In this highly competitive and volatile marketplace, business leaders are painfully aware of the negative outcomes which can occur when operations lapse into a business as usual routine. With the pace of change today, business leaders must constantly keep a pulse on the signs that tell them it’s time to transform their business processes before process issues result in a decline in financial performance and customer satisfaction.
At The Northridge Group, we guide our clients to recognize those signals that indicate change is needed. We equip our clients with the means to monitor the right operational metrics, ensuring visibility to red flags. We then collaborate with them to successfully implement process improvements. So, how do you know when it’s time to transform your business process? There are leading indicators from your customers, operations and employees, well before problems manifest themselves in financial performance or customer loyalty. Here are three common warning signs that indicate it’s time for a hard look at your processes:
- Customer Signals. Monitoring customer contacts is a sure way to sense when their frustration is growing. Listen to the voice of your customers across all their contact channels – calls, web, chat, mobile apps, social media. Be mindful of when customers don’t find it easy to complete a transaction or when it takes more than one attempt to get the right answer. It may be time to call “time out” and assess the root cause of their dissatisfiers. This is where Customer Journey Mapping can be an invaluable exercise, allowing you to discover, from the customer’s point of view, their pain points and frustrations. Customer Journey Mapping allows you to walk in their shoes and assess the emotions a customer experiences at every touchpoint with your company. At those moments of truth is your customer angry? Impatient? Annoyed? These negative emotions usually have their root cause in process issues.
- Operational Signals. Growing backlogs or increasing cycle times are operational alarm bells that signal productivity and quality issues. A process that worked effectively in the past may no longer be the most efficient way to operate. Examine the work flow: How many hand-offs are required? What’s the error fallout rate? How much rework is required? Assess if mechanization efforts have been effectively integrated. These are issues that can plague both customer-facing and back-office operations, and almost always point to process problems. Often technology is viewed as a process fix, but you can’t fix a broken process with technology. Fine-tuning your process is an essential first step to any technology initiative that’s aimed at improving operations.
- Employee Signals. Everyone wants to have meaningful work and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in their contributions. Those operational issues just mentioned create employee frustration as well. Employee discontent can manifest itself in performance issues, attendance problems, and even an increase in turnover. These are warning signs that something is amiss in the processes your employees perform as part of their day to day work.
So make sure you have the right measures in place, ones that give you visibility to those early warning signs from your customers, your operations, and your employees. These early warning indicators will tell you it’s time for a process transformation before you see impacts to financial performance and customer retention.