Eliminate the Impediments!
Graham Archer takes pen to paper and suggests that too often we put impediments in the way of doing good business. “We need to step outside the confines of our office and look upon our operations through the eyes of a customer,” he maintains.
I know you’re going to think that I’m a bit cheeky…that I’m sticking my nose into something that doesn’t concern me…that I should concentrate on my job while you get ahead with the challenge of ‘thinking outside the box’.
I would do, except that when you interviewed me you said that you were looking for a go-ahead type, one who wouldn’t just focus on the tasks you gave me but who would see ‘the broader picture’ and come up with ideas that would enhance the business, as you said ‘going forward’.
Well, here I am…writing to you with an idea. It’s this: That you call a general meeting of staff, brief us on how things are and the goals you’ve set, invite us to come forward with ideas that we think would make our business better – and deposit them in a Suggestions Box with a notice on the front reading: Eliminating All Impediments to Business.
You see, boss, I’m a simple fellow. I believe that no business should place an impediment in the way of doing business. Yet, you’d be surprised how many do!
Take our two German discounters with the four-letter names. How often have we wandered into one of their stores only to trip across something we thought we needed? Many times. Perhaps it was a tool of some kind…a bottle of wine…an item of stationery. What difference? You take the item in your hand and then you look towards the checkout where you see only one, maybe two attendants, struggling to process queues of shoppers laying in provisions for a war that never comes. Then you think: why don’t they provide a checkout for shoppers like me…customers with one or two items? But they don’t. So you place the item back on its shelf and leave – without spending any money in their store!
By not having a quick checkout system, they have placed an Impediment to Business in your path.
But it could be the same with us. We need to step outside the confines of our office and look upon our operations through the eyes of a customer.
I can see many ways in which we could be better. For example, do we always respond to enquiries as though it was we ourselves who had made the enquiry? In short, do we treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated? Do we think of customers only as ships that pass in the night?
Are our communications programmes all that they could be? Are we slow to inform customers when a replacement model is on the way or alert them to a technical development coming down the tracks? Are there any extra service offerings that we could provide that would give us a competitive edge?
How about a switchboard operator, for example…one who would answer telephone calls with a human voice? Some companies still use telephonists – because they know that those who opt for the electronic press button method will never hear again from those customers who hang up in frustration and go elsewhere.
Is our speed of response as fast as it could be? Are our service engineers geared to get things up and running as quickly as our customers would like? And what about our charging methods, our invoicing and our cash collection – are there things that we could do to improve those situations also? Beyond our walls, are we to the forefront in industry affairs and in contributing to its growth and prosperity through participation on committees and suchlike?
The world in which we operate is a wide and wonderful place. How we operate within it is a matter for us, alone. Just as growth is about to raise its head, could this be the time to give our business the root-‘n’-branch treatment?
Your staff is bursting with ideas, Boss. In many ways, we know best how our company should work. Please let us make our contribution.
Your Caring Employee
P.S. Why not start with a ‘Let’s Tidy Up The Yard’ day?