It may seem an obvious thing to say but the more consistent your organisation’s day-to-day operations are, then the easier it will be to maximise efficiency and productivity. Here are a few ways that consistency can be improved in any organisation.
1. Using a quality management system
Introducing the ISO 9001 quality management system can help you save money, do more business, drive up profits, and increase customer satisfaction. How? By identifying more efficient ways of working and putting processes in place that will help your organisation run more smoothly and consistently meet your customers’ needs and expectations. It will help you standardise your management and other operations without unnecessarily over-complicating things. Overly complex or inefficient processes can lead to errors which can damage your business and its reputation.
It’s important that your quality management system is aligned with the short and long term strategic goals of the whole of your organisation to ensure the changes you make are the correct ones. Working with an external auditor will help you to continually improve and make adjustments where necessary.
2. Understanding the importance of your employees
Your employees are as important as your customers. Without engaged, happy employees, your staff turnover will increase, productivity will be reduced and customer satisfaction levels will suffer. Your employees need to know exactly what is expected of them in any situation, so make sure you have written policies and procedures that everyone understands and adheres to.
If employees feel that a company cares about them, they will work harder, productivity will rise and engagement will increase. They will be more inclined to go the extra mile when it comes to up-selling and cross-selling.
Listen to your employees. Introduce a scheme whereby employees can make their voices heard. Take their ideas seriously and, where possible, implement suggested changes – even if it’s only for a trial period. If it’s not possible to make certain changes, then best practice is to explain the reasons why these ideas cannot be taken further. Employees will recognise that their opinion is valuable and become more engaged as a result.
Be accountable for your own performance and make it clear that everyone is accountable for theirs. Displaying company-wide performance metrics on an organisational dashboard keeps everyone in the loop and on their toes.
3. Focus on customer service
Providing outstanding customer service should be at the heart of everything your company or organisation does. The customers of the companies that do it best know what to expect every time they make contact with them and for whatever reason. This should be true of your organisation too. Equipping your staff with the right tools and knowledge to get the job done through extensive, ongoing training is key. It needs to cover everything from how the telephone is answered, the tone of email replies and the attitude of customer facing staff to knowledge of policies on returns and the ability to deal with any problem or question, however complex, with fairness and consistency. This will inspire loyalty and trust in your customers. Switched-off staff with poor product knowledge or inadequate training or authority will alienate customers and send them through the doors of your competitors.
4. Keep equipment in good working order
It’s sometimes the small problems that can trip a company up. You go to print out some information for a waiting customer and the ink’s run out. It doesn’t look professional. Don’t let the fact that you’re busy be a distraction from all the little things that need doing too. Ensure it’s someone’s responsibility to maintain the printer and the photocopier regularly, for example removing dust and debris, replacing toner cartridges and cleaning print heads. When your team are in a hurry to print their documents, essential maintenance like this can get overlooked as staff can become reluctant to take time out of their schedule to repair something they think isn’t their responsibility.
Keep all your equipment regularly maintained. It can be costly to fix problems that can be easily avoided through regular check-ups. Make sure there are no viruses in emails you send to customers by keeping anti-virus software up to date and ensure you have a system in place to report issues and have them dealt with promptly.
Look at your phone systems and your network. Antiquated systems can make your business sluggish and inefficient and cause frustration among staff and customers alike. It can be a false economy not to address these issues, and in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, inefficiencies like waiting on slow internet speeds or using sluggish, out-dated computers can drive up costs.
Successful businesses and organisations are continually exploring ways to become more consistent and efficient. Make sure yours doesn’t get left behind.