It’s not laziness, and it’s certainly not because they don’t care. Your people, either consciously or intuitively, know when a process is ineffective or inefficient, and they also know when those processes are hurting your customers’ experience. People deviate from a defined business process, because the majority of the time, it’s either the best thing to do, or the right thing to do for the customer and the business.
Look around your workplace. Chances are 99% of your people take pride in their work and genuinely care about the result for their customers… hopefully more than 99%. If you ask them why they don’t follow a certain process, expect to hear “…that process doesn’t make sense”; “…it doesn’t work with that scenario”; “…the process is more about us doing business with ourselves, than with the customer”, “…it’s just not an efficient process” or variations thereof. They deviate because they care, and to make your business better.
Over the last 15 years I’ve polled countless people as to the reasons why the focus on process fails to resonate with them, and overwhelmingly they respond that:
- processes are often designed in a way that stifles their ability to provide ‘the best outcome’ for the customer in front of them,
- processes that consider only a single planned outcome can disempower staff, and poorly designed processes contribute significantly to disengagement, and
- processes designed with “efficiency” in mind, often shut out autonomous decision making and discretion that could be applied to resolve process-customer conflict on the spot.
Whether the intent is to drive consistency of service, the need for control over the outcome, or a sense that our staff require very narrow parameters in which to operate, the design of processes and procedures too often focusses solely on the specific procedural steps required to complete the task. What’s missing is the focus on the policies underpinning the operation of the business.
“…When staff do not know the supporting policies, there is almost no chance that the customer will receive the best possible result, no chance that your staff will be empowered to think and make a decision, and every chance that a bad process today will continue to be a bad process tomorrow and the day after…”
A policy is a set of principles and rules used as the basis for making decisions. Policies sets the boundaries about what is an acceptable outcome, but too often processes are designed without consideration for the spectrum of variations and scenarios requiring decisioning within that particular process. Too often, staff are trained only in the process and the set procedure, without reference to the supporting policies. When staff do not know the supporting policies, there is almost no chance that the customer will receive the best possible result, no chance that your staff will be empowered to think and make a decision, and every chance that a bad process today will continue to be a bad process tomorrow and the day after. More critically, you’ve also missed an opportunity to create an outstanding experience for a customer.
“But what about consistency… we can’t offer one customer a different service to another?” We disagree. Most processes are designed to suit what is thought to be the most common or planned scenarios, leaving an alarmingly high proportion of customers disenchanted, as they don’t fit into the pre-determined bucket. Customers no longer expect, they demand, that you address every interaction on its merits, which means working within your policy boundaries to deliver the best possible outcome for every customer. Of course you need to train your people in how to execute the technical aspects of the process, but it also means placing a higher proportion of training time on the applicable policies, and the thought required to interpret and act – and in turn, spending less effort in locking down the steps and the sequence of the process.
Initially, for organisations moving from a more ‘procedurally controlled’ culture, this may feel as though the processes are a bit “loose”. But that is more than made up for with more satisfied customers, and more empowered and engaged staff. Processes become simpler, less constrictive and inherently more efficient and outcome focussed. This approach also forces more emphasis and thinking to be done around the distinction between regulatory policy and your business policies, risks, tolerances, controls and most importantly, your intended customer journeys and experiences.
There is also another benefit for business owners and leaders. The volume of decisions you are forced to make on a daily basis related to interpreting policy in order to address a customer scenario will dramatically reduce… but more on that in a future post.
Regardless of whether you have the ability to automate your policies, investment of time and training in policy driven execution drives better customer and employee satisfaction, improves process efficiency and effectiveness, and saves you valuable time.
In response to the need for more adaptive and empowering ways to deliver policy-driven value, I have partnered with Inventec Australia to assist the design and development of SENCILO, an adaptive, outcome-led, value delivery platform. SENCILO enables the deployment of flexible business processes that allow real time adaptations of the process flow based on each individual scenario encountered and the established business policy boundaries. This platform is a shift away from traditional process design and workflow solutions, not only because it allows the user to configure multiple delivery path options for every process, but also allows for the sequence and ordering of tasks to be adapted to the scenario at hand, in real time. SENCILO is a 100% cloud-based platform, and combines business-friendly, low-code configuration, detachable and modular componentry, and multiple, flexible subscription pricing options.
Visit the link below or contact us for more information on how we can help you deliver real outcomes.