Learn from a top business coach how to create proper connection points within an organization.
“Being nice to people is just 20% of providing good customer service. The important part is designing systems that allow you to do the job right the first time. All the smiles in the world aren’t going to help you if your product or service is not what the customer wants.” – James L. Heskett, Thomas O. Jones, Gary W. Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, Jr. and Leonard A. Schlesinger, Service Profit Chain
To cut down on errors (the actual goal is to eliminate them), the best businesses take the time to write out scripts, checklists, and workflows that clearly show the steps in their process. Drawing out these workflows on a massive white board will allow you to see where potential connection errors may occur so that you can preemptively design system modifications to prevent those errors.
This business coach says you must think about this aspect of your business as a pipeline:
A team of geologists and geophysicists must first determine by analyzing seismic data, possible locations of oil and natural gas buried deep under the earth’s surface.
A team of people working on a drilling rig must auger deep down into the earth’s subsurface to find a reservoir of oil.
Once the oil has been extracted from the earth, it must be shipped to a refinery.
The raw oil must be refined into a usable form.
The gas must be shipped to gas stations.
The gas must be marketed and sold to customers.
Take it from a business coach, although the men and women involved in the process may never meet each other as they are geophysicists working on boats, drill deck workers working oil rigs in the middle of the ocean, and truckers hauling the gas from the refinery to a local gas station, they must work together to generate a profit and beat their competition. The goal must be to work as a team to deliver incredible products and services to your ideal and likely buyers while beating the heck out of your competition.
Although the job of hauling gas from the refinery may seem simple to the person buying the gas, it is actually very difficult to organize the great symphony of commerce in a scalable and duplicable way. In the world of business, all your branding efforts, your strategic planning and your good intentions don’t matter if your team fails to deliver or if a major oil spill occurs (using the example above). Think about how many millions of people are able to drive their cars and heat their homes because of the quality discovering, drilling, and refining of oil accomplished by British Petroleum. Yet most people today think of oil spills when they think of British Petroleum because of the catastrophic oil spill that occurred on April 20, 2010.
Business Coach Fact:
On April 20, 2010, the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill began. After the Deepwater Horizon oilrig sank to the ocean’s floor, the oil continued to flow out of the earth and into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. Eleven workers went missing and were never found and the coast of Louisiana was devastated by the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled into the ocean. Later in November of 2010, the United States settled federal criminal charges as BP agreed to a record-setting $4.525 billion fine.
“The first thing to say is I’m sorry…We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” -Tony Hayward (The former CEO of British Petroleum)
Although I am not a British Petroleum apologist, I must say that I can empathize on a very small level with Tony Hayward. When my entertainment company began to grow quickly and I screwed up those weddings, I wasn’t trying to destroy the lives of the brides we were working with, I wasn’t greedy (I was just trying to earn enough money to cover the cost of living), but I was ignorant about the importance of creating detailed linear systems to greatly reduce the number of errors my team and I would make during critical connection points.
In the world of business, key connection points occur between your marketing and sales teams. Your marketing team has to work very hard to produce leads and they must have the faith that your sales team is going to close the leads that they produce. Key connections occur when your operations and service (or product delivery team) finishes the job and they turn in the documentation to the accounting or billing department whom they trust to collect payment from your customer. Key connections occur between your human relations department and your payroll or accounting department as HR trusts them to pay the members of your team accurately and on time for the work they have provided. You must have detailed and linear workflow that documents your system to make sure that there are efficient connections occurring between your teams all day, every day, without the ball constantly being dropped.
Business coach teaches about creating efficient connection points.
The right information must be gathered. The team that is passing the workload from themselves to the next team must provide the detailed information that is required in a systematic way. When your sales team places the order, they may need to invest a few extra minutes to clearly articulate what was promised to the customer so that the production / fulfillment team can accurately and consistently meet the customer’s expectations.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw (The famous Irish playwright who was able to write 60 plays, in part because of the methodical nature with which he worked)
An experienced business coach says must be clear about who owns each step of the process. It is incredibly important for everyone to know who actually owns each step of the process. In my own office, I fight a constant battle against allowing an ambiguous and unaccountable group of three people to own a step of the process. A person will say, “The three of us will work together and we should have something for you by Monday.” I have to passionately fight back and say, “Who specifically is going to own this process and on what specific day will this project be done?” It is incredibly important for everyone to know who owns which step of the process and what step of the process each action item falls within. You must clearly define each step of your workflow and it must be a part of your company culture to declare openly and transparently at which step of the process a project is. This business coach says you must include all responsible parties in this crucial connection as they acknowledge what step of the process they are in.