8 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Process, Increase Profits & Customer Loyalty
In order to reduce the chaos in your organization you need to know where it exists…so do you?
Within any organization there is constant movement: people come and go, management changes, ideas and work processes get updated. In addition to internal flows, external factors ‘poke’ at the organization forcing reactions that may or may not be streamlined into existing processes: technology advancements, increased customer expectations, supplier demands, market competition. Chaos is the reality of most organizations, but they don’t realize it until the bottom line suffers; that’s too late. By proactively aligning every aspect of the organization to a common goal, you will be able to streamline your process, increase profits and build customer loyalty BEFORE problems comes to an impasse. Start by detailing your existing process flow and finish by collectively ensuring your company’s success.
Here are 8 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Process, Increase Profits & Build Customer Loyalty:
1. Define Your Objective
- Create a company wide objective to reduce the number of steps taken by each departmental process.
2. Schedule An Offsite Meeting
- Invite department heads plus at least two individuals from each department who are able to explain the detailed activities within their area.
- Choose a location that has extensive whiteboards to map out process flows.
- Assign a non-partial facilitator to direct the meeting in order to avoid conflict.
- Choose a facility large enough to accommodate the full group, plus break out sessions.
- Plan a full day for this activity.
3. Interview Your Customers
- Choose your top customers, plus a random sampling of smaller ones for your survey sample. 5-20 customers are enough depending the type of business.
- The goal is to get feedback on ease of doing business with you.
- Is our service (order process, product quality, delivery times) consistent? (3 separate questions)
- What can we do better to serve you?
- Customer interviews can be conducted in writing, on the phone or in person. It is recommended that you contact the customers in advance and get their agreement to participate. Explain that it is part of an overall effort to streamline processes and ensure an improved customer experience.
- Compile your results prior to your offsite meeting.
4. Kick Off Your Meeting
- Start it off with a presentation of the customer survey results to create a benchmark with the customer at the forefront of your discussion.
- Review your company wide objective and explain that everyone has been brought together to tackle this objective as a team.
- Have your facilitator start charting the customer experience:
- If you have multiple points of entry (phone, website, in-person), chart out the process for each one.
- Be specific…the customer calls, the call is randomly answered, order placed in computer, planning department, operations, quality, supplies, invoicing, shipping, etc.… Include every detail.
- This is an interactive dialog with the entire group.
- By having people shout out the steps, and have others document those steps, everyone will get a good idea of how things work…or don’t work.
- Be sure to discuss and document reports that are generated along the way to ensure they are part of the streamlining process.
- It is a good idea to have a second person capture all the notes/process flows on a computer so that they are not lost during the meeting.
5. Conduct Breakout Sessions For Each Department
- Send each team off into a private area along with their current process document.
- Give them 1-2 hours to define what they can do to reduce the number of steps in their process.
- They can also use this time to add more clarity to the process if necessary.
- Make sure they incorporate better ways to transition the process in and out of their department. Ensuring they don’t cut corners that impact other departments and fostering teamwork.
6. Reconvene Larger Group To Share Breakout Results
- Have each department present their new process flow.
- Get feedback from the rest of the group on any impact those changes would have.
- Compile entire process and review how many steps have been streamlined.
- Again make sure a second person is compiling the changes/notes on a computer.
7. Set Follow-Up Expectations For The Group
- Each department should have a set period of time to implement their process reductions (2 weeks – 1 month). You can utilize our Action Item Template to help manage this process.
- The department heads should present their results in a smaller management level meeting at the end of that one-month period.
- Any additional changes or time necessary to make modifications should be reviewed at that time.
8. Share Results Internally & Externally
- Everyone who participated in the Offsite meeting should receive a new process flow document and overview of the improvements that have been made throughout the company.
- The company executive or management team should write a letter thanking customers for their candid feedback. It should outline improvements that have been made due to the exercise, as well as a renewed commitment to continuous improvement.
Here is what you get from this exercise:
- Your entire staff develops a well-rounded understanding of their impact on the big picture.
- Employees will be more supportive and less likely to hold up the process.
- Repetitive, or non-productive activities will be eliminated from your process flow, allowing for a faster and more consistent customer experience.
- You are branding yourself to your key customers as a proactive and service oriented partner. While the improved experience will impact all customers, current and future.
- You are instilling a continuous improvement mindset in your organization and within your management team.
- You set your benchmark for improvement. Each year you can conduct the same exercise, along with other initiatives. As well as incorporating efficiency concepts into your budget/investment planning process.
- You are improving overall communication and teamwork across your company.
Profitability hides in processes, no matter how you look at it. Once you lead your employees to focus on your process, (instead of random cost cutting) you create a win/win for everyone…. including your customer.
Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of ManagingAmericans.com
Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.
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