Prepare to Plan for 2014


As we work to hit our numbers for 2013, our minds naturally turn to planning for next year. To quote Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, before jumping right in, you should “first seek to understand.” Here are a few diagnostic steps to take before planning your strategy and operations for 2014.

1. Call your company as a potential client. You can role-play with the employees who answer your phone questions, or better yet, “mystery shop” by using a friend who’s unknown to your staff. Take notes of whose attitudes and interactions are working and what needs to be improved. Sit down with staff members, review the results and get their ideas for improvement. If possible, try to praise things that were done correctly for 70 percent of the meeting while focusing on areas you’ve identified for improvement for the other 30 percent. If one staffer is doing it right and others aren’t, analyze with them how they’re doing it right. Put this in your 2014 plan.

2. Interview three employees from different parts of your company. Start with, “I value your perspective. If you were running our company, how would you make it better? What are the two biggest things we could do in 2014 to make our company better? If we were going to grow, what types of things would you suggest we do?” Follow this with questions based on the employees’ answers. Pull all the answers into a document. Choose one or two that make sense to implement in 2014 and let your team know that these ideas, which were generated by staff members, will be added to your 2014 plan of operational improvements.

3. Reread all your Diamond Certified Research Reports (if you qualify for Diamond Certified). Don’t just focus on the negative survey responses. It’s key for you to understand the exact words that satisfied and super-satisfied customers use to describe their experiences with your company. What can you include in your 2014 plan that will reduce the number of dissatisfied customers and move merely satisfied customers to super-satisfied? Remember, doing “good work for a fair price” is enough to make a customer satisfied, but not super-satisfied. To do that, you need to build in good surprises. According to a Xerox study from the ’90s, very satisfied customers are six times more likely to repurchase and refer than merely satisfied customers. Turning some of the “satisfieds” into “super-satisfieds” will have a big financial impact on your company. You can read more about this at Put this in your 2014 plan.

4. Audit all your company’s digital presentations. In today’s world, nearly every prospective customer looks you up on the web before deciding to buy from you, so your company’s digital presentation is its most important representation. If your company qualifies for Diamond Certified, it will benefit from a web-based Diamond Certified Company Report page that’s more powerful than even your own website because it’s independent and highly trusted.

sample google stars

If you qualify for Diamond Certified and improve the linking to your Diamond Certified Company Report page from your own website, your search ranking will likely improve. More importantly, as shown in the example search result above, your own website will be more powerfully presented in search results because your highly rated Diamond Certified status (based on a large number of surveys) will be presented close to your website’s link. Put this in your 2014 plan.