How to be proactive, not reactive

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    If you look at high-performing businesses, you will notice that they actively plan into the future. They’re always clear on what they want. And their strategic plan is clearly documented.

    Every successful company is proactive in their thinking, and they don’t leave anything to chance. Most importantly, they don’t assume they know; they seek assurance from their customers to ensure they are on track. They can assess how accurately they are predicting the future, and this is always linked to their current business metrics.

    However, many businesses fail to develop a strategic plan. They are mostly reactive to what’s happening today, this week, etc., and focus more on their competition.

    Number-one companies follow the mantra “obsess over your customers, not over your competitors”. They proactively look at how to keep adding value for their customers and how to ensure they give their customers a brilliant service experience. They focus on team training and mentoring to ensure their team can always deliver high standards of customer service.

    By contrast, most companies in reactive mode continually focus on what their competitors are doing and end up in a price war, trying to outdo each other to win customers. The problem with this reactive approach is that it’s challenging to stay focused on your own game because you keep getting trapped in someone else’s.

    The only thing you can control in a competitive market is what you do internally to ensure you deliver service excellence. Trying to control and outwit your competitors is a risky and expensive game.

    Lead your market

    If you focus on doing everything you can to be proactive in the way you deliver service excellence, you will automatically be ahead of your competition. Most are too busy focusing on what everyone else is doing, rather than being strategic in what they’re doing themselves.

    One key reason is that they don’t have any quality data on what’s going on in their business. At best, they have a vague opinion. As W. Edwards Deming said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”, and we all know what that’s worth.

    The only thing you can control in a competitive market is what you do internally to ensure you deliver service excellence

    Knowledge is power

    Being strategically proactive ensures that you have a game plan and measurement to show whether you’re on track. With the correct KPIs, you can measure how well you’re fulfilling your prediction.

    There’s a metric that we call the ‘one number theory.’ It’s at the centre of meas-uring everything that’s going on in your business. A very accurate customer experience measurement provides a clear reflection from an independent market perspective – that is, the true voice of your customer.

    When you can measure critical areas such as the sales process, the implementation and onboarding process, account management, delivery processes, operations (including things like accounts receivable), company-wide communication, and knowledge from the independent perspective of your market, you’ll have a very accurate assessment of how well you’re performing. When you have this information and you keep driving it towards the optimal 10/10 result, you can keep designing in a proactive manner that ensures you’re staying ahead of the game and fulfilling and exceeding customer expectations.

    If you don’t, then you’ll continue to chase everybody else. It’s like driving with your eyes on the rearview mirror. You can only see where you’ve been, and you don’t know where you’re going. It’s extraordinary to think that most companies operate this way. Business growth is directly linked to the customer experience.

    Proactivity pays off

    A proactive approach to the customer experience ensures there is a plan and a commitment to growing revenue, based on increasing the value that you off er to your customers. The more value you provide, the more they’ll spend and the higher margin you’ll receive because they’re happy to pay for quality – but most importantly, they’ll refer their friends and colleagues.

    If you obsess over your customers and not your competitors and put in place very accurate KPIs to understand what your customers value about doing business with you, you’ll be in a powerful position. If you don’t do this, and instead you just wait and see what happens in the challenging economy ahead, it’s potentially a recipe for disaster.

    Darrell Hardidge, customer experience strategy expert and the CEO of customer research company SaguityDarrell Hardidge is a customer experience strategy expert and the CEO of customer research company Saguity, which specialises in driving revenue growth from customer appreciation. He is also the author of The Client Revolution and The 10 Commandments of Client Appreciation. To nd out more, visit

    Original Article