Key Performance Indicators and Your Business
Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPIs, are core measurements that businesses use to monitor progress toward achieving goals and targets. KPIs, which vary widely by industry and entity structure, can be used to monitor and track all aspects of your business,. Management teams pay close attention to KPIs, looking for anything out of line that indicates action needs to be taken. In this two-part series on KPIs, we’ll look at the difference between KPIs and metrics, methods for choosing KPIs, how to define KPIs and the best ways to track and communicate findings.
Metrics versus KPIs: What’s what?
KPIs and metrics are often conflated because all KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics can (or should) be considered KPIs.
Metrics are data driven, quantifiable measures that track performance. Created from data compiled periodically (such as accounting-based metrics) or continually from a live data source, metrics allow businesses to monitor progress toward achieving goals and objectives.
How to determine which metrics qualify as KPIs?
Peter Drucker, one of the most widely influential thinkers on the subject of management theory and practice, wrote “What gets measured gets managed.” As such, not every metric is truly “key” for your business. If you treat all metrics as equal and don’t differentiate between what really matters, then nothing will stand out and you’ll manage everything equally. This is why it is critical to select the metrics most important to you and your business and designate those as your KPIs.
Metrics Still Matter
Your KPIs might be your most important metrics, but this doesn’t mean the other metrics don’t matter. When something goes awry with one of your KPIs, you’ll need to dig into other metrics to understand the problem, identify the root cause and correct course.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Who’s Performing Best of All?
Not everything your business gauges will be an accurate measure of performance. Metrics that feel good to track but don’t have much impact on progress are often called “vanity metrics.” Vanity metrics are fun to get excited about, but they don’t actually provide much value or insight.
The entire point of carefully selecting KPIs is so that you focus on what really matters to your bottom line.
How to choose KPIs that matter
Delivering the right metrics to the right people at the right time allows you and your team to collaborate, make decisions and take actions based on data. KPIs can go beyond just providing focus to create a cohesive unity among your team in working toward a common objective, but only if they are well defined and easy to comprehend. Next month we’ll look at how to transform a bunch of numbers into something actionable and meaningful.
Before we get into the specifics, the simple way to drill down and select a handful of metrics is by asking two central questions. First, what are you trying to achieve and, second, how will you know if you’ve achieved it?
Stay tuned next month for a continuation of this discussion and more answers to your questions.
Get More Customer Referrals
How to Get More Customer Referrals
When it comes to finding new clients, businesses can do so in many ways. Whether a radio or television spot, or an advertisement on a website, social media platform or digital billboard, the goal is to reach new viewers. Another cost-effective way is to develop more customer referrals. In fact, according to The New York Times, referrals account for 65 percent of a company’s new accounts. As an important part of marketing, how can organizations more effectively accomplish this type of advertising?
One under-utilized way to get referrals is to simply ask existing customers if they would kindly refer your product or service to others. Based on statistics from Texas Tech University, 83 percent of customers are happy to refer a company’s product or service, yet only 29 percent of these customers follow through. Often all it takes to get a referral is expressing your gratitude to existing customers whose expectations have been exceeded and showing them how they can refer your company’s products or services.
There are considerations, however, concerning when to ask for that referral. When it comes to a customer who requested a rush job to have their website built over the weekend, it might be more effective to ask for a referral immediately after they’ve had a chance to see the website. Following up shortly after the project’s completion can make the most of a referral request because that’s when the client is most impressed.
There are other scenarios when it could be more effective to ask for a referral well after the sale. When it comes to enterprise application software, such as software that backs up files passively in the background at each user’s endpoint, or when using automated billing or payment processing systems, clients will not see the results for a few weeks, months or longer. For products that produce results over the long term, ask permission to follow up with the client in 90 or 180 days for feedback on how the product has performed. A client might not need a backup for six months; and it could take a month or two for a client to analyze their sales reports to see the software’s effectiveness.
Leverage Social Media Platforms
What matters less than the type of social media platform is the ease and ability of a company to use this media to ask for and receive a referral. If a customer expresses a highly positive review based upon a recent experience, social media can be leveraged to increase referrals for a business. Push friendly reminders and embedded links via social media, email newsletters and on your website to encourage clients to post a Tweet, Facebook comment or photo on Instagram as a referral for your company.
While there’s no single avenue to seek new business, taking care of your current clients is one way that can pay dividends now and in the future.