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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 workarounds (Yep, I’ve done it too!) to bad processes.

Employees also create processes when an adequate one does not exist in an 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 good luck with 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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Top 4 Reasons for Broken Business Processes

Broken processes create frustration for employees, customers, and even vendors, and suppliers. Here are the top four reasons for broken processes that appear during process mapping sessions.

1- Unmet Needs

It is important to know what is required by each person performing tasks within the process. Unmet needs create rework and delays in the process when team members are not provided with the proper elements (information, product, etc.) that allow them to complete their process tasks. The needs of each team member must be clearly defined to ensure process effectiveness.

2- Poor process communication

Considering most processes flow across departments – and even out to suppliers/vendors – communication within the process is critical to its success. It is important to identify critical communication points in the process, methods of communication utilized, and communication content.

Poor process communication creates unnecessary delays, and employee and customer frustration – possibly leading to revenue decline as well as unnecessary employee turnover.

3- The process does not fit the current business status

When a company grows, quite often the processes are not updated to accommodate the additional volume such growth may create. Bottlenecks are often the result when consideration is not given to infrastructure requirements.

Once again delays appear in the process – which can lead to – you guessed it – employee and customer frustration. Process mapping allows one to identify adjustment opportunities that reflect new growth

4- Process results are not measured/monitored

Quite often, process performance is either not measured or not consistently monitored. It is a must to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) for critical processes – especially those connected to revenue generation and customer experience – then consistently monitor performance. Process mapping assists in the ability to determine what is to be measured within the process.

Consider these four reasons when building new or analyzing current broken business processes. The goal is to ensure your processes are efficient, and effective and meet the needs of all participating in or impacted by their performance.

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