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Map a process; increase your turnover

Mapping and improving inbound enquiries

You’ve probably already mapped some processes. How long ago? Did you map and leave? Here’s how you have real impact on the bottom line.

As an example, let’s stick with the customer, as we were discussing them last week. Businesses always say they put the customer first, but they rarely do. If you haven’t gone through this process, you don’t either.

You can’t do this by sitting on your own and writing down what you think happens. To truly see things from your customer point of view, to see and feel what they feel, you have to become them. I’m not talking about method acting here but just start by calling the office or ask someone else to. 

Step One : Scope

Decide on the different scenarios you are going to test. I would suggest that these are the most important:

  1. New customer enquiry
  2. Existing customer amending an order

Step Two: Measurement

Decide what you are going to measure. For example:

How may rings before the phone is answered?

Who answers it?

How do they answer it?

How do they make you feel when they answer it?

How quickly do they get you to the person who can answer your question if they can’t?

Was the query resolved within that first phone call?

Step Three: Team

Sit with the person or team responsible for answering the phone. How does it work for them? Use the same measurements as in step two. Find out whether they are comfortable with the task, what happens if the person the caller needs to speak to isn’t available, or what happens if there’s no one to answer the phone. If messages are taken, what happens, what time frame is given to the client and how does the person taking the message ensure the customer hears back in that time frame?  Or do they? You get the idea.

Step Four: Map

Map them, all of them. There’s lots of different ways to map processes. Anything is better than nothing. When I started, I just used a spreadsheet. The most commonly used are probably process or swim lane (cross functional) flowcharts.

Whatever you decide to use, here’s where you start.

  1. Identify the problem/decide on the process you’re mapping – use this as the title
  2. Gather in the information by going through steps 1-4 above
  3. Decide where you will start and stop the process 
  4. Determine the steps and people/teams involved by going through Steps 1-4 above
  5. Draw symbols

Step Five: Monitor

Monitor the process. So, now you have a map. Test it. Call the office yourself or get someone else too. Try and ‘break’ the system. Try and find differences or sticking points. This could include calling at different times of day. Is there more than one number on your website or your business card? Check those too. Note what happens. 

Step Six: Analyse

Analyse the results you have from your monitoring. Where are the problems? Or where could things be improved. How could you make the customer’s experience more comfortable and/or get to point of sale quicker? Involve the people and teams who will be putting the changes into action. It’s vital they have buy-in at this point. It is also very likely they will have the best solutions. 

Step Seven: Optimise

Optimise the process. Redesign the process to include the changes that you’ve identified and put it into action. Then start the process again to ensure that everything works smoothly. 

For help with any part of this process contact

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