The cheapest alternative to know what to improve on your products or services is to first ask your employees. They may not be totally representative of your specific market, but they are most likely close to what you would get if you spent lots of money on customer focus groups, market feedback seminars and extensive and expensive scientific market testing.
Ask your employees because the feedback is quicker and free. Ask and get opinions from your own employees. Your employees know where excess costs are lurking. They are consumers and spend money carefully every day. Knowing the market, sometimes they have some insights that are worth tapping. Ask because their input is free and it is always good to hear blunt comments.
Start questions in your own company; keep costs low at first. Go down the hallway and ask several sales reps separately seek market questions, customer likes and dislikes and anything else that seems to be bothering the company’s clients.
Ask lots of questions; it is free and answers may surprise you. Ask what is wrong with the products or services your firm offers now. Ask what other products you should try adding and which are not worth the capital expended. Ask what you can do to change your current products? Ask plenty of questions and be quiet while your employees that are in the market every day tell you how to save your company.
Questions to ask your employees about your current product offering and changes they would like to see:
- Are there any products our company makes that you think we should expand or change (i.e. Different colors, different sizes, available with different components)?
- Is there a way we can cut down or reduce our cost of packaging? Can you think of the worst item that requires hard to use or difficult packaging?
- Do you see a way to cut down on the time it takes to finish a product?
- Have you watched any machine that tears up or ruins products? Which machine was it? What did it do?
- Do you know of faulty tooling, bad tools or old equipment that requires too long to use? Does it cause the operator to ruin a product or leave marks or cause damage while it is being used?
- Do you see a way to cut down the labor cost on assembly of any product?
- Which product takes lots of people and requires a tremendous amount of time?
- Which product that the company makes causes problems for other products? (i.e. product process leaves residue, oil or dirt or accumulated material behind, requires cleanout of the machine before another can be run, wear and tear causes the machine to need service, other particular or specific machine downtime problems due to the manufacture of this product).
- Can you think of one process you know about that takes too long or needs something developed to speed it up? Have you thought of this while working in the past?
- Have you noticed any product that we make that seems to take too long or takes too many people or seems to use too much material?
- Was there any product that seems outdated or needs to be rejuvenated? (i.e. upgrade taste on food or drink products, add a new flavor for a food, add a new color for a paper product or ink pen, add a new beautiful cover or faster charger or easy carrying case to the purchase)
- If you had to identify one thing or one area to improve in the facility where you work, what should we change?
- What can we add to make our products more useable, fun, easy to handle, more pliable, more pleasant to hold, more attractive, lighter weight, more flexible, more durable, longer lasting, brighter, more luxurious, less noisy, less rough, smoother, more desirable to women, more desirable to men, more exciting for children or some other feature applicable to your company’s marketing strategy?
- What one thing are we doing wrong?