I’ve spent more than 20 years in business, and every entrepreneur I’ve ever spoken to and worked with wants to grow their company, with most looking to ‘hit the big time’. It’s what gets them out of bed in the morning. Even Salesforce was once a small fish in a big pond, so we know what it’s like to start small and grow fast.
I’ve found that mid-market companies in particular often find it challenging to stay on track when they’re in a period of accelerated growth. Sometimes these companies can be so focused on making sure growth happens that they fail to adequately plan for the impact of the growth. So how can ambitious, hungry leaders continue to scale up their business – without breaking down?
In my opinion, one of the key reasons successful businesses such as Deliveroo and Airbnb have taken off is because they’ve identified the steps they need to take and the tools they need to scale over time at each stage of their growth – from startup to small business, to mid-sized and finally a large-scale, global company. The CEOs of these companies have put in place a responsible and realistic growth strategy which not only brings them success in the long run but ensures employees and customers continue the journey with them.
With this in mind here are three steps that I believe a good CEO can take to avoid the “growing pains” of scaling up, while still disrupting the competition.
Remain focused on your customers
During my career I’ve worked for companies across many markets and industries. While every region and sector has its own nuances, I’ve learnt that ultimately customers want the same thing from just about any company. They want to be intimately understood.
Only when this level of mutual understanding is achieved do customers truly start to become loyal to your business. Small businesses are traditionally brilliant at this as they have the motivation to offer their customers a much more highly personalised service compared to their larger competitors. It can, however, be harder to achieve as your business grows. Yet this level of customer service needs to remain a top priority at all times.
Add to this the fact that these days’ customers interact with a business across several different channels – for example website, mobile app, phone, in-store and social – and a laser focus on providing personalised customer service can get lost in the noise. The most effective way to manage these interactions is to create a single view of your customers, bringing together all of their information from every channel so that everyone from marketing to sales to service to finance can access the data and act on it accordingly.
Quintessentially is a luxury lifestyle management service that promises to deliver a responsive service to its customers all the time, regardless of country or time zone. Therefore, it’s essential the team centralises customer information and requests so that they can keep that promise. They do this by logging every customer interaction – whether it originates from the company’s online portal, email, mobile app or phone call – via Salesforce Service Cloud. This not only provides the team with a single view of its customers but it then makes it easier for the business to see what resources are needed to fulfill requests. By understanding their customers intimately, Quintessentially can meet their needs more efficiency and in turn exceed expectations.
Learn the power of IT to enhance productivity
If there’s anyone who can claim they ‘wear many hats’ at work, it’s the CEO of a fast growing company. They’re the face of the business, head fundraiser and principal cheerleader, not to mention the person who bears the weight of the entire company on their shoulders. What’s more there’s all the behind the scenes work that has to be done – admin, finance, legal requirements, lead support…the list is seemingly endless.
One way to save yourself and your team an enormous amount of time is to adopt intelligent technology that automates and improves some of your most tedious processes. The right software can often cut hours of busywork per person per week by automatically capturing and organising data, prioritising tasks, simplifying collaboration and sharing, and allowing sales teams to work efficiently from mobile devices.
Perkbox, the employee motivation company, is a great example of this. In just 12 months, the company’s headcount has doubled to 120 employees and they’ve been able to disrupt white-collar office culture by bringing people a brand that they can relate to. The team use CRM technology to drill down into customer behaviour and find out which products are popular and where customers are having issues. Access to this data allows Perkbox to develop bespoke strategies for dealing with different issues. For example, they can slice and dice data to identify the propensity for churn based on the size of the company, the package they subscribe to, or any issues in account management. By using technology smartly, Perkbox has seen its churn rate drop from 30% to 15% over the past year.
Invest in your company culture and your people
We all know that growing a successful business doesn’t happen by accident. You need leaders who can create a compelling vision for success, build a plan to achieve it, and then rally a team around that plan.
You may know your ‘company truth’ as your mission statement, key success factors, founder’s philosophy, or something else. What you call it isn’t important — what matters is that every employee knows and shares the vision, goals and core values that will drive your company forward and serve as the benchmarks of your success. Every organisation has a slightly different focus or approach, but regardless of these nuances, in almost all successful businesses, core values are centered on the customer.
A great way to bring a company’s mission to life is to intentionally turn them into traditions that become part of the company culture. For example, if customer value, innovation, and community service are your top priorities — then customer service awards, innovation labs, or community outreach projects might become meaningful traditions. They’re also a fun way to engage and inspire new employees. And as your company grows, these initiatives that were established early on serve as an anchor to the original culture that makes the company special.
The key point for CEOs to keep in mind is that growth is a journey – for your business as well as for your customers. By creating your strategy for growth in a way that keeps the customer right at the centre of the process, you can create a truly sustainable trajectory for every stage of your business as it grows and succeeds.