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Are Outdated Systems Costing You More Than Just Time and Money?
When was the last time you looked at your systems and procedures from the viewpoint of your customer or staff?
Unfortunately, many businesses develop systems to fix a problem (applying a band-aid) rather than looking at what is the best and simplest solution for the business, staff and the customer. This can often mean procedures are looked at in isolation rather than as a part of the entire business transaction or customer interaction.
This can result in procedures that are often duplicated or unnecessary, causing not only customer and staff frustration but also productivity inefficiencies.
Systems aren’t viewed as important because they are not seen as being sexy like say sales and marketing, so they are usually the last thing on the ‘to-do’ list instead of being the first.
Systems are everything; they are the keys to the success of any business.
Case in point.
I recently looked at a hospital’s customer appointment process and was staggered to see so much waste, in both time and money.
This was their process:
1. The customer receives a letter in the mail (yes, in the mail) advising of an appointment time.
2. The customer either phones or emails to accept/change the appointment.
3. If they accept the appointment, they receive another letter in the mail, confirming they accepted the appointment. There is no new information on this letter, the only wording which changes is ‘You have confirmed your appointment for X date’.
4. If they change the appointment, then another letter is sent in the mail, asking them to accept the new appointment time by phone or email (then steps 2 and 3 occur again).
Their process results in:
- Duplication of letters being printed and mailed; loss of productive time.
- Waste on at least two occasions; environmental, postage and productivity costs where an email would be fine for 90% of customers (and costs nothing except a few moments to click merge, check information is correct and send).
- Wasting customer and staff time by setting up appointments which may need to be changed. This could easily be overcome by a 5-minute phone call from the hospital to the customer to see if they’re available, and if not, working out a suitable appointment time on the phone, so customers see specialists as quickly as possible, and lives are not mucked around.
At the moment using this process, the customer has to wait to find out when an initial appointment is and if they can’t make it, they then wait again for another appointment which they may or may not be able to make.
One does have to ask the question:
If it is okay for the customer to accept their appointment by email, then why cannot this medium also be used by the hospital to send out the appointment letters rather than posting them in the mail?
I’m sure part of the reason is that their software system is antiquated and because to upgrade their technology and procedures may be costly. Surely that shouldn’t be an excuse though, especially when you look at the costs of this one small administrative process now in terms of financial, productivity and customer satisfaction.
If this is the process for accepting an appointment, how much time and money is being lost in the many other procedures and systems across the organisation?
Review your systems.
Most businesses are losing time and money because they don’t want to spend the necessary investment to stop and review their systems from three perspectives:
- As part of an entire business transaction.
- From a customer interaction point of view.
- From the staff point of view.
The reason most businesses give for not doing this is, “We don’t have time for that.”
Although this may seem like a valid reason, it’s actually an excuse. Imagine if you did invest in developing simple systems which save you time and make you money, instead of the reverse? What would that look like? How much better would dealing with your business be for your customer?
So, what’s your choice?
Are you going to maintain the status quo or are you going to stop and review to invest in building the foundations of a simple, profitable business?
There’s always a price to everything we do or don’t do. It’s just whether we accept the price which changes the outcome.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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