target customer, etc. These decisions are typically very costly both in terms of time and finance, and are difficult to undo. Tactical Level decisions are typically associated with key activities you perform in your business on a regular basis and are made on a more frequent basis, and can be conceptualized as adjustments.

The better you (management) understand the KSFs associated with your business model the easier it will be for you to make decisions. As a manager you need to know what is most important: what are the make or break factors? (KSFs), You also need an indication of how you are doing with regards to what is most important (information, metrics, data, etc.).

Once you know what drives success in your business (KSFs) then you can figure out how to measure what you are doing, and which metrics are the most important. These important metrics are called key performance indicators (KPIs). The use of the term metrics, often scares business owners because it sounds complicated, and invokes images of complicated algorithms and endless spreadsheets. This need not be the case. In fact most of the time simple, clear KPIs are not that complicated to track.  Nevertheless, this is an area where many business owners find it helpful to get the help of a business growth expert.

Finally, we must not neglect execution! You can have a crystal clear understanding of your KSFs, the best strategy in the world, and detailed metrics based on well-defined KPIs, but if you fail to execute your strategy well in your day to day activities and processes you will not succeed. Therefore, the final key is key business activities (KBA).

To pull all these pieces together we could use the analogy from aviation. Imagine a pilot plotting a course to his or her final destination (Success). Along the way there are waypoints, places you must go to arrive at your destination. These waypoints are like KSFs. You know you have reached your waypoints, when you look out of your cockpit and see the waypoint, or when your instruments and GPS tell you so. These are Key Performance Indicators. Finally you have the controls in the airplane the buttons, yolks, levers, etc. that you can use to fly. These are your KBAs. Without any one of these you are lost. Without a clear goal or KSFs you can’t plot a course. Without KPIs you won’t know if you are on track or off course. Without good execution at the controls you won’t get where you need to go either. In conclusion, clear thinking about these things will help you navigate a course to success.

Touchstone Business Solutions Copyright © Touchstone Business Solutions, LLC 2012

Telephone Best Practices for Small Business

consulting phone small businessKnowing how to effectively use the telephone as part of your sales process and/or customer service can be a key to your success. The telephone is a make or break element in many business models – fortunes rise and fall on making the phone ring! But what do you do when it does? Here are some best practices.
I recommend having set standards of service with regard customer service in general and for the phone in particular.

Here are some important ones:

  • Answer the phone by the 3rd ring.
  • Make sure the phone is covered during business hours. Assign someone else to cover any gaps when the phone is unmanned, or forward calls.
  • Have an on-hold policy. Statistically most customers will hang up if on hold for 1 min (I would recommend 30 sec to play it safe. If it is likely that they will need to hold more than 30 seconds have someone return their call.
  • Capture contact information systematically so you can return calls or in case you are disconnected. I recommend using a paper or virtual phone memo system. Many CRMs have this feature.
Voicemail Greetings or Out-Going-Messages (OGMs)
  • In general keep your OGM bright (cheerful), quick (long OGMs are tedious), and to the point (it’s not a podcast or inspirational moment).
  • Using your own voice is fine unless it isn’t. If you feel like you need to use a friend or pro who has a pleasant voice.
  • I like to avoid beginning with Hi or Hello – it can spoof people into thinking you are actually answering in person.
  • Let them know they have reached the right mailbox by identifying yourself.
  • As obvious as it seems, people get voicemail stage-fright, so tell them what you need. Three items essentially: name, phone number and reason for calling. Some people say “leave a detailed message.” I personally don’t like long voice-mailbox clogging messages , I would rather them leave a headline, but it’s your judgement call.
  • Saying I’m busy or on another line, etc. is ok but assumed. However, if you like this use the following… “I [or we] can’t take your call right now, so…
  • A couple of formats I like are:
[OGM Example 1] You’ve reached [your name; e.g. John Smith’s] voicemail at [company name] . I value you call and will get back with you as soon as possible. Please leave name, number and the reason for your call.
[OGM Example 2] This is [your name; e.g. John Smith’s] voicemail at [company name]. I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and the reason for your call, I will get back with you as soon as possible.
Phone Services
Run you company from your cell phone? Have a team of virtual nomads working out of different places? Consider the power of Using a phone service. There are several of these like or Google voice. They often the same features that large corporate PBX systems do but affordable and they can scale with you.
Receptionist Script
It seems like this should be general knowledge, but my encounters with receptionists proves this wrong. The following will help.
In general BIG SMILE [It makes a difference trust me] NICE BRIGHT CLEAR VOICE, use FORMS of POLITENESS i.e. PLEASE and THANK YOUS! Answer their thank you’s with I’TS MY PLEASURE.
Good [afternoon, morning] you have reached [business name/branch] this is [receptionist first name] how may I help you?
[listen to their need, and jot down their name Mr. or Mrs…]
[Use their name] It will be my pleasure [or I would be delighted] to help you with that…[problem solve as necessary].
Thank you so much for your call today, may I ask how you heard about us? [listen and jot down, clarify as necessary].
[Make appropriate notes/memos entries into CRMs etc.]
[if there is a problem – empathize “i’m sorry your experiencing a problem with…] I’m sure thats frustrating. I will be happy to help you with that.
Have a nice day [use their name]

Digital Marketing Glossary

I have created this digital marketing glossary to help you navigate the lingo of digital marketing. This is also meant to be an educational resource.

Ever wonder what A/B Split Testing is? How about affiliate marketing, how about a lead magnet, psychographics, sales collaterals and USPs? It’s all in there.


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