Are your systems costing you business?

The really good service providers do something that the rest can’t: They provide what the customer wants. Don’t most business do this you ask? Well, no. The average ones offer what they want their customer base to have. The better ones offer some level of customization. And the best? Well, they listen to who they serve and offer custom options based around comments, questions, and suggestions that they receive.

While they don’t bend to everything they hear, they are sensitive to what’s out there and design their business around where they believe their customer base will be in the future. They offer valuable options.

How are they able to provide so much customization, yet still deliver as if they’re rolling it off of Henry Ford’s assembly line? They’re able to do this because they have systems that work.

What goes wrong?
When some businesses try to do this without the proper systems in place, chaos ensues. The issue is that when potential customers call, email, or comment on social media platforms to get information, sometimes those channels break down.

How many dollars have been lost on slips of note paper that never make their way to the person who needs to follow up on those leads? How many emails have been adrift in the ether that could have led to a long term relationship with a client? And social media comments? Well, some businesses still don’t follow up on these, or even know comments towards them are out there.

Making a change to your processes can be a huge benefit. What if you could increase your revenue just by making a few simple adjustments? What if these adjustments would actually lead to less work?

Review your channels
The first step is to assess all of the inbound channels that you currently have set up. These are all of your staff’s phone numbers and email addresses, contact forms on your website, social media accounts, and even physical places where people can stop in.

Scrutinize your processes
Next, look at your processes. The best way to do this is to have each staff member (for smaller businesses) or each group or team of staff members (for larger firms) take a look at how they handle each of these inquiries and who they forward each type of inquiry to.

Then hold a meeting to discuss the findings (or select a representative from each team so the entire staff doesn’t need to meet). This meeting might bring to light some discrepancies in your processes, duplication of efforts, or the worst, areas that can lead to confusion for your prospects.

Designate leaders
First thing to do after this is figure out who your key “follow up” staff members will be. Remember, following up breaks down when everyone is responsible but no one is accountable. If you don’t already have these employees assigned, ask for volunteers who would be willing to take on this responsibility.

Having two people monitor your contact form, and another two monitor your social media presence (for smaller businesses) enables accountability to just a few total people, without each needing to be there 100% of their time.

Don’t leave your financial success up to chance, or a college student that has 74 other things on his mind to follow up with a potential client just because he’s the one who checked the company email account. (While he should, he may not.)

Everyone else is then simply responsible for their own email and phone (and if you’re having issues with this, it’s probably not a process issue you’re dealing with).

Eliminate the guesswork for your customers
To streamline further, make it obvious what your prospects should do if they want to find out more about your service options. Your contact form, which again goes to one account that is always monitored, may be the easiest solution.

Make finding it on your site easy, and for even more customization, enable it with a dropdown menu for new inquires, current clients, and former clients, as well as what type of services they’re looking for.

Document for training
And when you think that everyone knows what’s going on, still make sure you put all of this in writing in a policies and procedures manual or instructional sheet. The worst thing that can happen is for a new staff member to receive an inquiry during her first week and not know what to do with it. That’s training’s fault, not hers. Make sure that one of the first things new staff members are taught is how to deal with new or current business inquiries.

We’re all busy, but there are things we can do to help remove barriers to our new and existing customers so they become long term clients. Having systems in place is good. Having simple systems in place is better. Having simple systems in place that everyone can understand and work within is ideal.
 

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