When you are in the day-to-day mither of trying to get things done in a business, it is unfortunately all too easy to be disconnected from the processes you are running through. You’re not thinking about the process as a whole, and what the overarching business objective is, because you are too busy doing it.
We always like to focus on the actual business outcomes (funny that!) that our customers can get from a comprehensive review – and where appropriate redesign/remap – of their business process. We have posted before about the broader benefits of a business process review, but we would now like to hone in how a streamlined process can bring value to arguably the most important aspect of your business: your customers.
While it is great to be able to deal with customer issues and queries in a timely and efficient manner, would it not be ideal to cut down on the number of these enquiries altogether?
You could be missing a trick – a review of your business process could bring inefficiencies to light that are having a direct (or even indirect) impact on the value the customer is getting from your business, and therefore their likelihood of becoming a recurring customer.
The missing link
Many times throughout our combined decades of focus on business process, we have seen a single point of inefficiency knock a whole process out of whack. This could be a field in ERP that needs to be filled in to arrange a delivery that the salesperson does not know exists, or a manual process which could so easily be automated but for some reason hasn’t. These seemingly minor chinks in your chain could be adding days – or in some cases weeks – to a process, meaning longer lead times and less efficient delivery to the customer. The best way to find these sticking points is to lay the process out, end-to-end, and run it through. A simple change – such as making sure your sales team are fully aware of the process, or setting up a workflow to run a report – could have a significant impact on the process, and therefore how quickly and efficiently products or services are delivered to your customers. Hopefully, it will be a relatively easy fix like one of the examples above, but if it starts getting more complex, a business process specialist can advise on the best route to redesign and streamline.
Improving the quality of your products is not only a big gain for customer service, but also an internal time-saver. Making sure faultless products come off the line at a higher percentage means less resource usage and less wastage. Which – you guessed it – all leads back to more value being passed on to the customer. ERP can help you with this to some extent – but the system needs to be backed up with a tight process to ensure absolute consistency. Reviewing a product’s journey from components to assembly/manufacture to quality control, and carefully mapping this to automations within your ERP software will help ensure that this process is followed each and every time – with less requirement for manual checks and less margin for human error. We will get into more detail on process and product quality in a later post, but for now it is important to note that improving this will help you see a leaner supply chain and deliver more value to your customers.
Documentation and awareness
Often, a big part of business process inefficiency comes down to a lack of awareness. How can each and every department and individual in your business follow a process they do not know exists? And how can they be expected to know it exists if it is not documented anywhere? Lack of awareness and documentation of business processes could lead to all manner of customer service snags. If a new service desk agent or account manager is not made aware of or pointed to a copy of the process for dealing with a complaint, it may take longer to deal with, or in some cases, might not be dealt with at all. As part of any business process review, processes should be comprehensively documented and distributed across the business. Ideally, relevant parties should receive training on processes which concern them. With everyone on the same page, you stand yourself in good stead to be able to deal with customer queries, orders or complaints much more efficiently.
If lack of internal awareness of process is one of the most common ways a customer can get a bad experience, then surely lack of communication is the most common. We are not naive – we know that every single transaction with a customer is not going to go without a hitch. But a problem which is resolved quickly, with full transparency and honesty with the customer, versus one which is dragged on for weeks, with the customer chasing for updates, are two very different things. Communication can mean the difference between a turnaround and a customer walking away from your business forever with a very bad taste in their mouth. This is why it is a very good idea to review your business process to make sure that proactive interaction and communication with the customer is baked in throughout. Whether it is something as simple as setting up automated shipping notification emails, or automated reminders for your account managers to contact customers “manually”, you can streamline your process while making sure you have touch points with the customer.
Customer service is just one area of your business a streamlined, well documented and enforced process can have an impact, but it is a significant one. Happy customers mean more business and less time spent on issues – which leads to more happy customers! If you would like to find out more about how a business process redesign could impact your business, get in touch.