As a business owner I am always fascinated to see how other businesses operate and try and find ways to improve my own company as well as the operating processes of clients that ask us for help.
This week I visited a large, national electrical goods retailer. I’ve found service here in the past pretty poor, but their range of products and descriptions of the goods (Without needing to talk to someone who knows less than the customer) is helpful.
We’ve all had the experience I’m sure where we are asked “Are you ok?” in a half-hearted manner when you have just started looking, and then they are no where to be seen when you actually need help. This week was no different.
Having tested and then selected the product I wanted I waited a few minutes to see if any staff member might wander in my direction. That didn’t happen. So I decided to venture off to find someone and soon found a couple of staff members chatting hidden behind some huge TV’s.
Having explained I’d found something I’d like to buy and wanted to see if it was in stock, the chap walked me back to the product and then said “Let me go and find the specialist” for you. This took another 4 or 5 minutes. Between searching out the “wrong” staff member and waiting for the “right” one to arrive I could have easily left the store and gone elsewhere. Equally with quicker and more attentive service I may have been persuaded to but a higher produced product or some additional items.
Despite lack of attentiveness or salesmanship, the key learning point for me in the example is that the process of insisting only certain people can do certain tasks, meant lower income and useful expertise being used when it wasn’t really required.
The “Wrong” person was clearly in sales, he just happened to not be in sales in this department. He could have very easily checked the stock levels and improved the overall experience. There were no customers in his department, so I can only assume there is a level of departmental commission on sales offered.
We often use the phrase “Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and it does appear that the process in this case was the blunt instrument.
What areas of your life or business are you operating in this way? Often our processes are what set our business apart. How we do things is a badge of honour. However what if some of those processes are actually hurting other areas of the business.
Can your staff or outsourced people who are paid lower handle the routine parts of the business allowing you to focus on higher value activities? What additional skills would be required to have anyone from your team and step in to handle a question?
Whether it is better delegation or developing your team, allowing others to handle more responsibility in the right situations, it’s worth considering!
Have a great week
Managing Director at The Snowflake Media Group, a sales and marketing consultancy for business, based in Halifax but serving clients regionally, nationally and internationally.