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The People or the Process?

When issues arise when a customer is dissatisfied or a mistake occurs, it’s commonplace to blame employees for the customer’s discontent. Now I’m in the mindset that most people come to work to do a good job. I believe that most people do not get up in the morning thinking “I’m going to purposely create chaos for customers and peers at work today!” Every once in a while you’ll find a knucklehead employee that just wants to do what they want to do, but that’s rare in my opinion. I’m more inclined to believe that it’s more than likely a process issue vs an employee issue.

When speaking of processes as the culprit, I’m thinking of two processes in particular:

The process/processes connected to the issue.
The employee training process for the process/processes connected to the issue.
Let’s take a look at each of these.

The Process/Processes Connected to the Issue
Identify and examine the process/processes connected to the issue. Are there gaps that create customer dissatisfaction?. Employees create work arounds (Yep, I’ve done it too!) to bad processes. Employees also create processes when an adequate one does not exist in attempt to make sure things go smoothly. Remember, most people come to work to do a good job and often go to these lengths to do so.

The Employee Training Process for the Process/Processes Attached to the Issue
Now let’s say that the process is well defined and contains all of the necessary elements of a good process. The next question to ask is – What does the employee training process look like? It doesn’t matter that you have a great process when the employee training process is lacking. It’s imperative that employees are provided with the proper training to ensure that their actions do not negatively impact the processes in which they operate. Training should include verification that employees comprehend the training and can demonstrate the ability to correctly perform their process tasks.

When customer discontent presents itself, be more inclined to focus on processes. It’s not always a people issue.

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Why is the Customer Angry?

Why is the customer angry?

I see so much information about how to handle an angry customer. My question is – Why is the customer angry? Are multiple customers angry about the same thing? Does anybody know? I spent a lot of my corporate career asking this question. There would be discussions regarding the need to properly handle customer complaint calls. My question would always be – “Why are we receiving customer complaint calls? Does anybody know? The complaint is a symptom of an underlying problem. Has anyone taken this into consideration?”

Customer complaints are often the product of broken processes. When one takes the time to identify and examine the process connected to the complaint, often there is evidence that the process is creating customer complaints. During one corporate stop, a particular billing cycle created an inordinate amount of inbound calls from customers. I sat with a few customer service representatives to get an understanding of what about this particular billing cycle caused the inbound calls to spike, “It’s real simple Errol, the billing information received by the customer is wrong” is what I was told. There was an error in the bill creation process for this cycle. After bringing this to the attention of the correct department, the error was corrected. Guess what? Yep, no more customer complaints because of improper billing on this billing cycle.

Are your processes creating angry customers? Are steps missing in the process that can create angry customers? Conduct angry customer prevention by examining processes that impact the customer. Take a good luck at your customer facing processes via process mapping to ensure they will not create customer complaints. Mapping your processes step by step with the right people helps to identify improvement opportunities that can lead to the elimination of customer complaints. Remember – the goal is to not have a pattern of customer complaints vs focusing on learning how to handle customer complaints.

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Haste Makes Waste Boy

“Haste makes waste boy.”

I heard this statement from my Dad a lot as a kid. I would often get in a hurry which usually resulted in me making mistakes. In one instance, there was a hole in a heater hose on my car. In my haste to change the hose, I created a bigger problem. Well, you know who shows up asking questions ( I guess that’s where I get asking questions from.) to gain an understanding of what created the situation that I now found myself facing. After determining that it was haste that contributed to the now bigger issue, he uttered that statement – “Haste makes waste, boy.” He wasn’t upset, wasn’t yelling (My Dad was the calmest person that I have ever known.) just said it in that low tone of his.

It eventually hit me that he was trying to get me to think things through before taking action. What is the situation? What steps are necessary for taking the right action? What is needed to assist in taking the right action.
It’s the same method that I utilize with clients when creating processes – asking questions. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Getting answers to these questions requires one to think things through which leads to creating efficient and effective processes.

Even now, when tempted to get in a hurry, I can still hear my Dad say “Haste makes waste boy.”

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A Boss vs A Leader

The difference between a boss and a leader:

A boss thinks their opinion is the only one that matters.

A leader knows the importance of taking the opinion of others into consideration.

A boss demeans and disrespects them who can contribute to the success of the entity.

A leader understands the importance of everyone’s contribution and seeks to treat others respectfully.

A boss throws temper tantrums in order to get others to comply.

A leader is mature enough to know the importance of maintaining self control.

A boss will enlist the assistance of “yes” people in an attempt to “shame” someone into compliance.

A leader asks questions to understand why people think the way they do.

Be a leader, not a boss. Leaders never run out of people willing to assist them on their mission. Bosses find themselves constantly starting over again.

Here’s a leadership related article that you may find interesting – “10 Rules of Leadership to Build (and Retain!) the Best Team”.

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