Customer's Make Great Things Happen
You may have heard it before because I know that I have, a company wants to be the best in their field of business so they look at their staff and how they work and decide that the one of the answers is a change of culture.
Unfortunately wanting a change of culture does not result in change happening because culture is something that is made up by people not processes and measurements.
In early 2015 I worked with one such company, RS Components, who realised that things needed to change to facilitate and secure the companies long term future. I recently revisited them and this blog is about what I found.
All businesses need customers yet too often their needs are not understood nor at the center of the way the company works or the staff’s focus. For instance the staff working patterns were mismatched to the customer demand, put simply the way customer conducted their business with the company had changed but the staff shifts had not.
When changes were made any impact to the customer had to be a positive one, then also to the staff and company. A shift review ensured that the customer, staff and company got what they needed.
Visualisation of problems
It can be hard to put yourself in to someone else’s shoes so staff were encouraged to think of queues at supermarket tills and how customers would feel if they couldn’t use empty check outs or if others jumped the queue before them.
This helped staff understand the customer wanted to receive good service, pay the right price, be treated fairly and consistently and above all leave with the products they came for feeling good about their experience.
Education from within
Companies, due to their size, end up departmentalised with experts not seeking the insight available from others. By inviting Purchasing in to the Contact and Fulfilment centers it enabled them to seek the voice of the customer through their colleagues. Some products that looked good financially were found to not be meeting the customer’s needs whilst others were.
As a result changes were made to the products being sold and the information that accompanied them. Staff felt that they were influencing things at the heart of the company and they were part of the company’s future.
Working with the positive people
It’s a fact of life that not everyone sees change as a good thing and suggest “we’re ok as we are” or “I’m different and don’t need to change” or “the interests of staff aren’t being considered”. We focus on these people with the objective of getting them on board and, as in education, spend more time with those who can’t or choose not to than their workmates who can or want to be shown how.
Focusing on those who wish to facilitate change and being upfront with the details enabled the momentum to build and steadily more and more people came on board.
Investment in expertise
If change is to be facilitated through people it is important to remember that those people need development to support them.
Managers were likely to be confronted by staff with concerns and emotions so they needed support to help them deal with the situation. The support given was not about understanding the benefit of change, but how to counsel someone facing it.
The resource team needed to be more confident in their own abilities and use of their tools which was addressed through external training resulting in the professionalism of their roles and a widening of their influence.
Where greater technical product knowledge was required staff received the appropriate training along with means to find the knowledge they don’t have quickly. Each person was able to learn in their own way and at their own speed, one size didn’t fit all needs.
Organisation and speed
Though change doesn’t happen quickly the need to make it should, or at least it shouldn’t labour. To be successful many of the above points relied on decisiveness, speed of action, strong leadership and organisation. Making people accountable by a given date got things done and enabled the savings made to be partially reinvested in staff support and training.
Cultural change is achieved by people for people, in other words by your staff for your customers, and believing technology or method alone can achieve the same results has been proven to be wrong. One person can motivate others to achieve more than they can alone and by working with positive people, enabling and educating them the company can achieve great things.
By placing the customer at the center of what you do gives focus and motivation that change is a good thing with benefit to staff and their colleagues.
The above work was undertaken under project Triumph which has been widely recognised within the resource planning industry though winning The Forum’s Innovation Award for Global Customer Focus.
For more information about the awards and the RS Components entry: