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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 regards 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 a client’s 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 “work arounds” 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 regards 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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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 their tasks impact? 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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Keys To a Great In-Home Service Experience

There are a multitude of in-home service providers in today’s economy. Carpet cleaners, appliance installation/repair, cable TV/internet service just to name a few. When providing in-home service at the customer’s residence, it’s important to have a plan for providing a great customer experience. Take the following into consideration when developing your plan.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Timely communication is a key aspect of your in-home service plan. When your customer sets an appointment, advise the customer that you will contact them again 24 or 48 hours prior just to verify that they will be available at the scheduled time. Provide your customer with instructions on how to cancel or reschedule their appointment. Call the customer again the day of the scheduled appointment. Verify the service to be provided. Make sure that the service provider is clear on the service he/she is to provide. If possible, have the service provider call when en route to the customer’s residence. Your willingness to effectively communicate will set your business apart from the competition.

Before You Ring the Door Bell
I remember having an issue with my home AC unit where service was required. When the service provider arrived, I couldn’t tell what company he represented. No signage on his truck. No uniform. No company ID. And his girlfriend was in the truck with him! Not the way to make the customer feel at ease. It’s important to make a good presentation of one’s company at the customer’s residence. Is the company or contractor vehicle clean with company signage readily visible? Is the service provider dressed in a clean company uniform? Does the service provider present his/her company ID before entering the customer’s residence? Has the service provider slipped on shoe covers so as not to inadvertently soil a customer’s floors? These are all things to consider before ringing the doorbell!

The Service Experience
When it comes to the providing a great in-home service experience, two key ingredients are one’s ability to ask the right questions coupled with excellent listening skills. As a service provider, it’s a good idea to establish the service the customer is expecting to receive during your visit. “Sir/Ma’am – I here today to -” just to make sure you and the customer are on the same page before starting the actual physical service process. When at a customer’s residence to resolve an issue another key ingredient to add to your skill set is the ability to ask the right questions? When did the problem start? Where is the noise located? What time of day is the issue most prevalent? By allowing your customer to answer questions, you make them a part of the service experience. Most customers appreciate being asked these questions and it helps one to possibly pinpoint the issue or maybe change resolution strategies.

Rate My In-Home Service Please!
It’s important to know how your customer feels about the level of service provided during their in-home service. Customer feedback is important to consistently providing great in-home service experience. While in the customer’s residence, provide a short (5 to 10 questions) survey for the customer to complete right on the spot. The experience is fresh in the customer’s mind which oftentimes leads to a more accurate rating. Offer the survey right before removing equipment, tools or whatever is required for service completion. The customer can complete the survey while you’re loading the truck. Create the survey with what’s important to the customer in mind: Timeliness, Effective Communication, Level of Service Provided and Service Provider Appearance (clean uniform, shoe covers, company ID, etc.) among other possible categories. Customers love to give feedback – let them give their opinion regarding your service. It helps service providers stay on their toes and helps one to determine what’s really important to customers.

In-home service is a big deal in today’s world. Make sure you’re creating great in-home customer experiences by Communicating, making sure service providers create the right impression Before Ringing the Doorbell, providing a great Service Experience and allowing the customer Rate Your Services.

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Quality Standards Create Great Customer Experiences

While spending the day with an installation technician during my most recent consulting assignment, it became apparent that this individual was focused on the quality of his work. The way he took measurements and utilized his various tools were indications that he was interested in providing a quality installation. When asked the reason for his methods, here’s his reply – “Errol, when I finish this installation, I don’t want to return because of a mistake that could have been prevented had I taken my time to do the job properly.” As he continued with the installation, I made notes on what I felt were items that would create a quality standard for this particular installation. When the technician completed the installation, we spoke about my notes. “If I were to prepare a quality checklist for an installation of this type, do my notes contain everything that should be on that checklist?” I asked. After reviewing the notes for a few minutes, he gave me a few additional items for the checklist. The idea for the checklist was to create a standard for all of the technicians to follow in order to ensure the customer has a great customer experience with the product after the technician departs. Here are a few ways quality standards assist in creating great customer experiences.

Standards Assist in Communicating the Customer Experience Goals – When developing quality standards, determine what the end result should look like and work backwards. It’s important that the individual service providers have a clear picture of their individual goals. Individual methods such as step sequence may be slightly different regarding task completion, but the end result should be the same. A customer should receive the same level of service no matter the individual service provider. Make sure the standard for the end result is based upon what’s important to the customer. Service organizations such as hotels, restaurants, in home services and others where tasks are somewhat repetitive are good candidates for incorporating quality standards. Service providers can self – check their work against the standard to insure their task performance is contributing to a great customer experience.

Standards Assist In Reducing the Need for Rework – When service providers are provided with quality standards along with the proper training to perform their respective tasks, a reduction in the amount of rework usually follows. Standards combined with competence are a potent combination when attempting to provide a great customer experience. The individual service provider must be properly trained in whatever tasks for which they’re held responsible. It’s been my experience that inadequate training leads to rework, which can lead to an unhappy customer. Take in home services for instance; usually the customer must be present in order to receive service. Should the customer have to request an additional service call due to the initial issue not being fully resolved or perhaps the product is not functioning properly, that means the customer must once again be available. As a service provider, it’s critical to remember to value your customer’s time. If proper training contributes to creating a great customer experience, then it’s important to make sure service providers are properly trained before providing service to customers. Rework is both expensive and a deterrent to establishing a long-term relationship with customers. When service provider training is aligned with quality standards, great customer experiences are sure to follow.

Standards Assist in Evaluating Performance – Once quality standards are properly developed and communicated, the task of evaluating performance becomes simplified. Individual service providers’ task evaluations should be objectively based upon the standards. Utilize your quality standards to assist in creating performance standards. Objective evaluations lead to better employee morale as objectivity – even when the employee’s performance falls beneath what’s required – is better than subjectivity. Employees are more likely to better receive a negative objective evaluation than a negative subjective evaluation. Employee morale is important when attempting to create great customer experiences. Happy employees who understand how they’re being evaluated assist in creating great customer experiences.

Developing quality standards can be beneficial to your organization. Under most circumstances, creating standards is not a one-day project, but one that requires patience and long-term thinking. When making the decision on whether or not to develop and implement organizational standards, remember to think about these three points: Standards Assist in Communicating the Customer Experience Goals, Standards Assist In Reducing the Need for Rework and Standards Assist In Evaluating Performance.

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