In every business there are a number of factors that are critical to the success of the business. These factors do change for every business but it is quite important to find what they are and see what you can do to ensure they are being maintained in your business.
You may be wondering what a critical success factor is, so i have a few examples.
- Pizza Shop – The most important critical success factor for a pizza shop is delivery time. From time of order to delivery to the customer needs to be as short as possible, or people will look for a quicker solution.
- Coffee shop – Again the time from order to coffee at your table is important, customers often have a expectation on the amount of time from when they sit down till their order is taken, and then from placing the order to it arriving at the table. However another factor for coffee shops is achieving the correct taste, under or over extracted coffee, or milk being burned can all create different taste’s and affect the customers experience.
- Banks – The biggest critical success factor for banks, is really the length of the queue, people do not want to wait and the longer they wait the more impatient they often get. However while this is a factor, it is often something people have little control of by changing, as the effort required to change banks is substantial often. Other critical success factors for banks though can include the level of fees charged, and the level of service they provide.
It is quite important to know what the critical success factors of your business are, and to be able to track just how your business is performing against these factors. Because if you do not know what they are and how you compare to your customers expectations, you could be potentially losing a lot of business. So where do you start.
- Where to start – Take a critical look at your business, talk to customers and find out what is most important to them, and use this information to come up with 2 or 3 factors that define what your customers expectations are.
- With the information – One you have the information on what your 2 or 3 factors are, take a look at what the perceived expectation is, and how your business is currently meeting this.
- How to implement – You know what the factors are and how they are currently working in your business, now you need to look at how you can implement processes to improve these factors within the business.
Lets take a look at how this process would work for a Furniture store.
The manger takes a look at the store and finds that a lot of people are leaving while the sales people are checking on stock availability. When he goes and speaks with the customer’s as they are leaving he finds out that they feel it takes to long to find out if the product is in stock and they never know how long they are going to have to wait. Following this he speaks with the staff and find that they are having a lot of trouble with accessing stock information, through only a single computer and a lack of product information searching can take lot of time, and often will just go and physically look for the stock as an easier solution.
After getting the information the manager decides to make a few changes, he changes the information provided on the product price tags to include a inventory reference number, this will speed up finding the product when using the computer. Additionally he decides to add 4 computers spread around the showroom, so that staff don’t have to leave the customer to check stock or only for a very short time.
These two tasks make a large improvement to the time it takes to get stock availability information and is reflected greatly in improved revenue in the coming months. While this is a fictitious example, it is very close to what is potentially possible. If you have an area that is time consuming or takes the sales person away from the customer for to long, then you risk the customer leaving and resolving this problem can make big changes.
So don’t hesitate to look at your critical success factors and take action to improve them. Your business could be much better for the effort.