Successful businesses have three things in common: effective policies, processes, and procedures. We can refer to these as the three Ps. Each employee in a company has their own set of rules to follow as they complete work tasks, and it is critical for the prolonged success of a business to ensure that each employee understands the company’s three Ps.
The problem is that far too many businesses struggle to both define and differentiate their three Ps, leading to confusion among employees and the muddling together of these three fundamentally different but equally essential elements.
Understanding the three Ps is important for creating and maintaining a complete working system. Too often do we see businesses implementing only one or two of the three Ps, yet all three elements are equally necessary in order to properly delegate job tasks and ensure continued productivity and profitability.
I’ve outlined below the definitions of and key differences between each of our three Ps. It is my belief that understanding these three elements is one of the key determinants of success in any business.
A policy is a guideline used to set direction in an organization. Without such guidelines, there is much more room for error in your business. An example of a policy that is prevalent in today’s business world pertains to email. Common email policy within a business often includes rules regarding imitating others, the use of foul language, and malicious content.
Policies should be seen as courses of action to guide and influence the decision-making process in your business. With clear and effective policies comes increased efficiency and the mitigation of avoidable mistakes that threaten productivity as well as your bottom line.
A process is the high-level overview of a task. In other words, the process is the expanded view, or “map”, that defines exactly how an objective can be reached, from start to finish.
Take a moment to think about any task that may be required to be completed in your business. What steps must be taken in order to complete that task? At any level in your organization, it is critical to have processes with clearly defined objectives as well as steps to take in order to reach these objectives. Whether you are an intern or senior management, you need processes that plainly outline your objectives and how to meet them.
Building on what we now understand about the high-level nature of a process, a procedure refers to the series of steps required in order to complete a task. If the process can be seen as a map, then the procedure covers the directions to reach the destination. If the task is posting a blog, then the procedure would detail the exact steps that must be taken to complete the task from start to finish.
As you can now see, the three P’s are interconnected, yet fundamentally different from each other. Each of these elements must be present in order to encourage maximum productivity in your business.
Creating, maintaining, and continually updating your policies, processes, and procedures mitigates avoidable mistakes and ensures that every employee at every level of your business knows what is expected of him or her, and how to achieve their clearly defined objectives.
How are your three Ps? Do you think you are giving them the attention they deserve?
As a business advisor, I know that business owners and senior level managers understand how critical their customers are to the success of their business, which is why ensuring you are providing superior customer service needs to be at the top of the list.
Whether you have a 5-person team or a 100-person team, how you answer the phone, how quickly you respond to their questions, how you address their concerns and whether you give them the ability to escalate their issue can mean the difference between gaining a loyal customer and losing one.
In a world that is dealing with more online purchases, online chats, 1-800 numbers, and less and less face-to-face communication, it is now more important than ever that you have a solid customer service process.
I’ve outlined below a few key steps to help you create a solid customer service process for your business and ensure your customers have a positive customer service experiences, which inspires them to be loyal to your business.
- Empower Your Employees
The more empowered your employees are to handle certain types of issues; the less involvement is required on your part. Empowerment can be accomplished through:
- Training: Provide training for the decision makers and the front line staff. Employees should receive the training necessary for them to resolve issues, such as conflict-resolution skills.
- Clear and expanded roles: It’s important that your employees have a clear understanding of their roles, and what falls within their capacity. They need to know what is okay to approve and what is not. For example, they can offer a free month of services up to $50.
- Have A Clear Process Of Escalation
Think about your processes. Create a process so that a call or complaint can be escalated to a decision-maker. As customers ourselves, we have often asked the question: Can I speak to someone in charge? It’s a question that arises when customers feel unsatisfied with the frontline’s attempt to resolve their issue. As a customer, you feel relevant and appreciated when your call is handled by a decision-maker. That is at the heart of great customer service. The reason this is so important is that often, frontline staff are constrained in making any decisions without approval. The decision-maker is more experienced and can use judgment in resolving the issue.
- Make sure it is timely: The sooner a call or complaint can be escalated, the sooner it can be resolved, and the sooner the customer is satisfied.
- Make sure it is smooth: The customer should be able to be transferred to your decision-maker without having to go through unnecessary steps.
- Measure and Adjust
This is a step that I find even businesses with a strong customer service orientation sometimes overlook. In order to get a firm and tangible understanding of how your customer service is handling your customers, you’ll need to have:
- Follow-up: Create a follow-up process. E.g. After a customer has interacted with your customer service team, an email is sent to them, or a phone call is made to the customer to confirm that they were satisfied.
- Document: Documenting your escalated accounts will help you not only perfect your process, but it will also make for a great source of training in the future. You should be able to look at the number of incidents on a spreadsheet to see how the team is performing.
Do you have a good customer service process? What does good customer service mean for your business?