When Times Are Tough, How Do You Decide Where to Scale Back?

Mark Anderson (@Andertoons)  is a well-known small business cartoonist His cartoons have been featured in Readers Digest, Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping and many more impressive companies and publications.

He also publishes a weekly fun post on Small Business Trends and this one has caught my attention:

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This cartoon got me thinking about the many corporate exercises I’ve been involved in where we were trying to make the tough decision of where to cut back.  We would get into a room and literally fight it out for HOURS.

There is a better way to figure out where to cut — you can actually use your customers feedback to tell you where to cut back and where to enhance your offer so that you not only cut costs – but you can actually become more competitive as well.

How to ask your customers on where to cut back

You wouldn’t actually want to ask your customers WHERE they think you should cut back – but you CAN ask them what’s important to them and then use that information to invest time and money into what’s important and will make you the obvious choice for them.

Use the Importance/Satisfaction question type to get to what matters to customers.

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Simply go into the edit survey tab and add a question.

Then select Advanced Question Type – and you’ll see the “Importance/Satisfaction” question.  Choose that one.

The next thing you want to do is create a list of all the features or offers or capabilities that are on the cost cutting chopping block.

Prioritize your list — you don’t want to create this list of 20 items.  Create a list of no more than 7 at a time.

Then ask your customers how important that feature is to them and then have them rate your PERFORMANCE on that feature — or their SATISFACTION with your performance in that area.

You can also pull an advanced move and ask your customers to list alternative sources (competitors) for that product or service and have them rate their satisfaction with THEM in those same areas.

What you’ll get as a result is a grid that outlines exactly where you should put your money and your time.  You might find out that what YOU thought was important isn’t important to your customer AND it’s costing you money.

Have you already done something like this?  Share your experiences in the comments!