The New Year has begun and it is time to look at how we can add value to our Customers and save costs. We can do this by looking at our business processes.
In times of economic downturn business owners and managers need to look at how they currently run their business and ultimately this requires examining existing processes and procedures. It is important to identify where your business adds value to your customers whilst removing any inefficiencies such as:
- unnecessary waiting times
- non value activities
It is documented that in boom times no proper processes are created. They seem to grow organically, with it inefficiencies and possibly increased head count. That’s because demand for products and services becomes so high there is no need and no time to create processes and procedures. However this leads to a state where everyone is working in silo, only looking after their own turf! In addition each team member offers a different service to the customer so there is no service consistency.
When the economy slows down having no processes and increased headcount can become a financial drain on the business and many businesses find themselves in this situation today.
“As Is” Process Analysis
Owners should not panic and make snap decisions but make a plan to review all its processes. Start off by making a prioritised list of all processes. This is called “As Is” analysis i.e. reviewing the current state of business processes.
Therefore the best approach once the top priority processes are identified is to get to work on reviewing each process one by one. A way to review processes is to map them out using Process Modelling Tool for e.g. Microsoft Visio. Or at a more basic level just begin by drawing the process on paper and understanding the main players in each process, internal and external.
Once a process is mapped out it, it will be easy to identify any non value adding activities, unnecessary handoffs between people/departments and redundant waiting times for the customer. At this stage you will also identify “Quick Wins” – changes that can be implemented immediately and save the business money and time.
Moreover other ideas will start to emerge. I always recommend listing these new ideas on an “Ideas Register” this way you can revert back to these ideas once you begin designing the new process i.e. the “To Be Process Analysis”.
“To Be” Process Analysis & IT
The “To Be” processes can be created once you understand where the “As Is” is lacking. The “To Be” process analysis requires brainstorming, benchmarking and constant referral back to the “As Is” to get the new process correct.
The “To Be” process can be re-designed with the help of Information Technology. For example we’ve redesigned the New Business Department for one of our clients by creating a tailored New Business System. Not only did this speed up the way each account manager worked, it also allowed management real time information on the status of New Business accounts.
Overall in one report Management could ascertain viability of the department, the performance of each sector and the overall returns it was making on its marketing campaigns.
In addition our client’s customers were dealt with more efficiently and the conversion rate increased as a result.
The People Element
One caveat to consider is what’s termed “the people element”of any Business Process Improvement Project; what writers on this subject have commented “Ignore them at your peril”. It’s important to involve team members from the beginning and realise that this is a change project too and it will affect them. Getting them on side asap is the key to a successful business process improvement project.
Outlining a communications plan, roll out strategy and training plan are all important aspects of the people element of a BPI project.
Business Process Improvement can save your business money and ultimately create value for the Customer by placing them at the heart of your business processes. It’s important to consider the benefits of IT and how it can play a vital role. It may require an investment but the returns can be realised very quickly and ultimately make your business more competitive.
Starting such an initiative may seem like a lot of hard work and hassle but it doesn’t have to be, sitting back and not doing anything will not benefit anyone. Critical success factors include:
- having the right approach,
- management’s full backing,
- a communication plan and
- experienced consultant
At eNova we can advise you on how to start such a project and help you with implementation if desired.
There is no better time to start than now!
To find out more information on this topic contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org
For confidentiality reasons we’re unable to show you a previous clients Business Process Improvement Project but we can show you an example of one we have created for illustration purposes see Mobile 123 As Is Process Analysis Example.
Lisa Kearney has studied Business Process Redesign at UCD Smurfit Business School while obtaining her Masters in Management Consultancy
Filed under: As Is Analysis, Benefits of Information Technology, Booming Economy, Business Process Improvement, Business Process Modelling, Business Process Redesign, Business Software, Customer Centric, Customer Service Strategy, Downturn Economy, Management Consultancy, Marketing, Microsoft Visio, Remarkable Difference, To Be Analysis | 1 Comment
If you want to stand out from your competitor then this article is for you, read on!
Ask Fundamental questions?
Remember in my article on Permission Marketing I talked about actually drawing your customer and knowing what they potentially look like! Funny perhaps? Well in a way you need to go back to this – what I mean is you need to drill down and be very specific about your business – not always an easy task but extremely important and necessary.
Let’s start at the beginning
Question 1 - what is your business what does it offer, in terms of products and services, write it down?
Question 2 - who are your target sectors…? Create your target list.
Question 3 – in your target sectors, which are the main groups/associations in this area, can I learn anything from them -research them as best you can. See if you can partner with any of them (pick one at a time), so you can attend their AGM’s, Seminars to showcase your products and services.
Question 4 - who are your competitors in this target sector, and what do they offer? Now ask yourself what do you offer that they don’t and is it something that’s a big difference? Sometimes nothing major will stand out, you need to pick something that’s not easy to copy and it would require a competitor a longer time to catch up?
Once you have answered all the questions above, it gives you a clearer picture of your company and you can now start to identify a remarkable difference. Don’t get too bogged down here, some clients say well I don’t actually know or I don’t think I have any, yes you do!
One differentiating point could be your Customer Service and this will stand out to all your customers across all target sectors – why not pick this as your remarkable difference? It may sound simple but it will actually require hard work.
I don’t know about you but not many companies stick out in my mind for customer service (that they actually deliver on) and if you provide a service offering rather than a product, your customer service in particular should be exceptional.
Keep it Simple
Draft a system on how you will deal with your customer enquiries no matter how big or small. This should extend to how all your staff will answer the phone, deal with the client query to after sales and even customer complaints.
Once you have drafted this it’s now time your staff are trained and adopting this new way of working.
You don’t have to hire the best Customer Service Training Guru out there, (unless you’re really short on time and have bags of money) My tip read Customer Service Training for dummies (see link below)- from this I outlined my own customer service training and it can help you do the same.
Make your Customer’s aware of your Remarkable Difference
You can market your remarkable difference in this case “Best Customer Service Company” by looking to your local Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Board and entering in their Business Awards, this way your company gets lots of coverage even if you don’t win.
You may get shortlisted and this is something you can tell everyone, on your website, in your direct mail, in your newsletter to your customers, in your blog, in your social media sites, in all your marketing material, ask your local paper to run a feature on you and your company regarding this topic!
Ensure you get the most out of it, it just means putting in the initial ground work.
What customer does not want to receive exceptional customer service? There is not a lot out there and why not strive to become the best in your industry?
However one caveat – if you advertise that you offer exceptional customer service – you need to keep delivering and keep investing in this. Other benefits of delivering a great customer service offering is that over time you will begin to see a positive cultural change in your organisation too.
So let’s get started today!
For more information on this topic or help in creating your remarkable difference, please contact me now at email@example.com
Filed under: Business System, Competitor Analysis, Customer Service, Customer Service Strategy, Customer Service System, Differentiating, Marketing, Permission Marketing, Remarkable Difference | Leave a Comment