I was on our flight down to Riviera Maya in Mexico to celebrate our 1 year anniversary and invite both families down to share in our joyous occasion, when I started thinking about everything I was reading about the upcoming recession and how the government was giving us back money only to have "us" being consumers go and buy unnecessary items. What it brought me to was this notion that with companies potentially limiting their spending or moreso being more cash-conscious, there were going to be areas that would still see significant growth from consumer spending and some areas that would be able to make use of their funds by leveraging those consumers and their insights. So here are my top 10 observations on how customers will lead you to the promise land during a recession:
1. Companies will downsize and outsource to create cost efficiency and at the same time lessen the control they have at certain customer touch points. Look for these companies to invest in ways to garner and respond to customer feedback.
2. Softening real estate creates opportunity for franchisees. Listen to your customers and bring your business closer to them in areas where dirt is cheap and getting access to former corporate managers gets easier with layoffs.
3. Companies, who can, will gain more market share and more customers.
4. Corporations will cut too quickly, require emergency outsourcing. Customer feedback is critical to this process, better have it in place.
5. Innovation will lead to product diversification, increasing the number of vendors you'll have to deal with also. Have a system in place to capture business critical data to ensure smooth transitions and that all those who need it are getting it. Look for an increase in Employee Feedback platforms.
6. SBA is trying to automate front end customer service. This will require employee ideas and suggestions.
7. Consumers cut spending, adopt better "green" products and initiatives. Players in this market will need ways to capture customer feedback to innovate on existing technologies and products.
8. Going Green = new processes, services & products = solution for capturing employee and customer feedback.
9. VC and Angel wells will start to dry in the tech industry. Getting to critical mass is one thing, but having a way of managing all those customers is another. Keep them happy and your word of mouth will spread; bring them discomfort and you'll have to pay to bring them back.
10. Entrepreneurs and Companies alike will look outside of their doors for new revenue streams in the form of partnership distribution channels. Gather the feedback on how it's going and take action.
As the election year 2008 moves on and we progress into this upcoming recession, look to your customers to help you shape and finetune your products, strategies and direction. At the end of the day they're the ones paying and keeping you in business.