Thursday, May 31, 2007

Week 36 - Getting Coffee The Way You Like It

There is no big secret to fixing a consistency problem in your business - you need a system. A business without a documented system is like an airline pilot trying to get from Los Angeles to London without a flight plan or instruments. It’s that simple, the pilot might make it based on skill alone (after all, the pilot is good at flying a plane), but the odds are against long term success. Everyday we see examples of this in the business world. People sell products or services but they do it reactively, never bothering to stop and document the steps required to achieve a consistent result time after time. How does this show up in the community around you?
  • Have you ever been served a coffee that was perfect, only to return again and have your mouth scolded by milk about 30 degrees hotter than it should be?
  • Have you ever experienced outstanding customer service at a restaurant and then on another visit, had the opposite experience?
  • Has a friend ever received a discount or offer at a store and when you tried to take advantage of the same, the staff were confused or would not acknowledge the offer?
  • Have you ever been asked “...whose next?” or “ right?” rather then “Welcome, how may I help you?”
  • Have you ever visited a hotel or resort and been totally satisfied only to find that on a return trip the hotel was dirty and not as you had remembered?

You probably get the point. How does it make you feel when you are treated in this inconsistent manner? How does your brain react next time you want to buy a coffee or take a holiday? Nothing is more certain than your brain telling you:

“DANGER : not sure what experience I will receive this time, try somewhere new!”

Systems serve two main functions:

  1. INTERNAL PERFORMANCE - To ensure that internally, all critical functions of delivering your product or service are carried out in the same manner and consistently revised to improve their performance.
  2. EXTERNAL PERFORMANCE - To ensure that all of your customers are treated properly, but more importantly, are always treated consistently.

Over the coming weeks we will look at these two areas in depth and create an operations manual that will let you set your business on “cruise control”.

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