How to Handle Company Growth (Without Compromising Your Customer Service)
Though it's not a commonly used metric, needing more parking spaces is a good indicator that your company is growing. That sounds like a joke, but it's exactly what happened with iClick, which increased sales by 275 percent over last year. The company jumped a record 29 spots on our Top 50 Suppliers list between 2017 and this year. Crazy, right?
We had the opportunity to sit down with Taek Sung, senior vice president of sales and marketing for iClick, to talk about what spurred the growth and how to handle it when it happens.
He called it a "wild ride."
"When I first came in, we were selling USBs and pens," he said. "PopSockets were starting to get a little popularity. We really put a lot of effort and investment in growing the PopSocket business for us."
That required going from one printer to seven printers for producing PopSockets. The supplier is producing 7,000 every day now. In that time iClick also tripled its staff and expanded its warehouse capabilities.
"It's really put us on the map in a very positive way," he said. "I think the huge benefit is it's allowed us to really invest in the company, and create a new company."
The biggest challenge he's had to face (aside from the demand for parking) is that iClick, which had built a reputation for its USB products, now had to educate its customer base on its new products and the new identity that came along with more capabilities and offerings.
With that growth, there's the natural fear of not being able to do what you used to. Some companies outgrow customers or services that they were once known for during their evolution and growth. Sung said that, while their growth was staggering, it was paramount for the company to keep its day-to-day operations the same as it has been, or as close to it as possible, for the sake of giving the customer the service they're used to.
One, I think, great thing about us, and what we're really proud of, is that we've almost grown 500 percent in the last year and a half, but our service levels have not declined at all. And it reminded me of a story when I first came in. We have these [service-level agreements] out there, like 30-minute quotes, one-hour mockups, we'll answer the phone in three rings or less, and I mentioned to my president at the time, 'Hey, we're going to grow so fast these SLAs are going to be challenged.' And he retorted back to me, 'Taek, no matter how fast we grow, I'm going to invest to make sure we can keep up our service levels.' So I'm really proud that we've been able to do that.
And they have. It came at the expense of having to shuttle some employees from off-site parking, and maybe a longer wait to use the restroom than usual, but iClick proved that when enormous growth happens in a small window of time, if you reinvest in your business appropriately, you can not only manage the growth without losing control, but keep doing the things you do well.