In the interest of giving both sides of customer service – the good and the not so good equal representation, this week I share a real experience of an organization who really GETS IT! Last week we looked at when outsourcing can impact brand/image of your business in the marketplace. This week let’s look at getting it right starting with the core purpose of the business.
If you have ever visited a Chick-Fil-A fast food restaurant then you might already appreciate the nature of this organization. They not only get the business they are in but more importantly is their customers get what business they are in and it drives their decision making and direction of the company results. I framed them in the fast food restaurant business because from a SIC code definition that is the category they are forced into. They are far more than fast food. If you want to know more then visit one in the near future or go to their website and look around at what makes them tick.
My purpose for drawing attention to them is not to bolster my stock portfolio. I don’t own stock in their business so we are completely upfront about these insights. I do own stock in the way they come to market and invest in their team of people and keeping their customers and the experience they walk away with top of mind. In a segment of the business marketplace that has such giants as McDonalds, Burger King, KFC etc. Chick-Fil-A has a formula that is not just working it is expanding.
Customers site such things as the environment – physical and energy is what keeps them coming back. Yes the food is of high quality, but it is the people in the locations that upgrade the customers experience. For example, I was visiting another city for work and stopped into one of their restaurants for a brief bite to eat. It was a diner rush hour with the drive thru line full and many patrons in line for ordering and dining at the location. Within a few seconds I was welcomed, greeted and order being taken by the large staff of order takers. Their interaction was genuine and full of desire to make my order let alone my evening complete. Once my order was taken, I was given a deliver cone where my meal would be delivered directly to my table once ready. Moments later my meal arrived with the smile of my server beaming and expressing non-verbally their desire to serve my meal. They were very proud of the meal, the delivery and how I was doing. Shortly thereafter, another well trained staff asked how everything was tasting and asked about a refill for my beverage.
How else was I to feel about all this attention. I began to look around and I was not unique to this level of customer experience. Everyone form seniors to young families were all getting this energy. The energy was not fictitious. It was real and yes you could cut it with a knife it was that thick. Not over pretentious just down home and real. Doing what I do for a living I knew that this level of service only comes when the leadership invests in hiring right and training right.
This week, ask yourself about your business and what it is doing right when hiring and then training each person to deliver on your organization’s customer experience promise.
It starts with a “Promise” and the intent to be authentic to your “Promise.”
Interested in moving to a “Promise Culture” at your organization? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida. Where a “Promise” means something.
Read any recent book or magazine article and you will find the author promoting the concept of holding your business to its core strengths and outsourcing the things that are not directly related to that focus. I too agree with the concept of outsourcing functions in your business for some strategic and tactical reasons. But outsourcing is not a resolution of all your business needs.
Let’s explore through a sample situation. Names and identities will remain undefined so put what ever organization name or department you would like to fill in the blanks with for this exercise. Maybe you might choose to plug in your own business to the example.
I recently had to resolve a vehicle violation for a transponder (the device which records toll entry and exit points on such highways throughout the states) that did not pick up a toll point. It appeared that the vehicle used the toll road with out paying the fees thus resulting in a citation/fine for its use. The normal toll is about $1.00 and the citation fine was for $26.00. Nice profit margin on that piece of business. Back to the example – the toll authority is in the business of providing quality road travel experiences by collecting fees for road usage. Those revenues are in turn used for maintenace and improvements to the toll road system. Let’s for the sake of discussion agree that is their core business focus. – Quality road and collection of offsetting fees.
This road authority outsources the paving and resurfacing of the actual roads as that is not their core expertise. They are not engineers nor have the investment in large renovation equipment. They do have maintenace level support fleet etc. The road authority also outsources some portions of their customer support. The initial traveler support for acquiring transponders, having money available for tolls and other vehicle related connections are handled directly by the road/toll authority directly. The part they outsourced is the citation/violation collection and resolution portion of their customer support. They apparently do not see this as part of their core customer support program.
In my attempt to resolve the issue with the toll authority, I was directed to a department specific to handling this matter. My original expectations were high in that I would be speaking with the folks who will dig into this and understand it was a transponder issue and remove the citation fines. To save you time and boring details, it took over 4+ hours of calls and on hold waiting for supervision support to make progress. I had to contact three different toll authorities and get them talking. Oddly enough, two of them who were the direct customer support teams for two of the authorities talked and all agreed to the resolution. I was to pay the cost of the toll $1.00 and the citation should be removed. Now enter the outsourced service from one of the toll authorities. After I provided the requested document and I verified with their service rep what was needed, I only received a letter in return indicating it did not meet with their requirements. I called and basically they said they can’t do anything unless I send them the document which meets their specific criterion.
At this point I called the direct customer support service entities and they all agreed it should be a nonissue. The third party was so rigid in their actions with me that they would not even move the situation to a supervisor nor reach out to the authority who employs them to handle these citation situations. This is when I engaged supervision again at one of the toll authorities and explained the nature of the experience. They were very understanding and apologized for the way the mater was handled.
This week take a look at the outsourcing your business is using or considering using. It might very well be a valuable choice to have a third party do a non-core competency of your organization. If you go in that direction, you need to make sure you have in place the necessary process for taking care of your customer. At the end of the day, the customer is yours to take care of. It is your brand reputation at stake. The third party simply turns off their phones and closes up shop if no one uses their service. If they put your reputation at risk then is that a good use of outsourcing?
JKL Associates understands both the brand and image implication and systems efficiency aspects of outsourcing so give us a call at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida. It is time you moved to a higher level of strategy execution.
By definition – Accountability is the act of being accountable. Which by extension, being accountable is the person or organization being held to standards of expectations which are required or expected to guide actions, behaviors, decision, the steps taken to execute for the attainment of a given deliverable or outcome.
Sounds fairly straight forward for both the business and personal transaction we experience each and every day. But is it that simple?
For some accountability is a way of conducting each and everything they do. They seek out the defined expectations and then conduct themselves to those standards. Their desire is to complete the results in a proper way without issue or concern. For others their tendency is to avoid learning or understanding the expectations and then go about their business from their own perspective. If the outcome is different than what was expected then they simply ask for forgiveness and plan to do better in the future.
Depending on the situation, both can be a benefit and both can cause challenges. For example, the person who seeks out the details and does not move forward with getting to productive action may delay the timeframe of delivery. They become a captive of being overly directed by doing it right the first time and never getting to the state of moving forward in a timely fashion into action. On the other hand, the person who simply jumps into action without regard for the details of the deliverable can take the project at hand into a direction which will not deliver the results needed and potentially have cost over runs.
Thus it is imperative on leadership to define well articulated and understood expectations of process and procedure for taking actions, behaving and executing decisions especially when done on behalf of the business which employs them. I’m not necessarily indicating you need long and lengthy standard operating procedures for each and every element of your business. Some businesses do need this level of detail while others may be as successful with a more “Cliff Notes” version of the procedures to operate the business.
More importantly is that you have an overall framework for your business which everyone can embrace, understand and use as the guidance system for each and every action, behavior and decision they make on behalf of the organization. This framework consists of a “Purpose” statement or why the entity exists or it can be as narrow by each department etc. Core values are next – what are the 3 to 6 key elements which each and every person MUST know and have tangible understanding. In alignment with the Core Values are the supporting principles or statements which govern the how, what, when, where, why, how come etc. of each action taken by employees when in the workplace setting. For example, at JKL Associates one of our Core Values is Accountability. – our principle is that we will hold ourselves to the highest standards while delivering our goods and services to our clients. This permeates each and every action we have with every relationship we have – our clients, our vendors etc.
By having an overarching framework for the business, the individual processes and procedures which are executed each day are guided by the framework. This reduces the level of step by step details and allows for each individual’s talents to be worked into the success of the business as long as they align to the overall framework of Purpose, Core Values and Principle statements.
This week take a look at the results and outcomes of your business. Are they aligned with customer/client satisfaction? Are you dealing with lots of variance because of an absence of guidance from processes or procedures? Do you have a framework by which each and every action, behavior and decision is guided to best possible results consistently?
If you are challenged with any of those answers, then give a call to JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida. We are ready to assist in your success.
There is lots of conversation about compensations, wages, getting paid more, getting paid for a persons worth etc. The conversation is healthy as long as it considers and incorporates all of the factors and the actual contribution value the role contributes to the overall result and outcomes of the organization.
Some roles appear to be more straight forward to evaluate direct contribution to an organizations results. For example, a sales person whose sole role and reason for being in the organization is to close sales of the products and services to other businesses or consumers who are in need/want of the businesses product and services. When a sale is transacted then the sales person should be rewarded for their part in the process. This is where the challenge can start with this type of role. Depending on the nature of the product or service, some sales organizations not only have sales people but they also have sales support staff. People who directly contribute to the sales such as systems engineers but they are not always directly working the dynamics of the sale. They are more focused on translating the sales requirements into solutions to provide a given result to the customer. Without quality systems engineering, the sales person is not as likely to close sales for the company. It gets more complicated from there. Once the sale is closed and moved into implementation/delivery, the operations side of the house must live up to the design and commitments of the sales proposal. When all of the upfront proposal and contract work is done to the highest of quality then the delivery should follow suit. If there are any vague aspects of the deliverables then problems begin to work their way into the end result. These challenges erode the profit in the project and thus the company bears the burden of ultimately delivering to the customer a satisfactory result sometimes at the cost of the profit in the original proposal.
I worked us through this scenario so that when each member of the sales process is considered, it requires that each person take accountability for their portion of the sale so the end customer gets what they want and the business makes a profit doing the business transaction. If at any point during this chain of events a communincation breakdown takes place, a missing piece of information is not discovered, a vendor product under performs etc. then the whole project gets shaken up and places profitability at risk. Oddly enough, the risk on the job is all too often only owned by the business owner or stockholders, not the employees directly. The employees still want their wages and at this time in our history, they want more for same contribution or in some cases less contribution. The key here is that individual contribution is being accounted for in the expectations of the role. The challenge today is the confusion of worth, contribution and compensation. This presents itself in the form of less contribution related to the actions taken or not taken by staff. The actuality is that some portion of the staff wants the role by definition. They want the responsibility and the title. They do not always want or hold themselves to the accountability which comes along with the role.
I will clarify here that compensation comes in more than one form. In some cases total contribution is not always just dollars and cents. Sometimes it comes in the form of other benefits such as paid time off (PTO), medical benefits etc. All of these other compensation pieces must still get paid out of the profit of the business. The profits of the business go up when each and every role in the organization delivers on the expectations of the role and are accountable to those expectations.
This week take a look at you role structures, your expectations and accountability framework for those roles and your overall compensation package to your staff for those roles. Is the accountability structure such that it is rewarding correctly and appropriately for each role in the chain of success? Do you and your staff members understand the total value of compensation each receives for being accountable to thier contribution to the success of the business? What happens when accountability, responsibility and expectations are not met?
Need to have a third party look at your accountability structure and give you some true and authentic feedback?
Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida to get the conversation started.
First I need to state that there is a time and a place for contemplation. Unfortunately it is not always in the business setting. Some of us, by our nature are go getters while still others are far more comfortable being lead or playing supporting roles. So let’s concede that action can sometimes put an inordinate amount of stress on some people in the business setting or even the home setting. All that being said, stuff just does not get done by thinking about it.
This time of year business leaders are in thought, contemplating future strategies for the business. This is a great investment of time to step back away from the daily hustle and bustle of the business and look at what is working and what needs to be improved. From this time looking and listening to the business noise, leaders can begin to sort through the various aspects of the business and start to place order into the next phase of development and growth of the business.
The key here is to make a defined transition from thinking and re-thinking and thinking it over and over again and moving into action. By example, we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of landing man on the moon and returning them safely back to earth. (Maybe you are one of the believers that it never happened, but one visit to Cape Kennedy or the Houston Space Center might give you a different perspective. If it was make believe then wow, nice job on setting up the supporting cast of characters and environments.) Back to the anniversary, Then President Kennedy made a challenge – to achieve this feat by the end of the decade. It had never been done. We did not even know all the components to get it done. There were some unproven ideas and many more ideas which were proven not to work. The key was that if it was to happen in less than 10 years it was not just about brain power to think and contemplate but to take action and discover what worked and what did not work.
This is even more true today in your business. The market place is moving rapidly in one direction or another. Building strategies and the associated plans need to be done but only for a more narrow window of time say 12 – 36 months tops. Once the direction is defined then it is impetrative to begin executing steps – taking action in that direction. As you take steps, you must measure the results and identify if it is in alignment with the expected outcomes. If not, then re-plan to get back on track. If the outcomes are tracking to your expectations then keep moving forward and make subtle adjustments if needed to improve upon what you learn as you go.
Last week we referenced the automotive industry and the impact the assembly line had on results and outcomes not just for the business but it reduced the cost of the vehicle to the point where the average person could participate in owning such a vehicle. Much like that innovation, the automotive and aerospace industries capitalized on “Just in Time” materials delivery allowing for the distribution of manufacturing to be spread out across the nation while allowing centralized assembly and final control in a single location. This process enable action to take place in a wider reaching area putting many more resources into action with a common focus on the end prize.
This week as you look at your business and contemplate what is going well and what might need tweaking in 2020, make sure you incorporate a defined timeframe of moving to action and the measurement points to determine if the action steps you are taking are delivering on the results you have in mind.
Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida to start the conversation about moving from contemplation to action.
To be truly outstanding in an area of excellence you must dominate that area. When you hear this you might think of large corporations like Walmart leading the price category or Mercedes leading the quality category. The same is also true for smaller businesses. You can’t be the absolute best in multiple categories. You must have great focus and intent in multiple categories but you can only have one paramount area of excellence which all other aspects of your business play in to and out of.
So which area of excellence does your company excel at – Price, Quality, Time? By identifying your key area of excellence you must now separate yourself from the others in the market space. Being a me too business gets you some business but by being the leader in the business segment not only do customers flock your way but so does a universe of other opportunities.
To be the leader you must offer something which differentiates you from other options in the same or similar market place. In today’s market place there are many options out there so you must be specific. Let’s use an example of a service company who delivers some in location service. Many service companies try to be great on taking care of the customer. Many promise a time at which their technician will arrive at the location. most of them provide windows of time – i.e. between 9:00am and 5:00pm or some have narrower time slots like between 2:00pm and 5:00pm in the afternoon. Yes, they allow you to pick which window but you are now tied to your location during that window. Some enhance the service by calling you when the technician is in route so your pain of waiting now has a more specific tolerance level. All of these are done with the greatest level of intention to take care of the customer, but it still places the burden on the customer to wait at the location until the service person actually arrives. The longer the window the greater the aggravation.
Time to innovate on this area of excellence. Let’s say you have decided that time is the key area to separate your business from the next. Being able to offer your target audience (your best paying customers) a service on demand level of service. You might first need to narrow in on what services you can actually deliver in this new time demand. Maybe it is only on select services but the marketplace has a bounty of need for that specialty. The volume you generate offsets the other business actions which you offered. Possibly they are not as needed or maybe not something you do as well. As you can see, being selective, narrow and focused requires you to make deliberate intention based decisions. You just cannot be a jack of all trades and be a master of all of them.
So innovation comes in different forms. To often business leaders look at innovation strictly through the lens of some new product or new technique. The reality is that there are numerous innovations to be crafted on the how it is to be accomplished rather than what is used to get it done. If you desire to be an innovator in a segment then you must look at the same problem using the same set of restrictions from very different angles and perspectives. You may need mobile offices in specific geographies in order to have the response level being targeted. You might need a different type of technician who can be more agile and flexible to these new demands rather than having to do their role the same what all the prior companies have done it.
Differentiation through innovation is not for everyone. Especially those who stick primarily with traditional approaches. Yes they have been proven to work, but eventually they will be replaced with a better idea. The introduction of the mass assembly line shook up the automotive industry 100 years ago and put all kind of support businesses out of business. The question for you is not if, but when will the absence of innovation in your industry place your business asset at risk?
Wondering about focusing your business on something innovative? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 in Michigan or (407) 984-7246 in Florida.
As we celebrate the Labor Day weekend, let’s take a few moments during our backyard feasts, our beachfront bonfires, our lazy days floating down the river to remember and celebrate the fruits of our labors. As humans, at our core, we desire lots of things. We desire physical things. We desire love, acknowledgment and being relevant. These desires are most fulfilling when we directly touch and use our own energy to realize these outcomes. When these desires are provided to us without participating and laboring for their success the reward is diminished, and we give up part of ourselves. The part which we can take most pride in and that is self-growth and accomplishment.
Enjoy your holiday weekend and never take without giving first.
As sound business leaders we regularly review our financial documents – Income statement, Profit and Loss statement etc. We might look at our bank statements online. We follow up on accounts receivables and payables. All good practices to keep the business in best financial status.
The question is – are you measuring and managing the slow, small leaks of soft hidden dollars tricking out the bottom of your business?
As a business leader you have the opportunity to pay utility bills for the operation of your business. It is the every month expense that just gets paid. Maybe you look at the trend of expenses for select utilities like electric or water. Most of the time it just gets paid.
I’m not suggesting that you do a detailed review of your utility bills but I’m using this as the basis of how a business can inadvertently drain real dollars out of the business by simply not paying attention to trends of expenses.
Let’s look at water for example. At a particular property the regular water bill suddenly tripled. The mental alarms went off and required investigation. Was there an underground broken pipe? Was someone stealing water after hours? What was causing this sudden and significant increase in water consumption. After looking at all the obviously possible causes, we asked the city to send out one of their public works people to extend the investigation. When the gentlemen arrived, he pulled out a small gauge with what looked like a variety of pin holes in it from small to increasing in size to about the dimensions of a pencil. He said that if your toilets run, if your sinks drips, if your production equipment leaks water all over the floor overnight even though it is not being used – all of these are consumption and it does not take much to cause a large jump in usage. He pointed to the small hole about the size of a pencil lead and said a faucet with this tiny amount of water dripping every few seconds could over the course of time triple your water bill. After he left, we found the leaky faucets and running toilets and they were promptly fixed.
This analogy of the dripping faucet is what happens in lots of business with many other areas in their business. Let’s look at a service company who sends technicians out into the field to solve customer issues. Many organizations work on a time and material basis so in theory each unit of time the tech is on location they bill for to the customer. This protects the company from getting into projects that take more than the originally estimated time. It does not protect the customers and after too many hours of resolution and expenses, the customer seeks a new provider. Your business loses future business which now has to be replaced with a new account etc. Some organizations use flat rate pricing models, so customers have a better understanding of the expense going in and the company shares in the performance of the project based on their typical service engagements. The better the company is at setting up these flat rate models based on their capability to perform the better the whole system can work. The challenge is that performance times are based on many variables and if your technicians are new or unfamiliar with the work being done then time over runs take place and the company now pays those expenses. The technician still gets their hourly wage, but the company absorbs the cost overrun which in turn lower profits.
This absence of managing talent, hours and overall performance is like the dripping faucet. We don’t directly see dollars washing their way down the drain but at the end of a cycle of time, money is drained out of the profits and the only one paying the bill is the company.
Is your company dripping away profits? Call JKL Associates a call at (313) 527-7945 or (407)984-7246 and let’s get that profit drip fixed.
I hope you had some time to sense your emotions that were taking place in your world over the past week. There is still time to get in on the no charge/no commitment TriMetrix EQ assessment insights report. A simple email to YourGuide@PromiseCulture.com requesting an assessment will get you hooked up with a significant value report to assist you in How you go about things, What drives you to do things and the Means by which you acknowledge and manage your emotions for better outcomes.
So last week we had you look at your awareness of your emotions in the workplace and social life. For many of us this whole emotion thing is foreign. Like traveling to a country where no one speaks your language, yet you still need to navigate to a specific end location or results. As you don’t speak the language, don’t live in that part of the world (your emotions world) you don’t even know how to communicate with your own emotions. I will say this, the younger you are or the older and more wisdom has set in, the slightly easier this is to engage with your emotions. This, from my perspective, is partly due to past practices of up bringing and more so today the emergence of allowing emotions to be a useful and important part of life itself.
You may recall my example from last week about my employee who lost a loved one and at the time I totally botched up how that situation should have been handled. (I’m actually very thankful that event took place because it has taught me many extremely important lessons which I share here so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.) That event needs to be broken down into some parts so we can all become better at understanding the value, importance and use of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace and in everyday situations.
The first part we touched on last week was becoming and being present and aware of the emotions of the situations. Being aware of your emotions and being aware of the social or other’s emotions. This takes some practice to get in communincation with our own emotions because we don’t or have not learned the language of emotions.
The second part is when we take our more natural action-based effort to manage, navigate or regulate our understanding of our emotions at a given point in time. We either act or not act so that our emotional intelligence can be a more contributive part of the best outcome rather than ignoring them.
The combination of awareness (you and other’s emotions) and the regulation (action taken or withheld) will, when orchestrated, have an enormous positive impact on the event outcome, the people involved and how your internal self resonates with the use of this newfound intelligence.
Another key in this emotional intelligence is the level or degree to which you are motivated to be aware and then to regulate your knowledge to the best results. Some of you may in fact have a real strong awareness of the emotions of yourself and others but elect to suppress the use of that information or regulate it out of the situation. Others might not be so in communication with their and other’s emotions but have a very high ability to regulate even the smallest of insights to an effective outcome. Your internal motivation and what is driving your core plays into whether you will use your newfound intelligence or simply sweep it under the rug.
Emotional intelligence is part of your daily business. Call JKL Associates a call at (313) 527-7945 or (407)984-7246 to make sure you are aware of the impact it is truly having.