As a small business owner, we are constantly dealing with complicated, red tape heavy requirements of obtaining and keeping a Company trade licence, personal visas and Company bank accounts. Even after setting everything up and being able to move forward with our work, we have annual renewals to contend with and after 5 years of doing this, it seems the process changes annually and every action requires at least 5 visits to the bank or sponsoring Company to update everything.
The internal systems and connecting departments all work independently of each other. Departments that work alongside each other are not able to connect the dots and help us move forward. Even “Relationship Managers” seem to complicate things rather than simplify and you are often puling your hair out with frustration as you struggle to find a straight answer.
The only one who seems to be affected by this bureaucracy is me, the customer.
So just how customer facing are your internal processes and policies? Do you leave your customers confused, frustrated and ultimately less likely to use your services again in the future? Here are a few thoughts I think we should all consider:
- As Companies grow, they tend to “bolt on” processes to ones they currently have rather than create news ones to allow for a more complex organisation. The “bolt on's” can potentially complicate everything for those within your Company, let alone the external customer. Review what you already have in place, can they be simplified? Do they really have to be that complicated?
- As business owners and founders, how often do you test out your own Company services to see the way your customers are being treated? Often the answer to this question is no, perhaps you should consider being your own Companies mystery shopper – try the website ordering, send an email to the “contact us with your question” service you have on your website, does anyone ever contact you back? Ring your reception to see how they answer the phone, use your Companies services or ask a friend to do so, what was their impression of the service they received?
- Building onto this last point, do you ask your customers for their feedback? What action do you take when you get customer feedback? If customers take the time to give you feedback you should act on it, better to hear the issues they faced and deal with them than not to ask and wonder why your repeat business is declining.
We are trapped in the ongoing business set up bureaucracy and red tape as there isn’t that much competition and moving from one provider to another is steeped in complications and to be honest, I don’t need the grey hairs so I am staying put, better the devil you know!
However, as a business owner, competition is fierce, we need to make things as simple as possible for our customers, work with them to make their life easier rather than more complicated. Remember KISS – Keep It Short & Simple, apply this acronym to all new and current processes, your Customers will appreciate you for this and you will retain their loyalty.