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helloBenefits of Analyzing Work Processes
3 Benefits of Analyzing Work Processes

In a current client engagement, we are analyzing their work processes. Now more often than not, this can be very tedious work. The whole purpose of undertaking this task is to assess the present condition of the company’s operations in regard to efficiency, customer centricity, and employee productivity.

While this may seem to be a daunting task, the return on the time investment is well worth the effort. Let’s look at three benefits of analyzing processes.

Insights Gained

An important step in process analysis projects is to interview the people who actually perform the work in the process. I like to spend time with clients’ employees as they perform their duties and document step-by-step what they actually do when completing job tasks. The amount of insight gained from this approach usually proves very enlightening to management personnel.

Oftentimes, employees develop their own set of work steps to complete their tasks within the process. When they deem the process too cumbersome or inefficient, employees will create “workarounds” in order to get the work done in a timely manner – especially when their pay is tied to performance. After completing this task, opportunities to remove delays or inefficiencies and to introduce improvements become apparent.

Teamwork

It’s true that most processes are cross-functional – meaning they may start in one department and travel across others within the company. Analyzing processes requires participation from everyone that performs a task within the process.

I like to get all of the participants in one room and go through the process step by step to insure that “yes – that’s how we do it today.” Then we start to get process improvement ideas. Discussions arise in regard to the proper way to complete the steps within the process.

Employees can communicate face-to-face to build a process that fits the needs of all departments, stakeholders, and customers. Once done, employees feel as though they have a stake in the success of the process, as they were given the opportunity to communicate their ideas and concerns.

Enhanced Training

Proficiency in one’s assigned tasks helps to build confidence in employees. Training is one way to assist in building proficiency. As a company analyzes and documents all of its work processes, training tools become easily creatable.

These documented processes can be used to develop standard operating procedures and policies. Both new and tenured employees now have a reference point to insure they are properly performing their assigned duties.

“How to” documents and videos are some additional training products that can be produced when one develops and documents efficient employee and customer-friendly processes. Your entire operation will certainly run smoother, your employees will be happier and your customers will certainly receive great service.

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helloFundamentals
Don’t Skip the Fundamentals!

It’s important to remember that being fundamentally sound will certainly help in the quest to operate a successful company. Now one can have a great product or service to offer to one’s market, but it’s the ability to operate in an efficient, employee and customer-friendly manner that will lead to long-term success. Here are a few fundamentals that I feel are important.

Leadership Fundamentals

Make sure that whoever is in charge has the ability to lead. Does this person possess the characteristics to properly lead a group of people? Do they have the ability to see the big picture and understand how all the pieces of the company function as a whole? Can this person think in times of duress versus making hurried decisions that may prove to be disastrous? Are they able to listen and empathize with the employees for whom they are responsible? Do they take the time to understand how the customer experiences the company’s products or services? These are just a few questions to consider for determining if your leaders possess the right fundamentals.

Hiring Fundamentals

One’s hiring process must be just that – a process. Does your company have a written hiring process? Can one quickly determine what steps are required when hiring a new employee? Is one able to identify what skill set a candidate should possess? Have you considered what type of interview methods to utilize – one on one or group interviews?

Training Fundamentals

Training is key to an employee’s ability to provide the best customer experience possible and to meet employer expectations. Does your company have a formal training program? Are employees probed for feedback regarding training effectiveness? Do not, Do not skip this fundamental!

Management Fundamentals

How one manages employees can determine how long they decide to remain with your company and will also impact the level of service received by your customers.

Do you have job descriptions and performance standards for each position in your company? Can you get employee performance results on a daily basis without having to ask employees for the information? Are there regularly scheduled feedback sessions – independent of the employee performance review? Do employees know what company key performance indicators impact their tasks? Are performance reviews objectively based or are they vague and subjective?

These are just a few of the fundamentals required for the long-term success of any company. Flash and dash is good, but fundamentals create the foundation on which to build a solid organization.

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helloIncreasing Customer Retention
4 Steps to Increasing Customer Retention

In these days of fierce competition, it’s crucial to do everything that one can to protect one’s customer base. The ability to retain customers is based on how well your internal operations run. While it’s important to smile and be nice to customers, it’s a good idea to make sure that your internal systems are able to consistently perform at optimum levels. Do you want better customer retention? Let’s take a look at how to get you there.

Map and Analyze Your Internal Processes

When working with clients, I always like to start here. Process mapping gives one an overview of what is actually happening within one’s company. Customers are impacted by your internal processes. How well your processes are constructed determines the level of service received by your customer.

Hand-off points and delays become clearly visible during this exercise. Process participants can communicate their requirements for completing their part of the process. Customer communication points can be identified. Process cycle time can be determined as well.

Create Consistency

It’s important that your company has a standard way of completing routine tasks. With your employees’ assistance, determine the best way to complete tasks and then develop standard operating procedures. These procedures become a guideline to follow to ensure consistent service delivery. This step also creates confident employees who can truly say “Yes – I do know how to complete that task.” Confident employees create happy customers.

Proactively Seek Feedback

Always, always, always proactively seek both customer and employee feedback. Where possible, attempt to get customer feedback immediately after their experience with your company. Solicit employee feedback regarding ways to improve internal operations. When you proactively seek feedback, the way your customers and employees view your company goes to another level. The information gained can be utilized to improve the experience received by both parties.

Analyzing Customer Complaints

It’s one thing to solicit customer complaints, but it’s another to analyze the complaint information. Look for patterns – is there an issue with one of your service offerings? What time of day are you receiving the most complaints?

Is there a particular location that generates the most complaints? On which day of the week do you receive the most complaints? Do the complaints point to a particular process within your company? Did the complaints start after a new product launch? Analyzing your complaints will point you in the direction of quick resolution of the complaint sources.

Want better customer retention? Look inside your business first. How you do what you do will determine how well you retain customers!

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helloInternal Communication Does Create Customer Experiences
Internal Communication Does Create Customer Experiences

Internal Communication

In my role as an operations consultant, one of my primary goals when on a client assignment is to ascertain the level of internal communication across departments.

I believe this is important as the level of service received by the paying customer is directly impacted by how well internal departments communicate with one another. How does one improve internal communication? Here a few items to consider implementing.

Map Your Internal Communication Processes

I recommend this for the first step as it will clearly identify where internal communication between departments hand-offs or dependencies occurs. Departments can then clearly see how and when they impact one another. For instance – How does the sales department affect operations? How does operations affect the customer service department? How does the customer service department affect field services? How does field services affect the customer service department? One can then determine if departmental requirements are being met.

This creates the need for cross-functional dialogue which leads to the understanding of departmental perspectives and needs. Discussion around what is needed, what the fulfillment of that need should look like, when that need should be provided, and how that need should be provided is a typical conversation that takes place after mapping processes.

Develop Internal Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the Hand-offs or Dependencies

I always suggest that key performance indicators are developed to measure how well departments are servicing one another via hand-offs and dependencies. The goal for each KPI should be set at 100%.

For instance – if the sales team is responsible for gathering specific new customer or prospect information that is to be utilized by others within the company, how often is it actually being done? Or when customer service is tasked with advising customers of field services arrival time, is it in fact taking place? Now, this particular recommendation requires an effort to record how well the hand-offs and dependency KPIs are being met, but it’s important to have real data to discuss during internal communications. KPI results must be discussed on a regular basis.

This requirement promotes focused cross-functional internal communication and fosters teamwork within the company. Remember, when internal needs are not fully met, some form of rework is required to properly meet the required standard. Rework is a costly, inefficient use of an employee’s time.

Put Your Internal Customer’s Shoes On

In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to improve internal communication is to spend time with your internal customers as they perform their particular duties. One can then see up close and personal the impact of one’s actions. I feel that this should be a mandatory exercise as it has a three-fold effect:

1. Cross-functional communication is once again fostered.

2. Employees gain mutual respect for one another.

3. Employee morale improves. When one feels heard and understood and when one’s concerns are acted upon, one’s morale usually responds in a positive manner.

Want to improve internal communications? Try Mapping Your Internal Process to identify hand-offs and dependencies, Develop Key Performance Indicators for these hand-offs and dependencies and Put Your Internal Customer’s Shoes On. These three items are sure to create a lot of internal communication!

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