A while ago, we mapped out a customer journey for one of our clients. (We map it out on a roll of brown paper, looking at all of the touch-points that the customer has with the team, and who is involved at each point.) Their journey was about twenty-five feet of brown paper long, and so confusing that my head hurt when we’d finished.
The sales team were involved from start to finish of this journey; I’m surprised they ever had time to sell! The customer had to speak to four different people in order to do business with the team. Supporting the journey there were four teams, all over-lapping in terms of the roles they were performing, and all doing things in a very different way.
What had happened was what happens a lot in successful small businesses. Maybe it’s happening to you. They had started small; the owner and three trusted team members all of whom were very clear about their role and very focused on it. Communication was tight, everyone knew what everyone else was doing and the larger business picture. They quickly became successful and with the success came a bigger team, and an even bigger team, until very soon they were a team of thirty.
With such rapid growth ‘the way we do things around here’ had become confused, as each of the four original team members gave new people their version of what the operating processes were. Then those people trained others their way and so on until chaos reigned. As a consequence, their service and delivery times were poor, they’d lost consistency and they were losing staff almost as quickly as they could hire them.
Our job was to work with the team to unravel the Customer Journey (always easier when you’re not in the thick of it), to look for the simplest route for the customer, and the most logical way to support their journey. And then with them, to develop the ‘one right way’ to do everything. To regain consistency from the chaos and to restore the company as ‘easy to do business with’ and a great place to work.
It’s easy over time particularly when you’re growing quickly to lose the one right way and that tight system of communication. Having those things in place at the beginning of your business, having the one right way, the ‘How To’ for each task and solid lines of communication embedded in your business gives you reliable foundations for growth. And the one right way isn’t stagnant. If someone comes up with a better way of doing things or technology allows an improvement then that becomes the new one right way and gets trained in using a new How To.
Regularly reviewing your Customer Journey will ensure you’ve not added hoops for your customer to jump through as your business has evolved.
Do two things:
1. Think about your Customer Journey; view it through your Customers’ eyes through each tiny step right from:
- How many feet of brown paper will you need?
2. Take your daily routines and start to develop ‘the one right way’ (your How Tos) with your team. Start laying those solid foundations for consistency and growth.
Thanks for reading :)
Any business that wants to anticipate changing circumstances and act with agility needs high-performing, multi-skilled teams. If you consider that, ‘the only constant is change’ then seamless adaptability is key if you’re going to meet challenges head on and continue to give customers the consistency they crave.
Any training that takes place in an organisation has one purpose and that is to take the business forward. Training will mainly be needed:
The question then is ‘how should this training be delivered?’ Should it be focussed on individual team members or on the team as a whole? In my view the nature of the training need will determine the choice of training vehicle. It will usually be a blend of both.
Training the individual
If you have ‘one right way’ to do every task in your business and that one right way is written down (or videoed) as a step by step guide, it provides a solid platform where people can be trained on a variety of tasks. This ability to quickly change between tasks means the business continues without hitch when hit by the unexpected. It runs in a spirit of co-operation to get the job done.
This sort of training will usually be carried out in the workplace on a one-to one-basis and has several benefits:
Training the whole team including their manager has many benefits. As well as the direct benefit of the subject matter (which should be relevant to all and business focussed) there are many indirect benefits:
This is equally important if not more-so for the management team. Training the management team as one unit:
Cross team training is not always used by those larger organisations who like healthy competition between their teams. Keeping small teams in tight units and training them together can build really strong bonds which can have advantages. But personally I prefer co-operation. The downside of the tight knit team comes if it loses sight of being first and foremost part of the business.
If everyone wants what’s best for the business and everyone’s job is customer service then working together in a spirit of co-operation is the way forward. If you want flexible teams with people switching to where they’re needed then you cannot have people protecting their kingdoms. Training as a team, as one business can benefit that culture of learning and co-operation and lead to success.
Do one thing: re-visit your training plan and check:
(Don’t have a training plan? Then take a look at your team and routine tasks; do you have enough people with the skills for an agile business?)
Thanks for reading :)
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."
The other day I answered a query someone had about where they could get help to implement ‘Investors in People’. I started by asking what it was they wanted to achieve? Which got me thinking about learning.
It’s said that some firms give new employees brief training on how to do the job and then that’s it. Some invest in things like team building exercises or NLP because it’s the done thing or they want to be seen to be doing something. There’s probably benefit in both these things but training and development shouldn’t be a random add on to the business it should be what drives individual and team growth to enable business growth.
The only factor by which you can judge the effectiveness of training and development is by improved business results. Yes, there can be indirect measures like better attendance and time-keeping, a better atmosphere in the office, less time spent supervising or reworking but these are not ends in themselves. All development should be positively affecting the bottom line including Customer satisfaction.
Some training has to be in sheep dip/ classroom style and may have to be outsourced but you can facilitate learning everyday on the job:
Training and development in whatever form it takes should always be about improving results. Sometimes you can see an immediate effect; sometimes it will take a while but you’ll see improvements over a period of time. Bear in mind that to judge improvements you need to know where you started from, like getting on the scales before you try to lose weight! So know your critical numbers before you start.
Do one thing: establish your critical business numbers and make a start.
Thanks for reading :)
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)