In order to provide an experience that will make your customers want to return, your company needs to be ready to meet the inevitable customer demand for your product or service. This can be met with proper inventory, accurate reservations, or adequate staffing.
On our last family vacation, we rented a car with Dollar rental car. After the airport shuttle dropped us off at the pick-up location, we waited in line for almost an hour. The line of customers kept growing and wound its way outside the building. The office was significantly understaffed and the resulting delays strained the customers’ patience.
Ironically, Dollar knew exactly how many people would be picking up cars that morning. Everyone had reservations and there shouldn’t have been any surprises with the customer volume. Don’t let this happen to you.
Predict the Future
There are several formulas for calculating future demand for your products and services. Pete Abilla gives a great introduction to forecasting on his blog. Based on historical numbers, you can predict future demand. This, of course, depends on no unforeseen events changing the customer landscape. But whether forecasting with a formula or gazing into a crystal ball, the point of predicting the future is to help you anticipate future needs based on past performances.
Know the Future
One thing Pete mentions in his post is that “forecasts are no substitute for calculated values.” In the case with Dollar rental car, or other times where your customers have reservations or placed orders, you know what your demand is. Plan accordingly.
Prepare for the Demand
Once you know what customers want, you need to be ready. Staff your business accordingly, stock your inventory, or even extend your hours to compensate for customer demand. You should also have contingency plans in place for when your predictions or preparations are wrong. Empower your employees to solve problems on the spot or compensate customers who don’t get exactly what they want.
Verify and Adjust
Were your assumptions correct? If they were, you should have been able to ride your forecasts to successful sales. If not, learn from your mistakes and adjust your future estimates for next time. Constant iteration and adjustments will refine your predictions so that you can accurately and efficiently deliver on future customer expectations.