All too often when things go astray with Customer service it is because businesses don’t have their processes buttoned up.
Process is like air – you don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it.
I can remember working in a business that had a determined batch of employees and a talented group of managers; however, we struggled mightily to get the daily execution right. The problem was that we lacked process and focus – and that is not a recipe for excellence. We needed to get that magical mojo of training, procedures, and productivity to drive home the overall Guest experience.
If you are hearing your Customers exclaim the following you may have an issue:
No one knows what is going on!
Who is in charge around here?
Your business is so inconsistent!
Why doesn’t anyone know the answer?
Why is it taking so long?
But don’t panic and don’t give up. Although it isn’t glamorous, the idea of process can set you and your teams free (as well as increase the likelihood of exceptional Customer experiences). You just have to know where to start, what to do, and how to sustain the change.
LEARN FROM MISTAKES: The idea that you are going to be perfect from day one is a great goal – and you should absolutely ask your team to reach for the heavens here. But the reality is that you are likely going to make mistakes, especially if you are starting a new business or expanding your current offerings. This could also happen if you are embarking on a change effort that might include an overall improvement in service or change in organizational direction. There isn’t a major company out there that hasn’t made a mistake while trying to make a change. If you’ve seen the hiccups Burger King is experiencing because of the Halloween Whopper’s ® black bun, you can see that even successful businesses make mistakes. BK is not about to crumble, but they will certainly take stock and seek to improve. So must we as we make mistakes – don’t crumble, but use mistakes as springboards to get better. You can’t repeat mistakes over and over, but you aren’t going to have innovation without the occasional issue. Share the resolution organizationally so that you don’t make the same mistake again and move on.
TRAINING IS THE PROCESS DRIVER: Often you can’t have amazing process without great training. This is the primary reason why service miscues occur and why there is ambiguity in the realm of execution. Breakdowns in training leads to Associates who don’t know the answers to Customer questions and also those who don’t know how to perform their roles satisfactorily. Take the time to ensure proper training during onboarding and augment throughout the Associate lifecycle. As processes change, training must follow so that everyone feels confident with their roles and how to perform them.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ABANDON POLICIES THAT DON’T WORK, ARE OUTDATED, OR STUPID: You can’t set a process or policy and expect it to live forever. Every procedure must remain flexible and ready to change when the time is right. That doesn’t mean you should knee jerk every time you have an issue or complaint, but you have to keep your finger on the pulse of your Guests. If an initiative is reaching critical mass, then you need to change slightly ahead of the market to be sure you remain innovative. Don’t change just for the sake of it, but rather when it makes sense to do so. That also means that you can’t fall in love with processes – especially the stupid ones. It may be difficult if you work for a large organization, but sometimes you have to push the envelope a little for the sake of common sense.
MANAGE THE OVERALL GUEST FLOW: If you are to maximize Guest efficiency and overall ease of experience, you and your teams have to understand the whole flow of service. From the time a Guest enters your business until he or she leaves, how does service move? If you have lines are there issues with how Guests queue? If you operate online, is the website organized for maximum ease of use? There is only a certain amount of hassle that Customers will endure before they bail on your business – and unless you understand the total scope of service, and how Guests interact with your teams, locations, and processes, you’ll never be able to maximize their experience.
GET OUT AND WATCH WHAT IS HAPPENING: The best way to understand your business is to be out in the thick of it watching the process. When you are live and in color with your teams and Guests that allows you to manage in the moment and correct behaviors as needed. This is a prime opportunity to look at what is going well and not so well in your organization and take action. When there are struggles start by asking what process is in place to drive success – and often you’ll find there may not be one in trouble spots (or one that needs to be enhanced or changed).
These five tips are a part of an engaged management style that puts you front and center with Customers and Associates. Many place solid process in the “nice to have” category, but that is a style that will ultimately not lead to sustainable success. The better the processes in place, the more success teams will achieve. One of the hallmarks of a high performing team is amazing process that is less reliant on who is involved as it is on having a plan that makes sense.
And planning will lead to increased productivity, happier Guests, and fewer fires to put out on a daily basis.
Until next time, develop those processes that will free up more time for you to treat your Guests as cherished friends.
Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker
Check out my book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Now Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Recipe-Service-Inspire-Deliver-Customer/dp/0986391204
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