How to improve your business’s products
Most businesses will eventually reach a point where it becomes clear that some sort of change is needed, whether that involves expanding into a new market segment, scaling down your operations or restructuring the managerial hierarchy. However, one of the most common ways of instigating change involves improving the existing products and services sold by the firm.
There are several things to consider before, during and after the process of changing your offerings – read on to find out what they are.
First things first – you need to be 100 per cent sure that you want to go ahead with changing your products and that you know why such a big step is required. Your reason may be one of the following:
• Lower sales - A fall in sales may be due to problems with the existing product range, although you should rule out other potential causes before taking measures to change it.
• Changing audience - Your target audience may now have different needs due to changing economic conditions or developments within their industry.
• Geographical expansion - You might need to launch revised versions of your current products to meet the requirements of customers in new geographical markets that you wish to expand into.
• Industry changes - Your own sector might have progressed to the point where your products and services are starting to look out of date.
Whatever the reason, knowing exactly why a product overhaul is needed will go a long way towards helping you determine what to do to improve your offerings.
The next thing to do is get some feedback from your current customers to see whether there’s anything else to consider. Ask them what they like and dislike about what they’ve bought from you, what you could do to make your range better and what might persuade them to keep buying from your company.
This should hopefully help you come up with a list of potential ways to improve your products and/or services.
The process of actually changing your products should involve plenty of careful planning and testing before you go ahead with launching them. This may involve:
• Informing all of the relevant people, both inside and outside the company, of what you plan to do.
• Manufacturing a small batch of products with the new features, or training a select few to deliver an amended service.
• Setting up a small panel of customers who are willing to try out your revised offerings and give constant feedback on them.
• If this last step is successful, placing any orders for new/extra equipment – e.g. more efficient packaging machinery or the latest automated counting equipment - so you’re ready to go with a full-scale re-launch when the time comes.
• Assessing whether any other changes will be required at re-launch, e.g. increases or decreases in price, a new marketing campaign, etc.
Providing you’ve done everything humanly possible to ensure your revised offerings are likely to meet with a positive reception, the launch of your improved products and services should go without a hitch. However, there’s still a bit more work to be done even after this point, including:
• Continuing to ask for feedback from customers who have now tried both the old and new versions of the product, as well as brand new clients.
• Ensuring all of the relevant staff at your company are re-trained (where necessary) so they can manufacture and/or deliver the new offerings as efficiently as possible.
• Carefully tracking sales and comparing them with figures for the old version(s).
• Looking out for opportunities to further tweak your products – or even develop brand new ones.
If all has gone well so far, congratulations! You have successfully improved an existing product or service for the benefit of your business while keeping your customers’ needs in mind.