Over time, what was once a simple, elegant solution can become a bloated, overstuffed monster of a process.
During this month of Back to Basics, we want to help you restore joy to your business and ease to your customer experience.
These simple steps can help you strip away the confusion and get back to the heart of why you do what you do.
Step 1: Identify Your Core Values
A common casualty of "business as usual" is the gradual loss of mission focus. That means, eventually, you stop bringing to the marketplace the very thing that sets you apart from the crowd.
Business gurus tell us to have multiple streams of income. This is brilliant advice, yet if we aren't careful, we can offer services for which we have no passion. As a result, we dread fulfilling contracts because they are outside both our wheelhouse and heart-house.
A good practice is an annual review of your company's core values and mission statement. This gives you clarity to cut out the excess and get back to the core.
Core values can change. Have yours? There's nothing wrong if it has. Verbalizing what is most important will help you stay the course for the future.
Step 2: Inspect Your Current Processes
Whether you have them written, you have processes. While you don't have to have processes written, doing so allows you to better test and improve them. It's important to review your processes regularly for effectiveness and alignment with your mission.
How many of your current processes move a project along? Is there a bottleneck? Do you know where work slows down and gets stuck? If so, it's likely this is part of the process that either needs an overhaul or elimination if it's not essential to your core values. For example, if you see the bottleneck in processes is your customer service calls are too long per customer, having a robo-customer service team might be more efficient. However, if your customers feel like the human interaction sets your company apart, removing the human element may ultimately hurt your company. Talking with the team might a training gap, but it might also reveal that even though their calls are longer, they are building brand loyalty and higher customer satisfaction.
Step 3: Identify Duplicate Systems
As mentioned in some earlier articles, duplicate activities can end up costing you more time and money than they save.
Do you really need to enter the same data in three places (i.e. CRM, accounting system, Excel spreadsheet)? Are there reports in one of those systems you haven't used in the past that could eliminate the other? Could you export/import to reduce the work? And though checks and balances are important, if you find that several people are doing the same work, albeit differently, it might be time to hit the delete key.
Step 4: Implement Rigorous Deletion
It can be intimidating to delete processes. Be warned, it is the "we've always done it this way" pit that can halt progress entirely.
This isn't the time to willy-nilly hack and slash. If you are a fan of Marie Kondo, you know she has some key guidelines. Implement elements of the KonMarie method to ensure what goes and what stays are meaningful. Here is the basic list, with a few alterations for your business environment.
Commit yourself to a streamlined business.
Imagine your ideal business.
Establish a customer experience path first.
Investigate and delete by category, not task.
Follow the right order.
Ask yourself if the system element creates cohesion between your core values and a satisfactory result for your client/customer/partner. Are you thinking of eliminating the portion of the process that allows you to more fully express your core values? If so, it need not go - it might need readjustment. Can you outsource a necessary piece of the process you don't enjoy?
Step 5: Initiate Streamlined Success
A streamlined business creates a relaxed flow for both you and your client. This enables you to serve at a deeper level and gives your customer the results they want and need.
There are likely many companies or organizations who do what you do. You don't want your difference to be a commodity choice. You don't want to find yourself in the "flavor of the day category" of fast food. Keeping a customer over the long run is more profitable to your organization than adding 5 or 10 new customers or clients per week/month.
Streamlined processes require thought and time, yet once implemented you and your organization will experience more freedom to pay attention to the core values and mission of your organization.
The goal is to pay attention to the important issues, not continually put out fires on the urgent crises. A streamlined business strategy makes sure you can do just that.
I'd like to hear from you about your favorite parts of this article. What helps you create the business you enjoy?
Waggoner Professional Services has a menu of services designed to help you do what you love, so you can leave some administration needs to others. Be sure to review our Packages page for ways we can help.