In previous articles I have mentioned how important process is to hold together a vision and a brand message. However, I wanted to make a point that sometimes, there can be too much process implemented, which can have an adverse effect on your ability to serve your customers. I use the word serve your customers for a reason. We must always remember that our primary function is to serve our customers. If that message gets lost then it is a downhill ride to the unemployment line.
In today’s troubling economic environment it is easy to get lost in implementing processes to help with daily functions, such as cost captures, timekeeping, collections, and other parts of our business that effect the bottom line. However, the question must be asked before implementing any new process, is the cost of this process outweighed by the benefit? I have seen too many examples over the years of processes that have been put into place with little to no benefit to the whole organization. To implement a new process and capture information that has little to no value, is really just inflating your overhead. What I mean by that is you must remember that for every process that you implement, you will need the following support to ensure you are capturing the proper data. First, you will have materials, additional hours, and indirect unseen costs (office space, electric, coffee, cleaning services, etc…) to document this new process and enter the information required. Second, you will need space to collect all the new information and documentation. Third, someone will need to analyze this information and put it together in some kind of format that shows the gain/loss/target, etc... Finally, you will need to review this information with your team and figure out how to achieve the goals and/or target you want to meet. All of this costs time and money!
Now don’t, get me wrong…processes will help you evaluate, adjust, and implement change. The metrics you receive in return may help your team grow and improve, but will the results be worth the price tag? Also, will it interfere with your primary function of serving the customer? I have seen several cases where too much process gets in the way of a company’s purpose to serve the customer.
So, after costs vs. benefit, the second thing you need to evaluate is that your processes won’t get in the way of serving your customer. I have always told my team members that a service group must operate at the speed of light. In order to set ourselves apart from the competition we have to be quicker, safer, and smarter. We have to be able to respond and resolve our customer’s problems in a more efficient way than our competitors, and we have to make it as simple as possible for them find and use our services. With that said, any process that you want to set in place needs to stay invisible to the customer. You cannot afford to have any processes slow down your ability to respond to your customers needs.
In the end it is all about serving the customer. You have to make your customer feel special. They should feel like they are your only customer. Once more, you should make it easier for them to do business with your company than any other company. That is a competitive edge that will win market share every time. It’s all about added value. While processes are nice and can help your structure, you don’t want to bog down your operation with red tape. If you are in the service industry you have to be able to move fast, respond quickly, and jump into action when your customers need you. If you have processes that impede your ability to respond quickly, then you may need to reevaluate those processes and find a better way that will not affect the customer. You must never lose sight that we exist to serve our customers and without them, we have no purpose!