Serving Your Customers Well (803 words)
If serving your customers well is the goal of your organization, start with your organization’s ability to execute its core competency. For a retailer that might mean excelling at the logistics necessary to get goods in your store in a cost effective manner and never having an empty shelf. For the service sector, it might mean dispatch logistics on well stocked service vehicles with highly trained service persons. For the manufacturing sector it might be producing defective-free goods on time and shipping the product on schedule.
However, I frequently observe upper management engaging in what I like to call the flavor-of-the-month-management-strategy. This probably doesn’t need explaining; it’s the continuing saga of executives again and again stabbing in the dark for their instant silver bullet solution to the perceived ills of their organization.
Exercise in Senselessness?
It might be that these executives are undiagnosed attention deficit disorder sufferers or perhaps they just like bright shinny objects; whatever it is, they seem not to be able to stay on task but find it more rewarding to bounce from thing to thing. Ask yourself this about your organization, “Was the last program at your organization really effective or was it simply a distraction for some and an exercise in senselessness for most?” If your boss is around, perhaps it would be better for you not to answer the question?
In recent history, consultants, trainers and other program service providers have been made wildly wealthy by executives that just love bright shiny objects—aka, the next flavor-of-the-month strategy to get employees to… Unfortunately, few of these programs focus bettering on the organization’s capability to perform in the area of their core competence.
Per Minute In-Stock Product
Sure, your customers care about the age old business triad: price, quality and service, with selection being part of the quality segment. But, in today’s crazy busy environment, what your customers really care about is: you having what they want when they want it. “It’s coming in this afternoon” is no longer acceptable. Your customers will simply leave and shop the competition.
Do you really think they’re coming back this afternoon? After you spent all your resources to get them in the door, why in the world would you want to shove them off to your competitor? Why is Amazon.com growing while local book stores are falling like flies? Amazon delivers, and it is to that standard to which you are being held in the minds of your customers
Your customers measure you by their mental “per minute in-stock” proposition. So, if your organization’s latest flavor-of-the-month program does not directly help your organization to:
- Be in Stock at All Times
- Be Competitively Priced at All Times
- Be Pleasant at All Times
Then, why are you doing it? Perhaps the answer is a bit like a cartoon I once saw. Here’s the visual; man sitting and looking down. The caption stating, “Busting my rear end around this organization is like wearing a dark blue suit and wetting my pants. It sure gives me a warm feeling, but nobody notices!”
Is your latest flavor-of-the-month program giving executives that warm feeling?
Middle Management Mediocrity
“Hey, go ahead and take the dirt out of this hole and move it over there to that hole.” Sounds pretty crazy doesn’t it? Why in the world would one want to do that other than to punish a disruptive prisoner or unwilling solder in boot camp?
But is it so crazy? How many times have you seen in your workplace people redoing work or activities for very poor reasons? Most likely, more than you’d like to admit. This situation frequently rears its ugly head when an organization experiences communication challenges—well, let’s call it what it really is: they suck at communication. Or, it could be ego, stupidity, and/or stubbornness that caused this needless reworking and resource squandering.
There is also another down side; rank and file employee demoralization. When employees witness what they completely believe laziness or incompetence on the part of their supervisors, do you really think they are motivated to try harder?
Some executives believe that planned chaos keeps employees on their toes. While planned chaos can make things interesting for the lesser employee who needs constant stimulation, however it makes it nearly impossible for the competent and productive employee to remain.
Measure What You Should Manage
Really, do you think your customers care about your dollars per square foot, dollars per transaction, employee costs, or end-of-the-year profitability? They simply want you to have what they want, when they want it. They just want you to be great at your core competency.
Here is the 64-thoudand dollar question; do you measure your per-minute in stock situation or your trip dispatch and service completion effectiveness? Those are the metrics upon which you should obsess.