This is an interview with business coach Shelli Johannes-Wells -- with some tips for setting external customer POLICIES for your company.
Q: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS COACHING SERVICES.
A: We provide leaders, managers and executives with objective and challenging one-on-one coaching to help them to further succeed with their organization or teams. This can include building time management skills, identifying tasks and processes to delegate, increasing individual or team motivation, meeting organization goals, improving customer SERVICE, and providing objective FEEDBACK on daily interactions and activities.
Q: HOW IMPORTANT ARE STANDARD PROCEDURES?
A: CRITICAL! It is absolutely essential to have standard policies, procedures, and processes in place -- these are the backbone of your business and your customer relations. They set a common UNDERSTANDING around creating consistency, help to avoid "crisis management" and ensure the right people "habits" are developed.
Q: HOW DO YOU HELP CLIENTS SET RULES?
A: The client usually knows what is and what is not working for them. I simply take them through exercises to identify the areas that need STRUCTURE, provide input from my experience, and guide them in identifying how they need to get there. I don't believe in providing answers. The client usually knows what is best for their organization -- I just help them get there and provide additional resources and OPTIONS they may have not thought about yet.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CUSTOMER CARE MISTAKE?
A: Money -- too many businesses are way too focused on the money. Some have the idea that clients are not RELATIONSHIPS, they are dollars and cents. I believe some businesses focus too hard on "how can I make the most money from this client" instead of asking the question "how can I add the most VALUE." It is hard not to focus on the financial aspect especially during these difficult times when clients are looking for ways to cut and companies like mine grasp for ways to survive. There needs to be flexibility on both sides. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little back. I believe if you stay true to your heart and business ethic -- you will be rewarded.
Q: WHERE DO BUSINESS GO WRONG AS THEY GROW?
A: I see companies desperate to cut costs while maintaining or increasing revenues. The biggest mistake I feel a company can make is to cut all the programs that focus on their PEOPLE. This is the time those programs are needed the most. It may appear to be the best place for cost savings -- cut training, cut communications, cut raises, cut development programs. But in my experience, it hurts the company more in the long run. I believe there needs to be a balance.
Q: WHEN SHOULD YOU REVIEW YOUR POLICIES?
A: Companies need to be willing to admit when things are not working or when things could be BETTER. In these times, things are constantly changing -- I believe the ones who don't bend and flex fail more easily than the ones who do. Even if a process is working, it is still important to ASSESS it periodically to ensure it supports any changes going on in the organization. I do not believe in -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". There is some maintenance involved -- don't we change the oil in our cars and take our pets to the vet for check-ups? Be sure your company gets its annual checkup. It pays off in the long run.
Q: ARE THERE ANY GOLDEN POLICY RULES?
A: The essential thing to me is "be authentic and TRUE to yourself." Don't try to MOLD your business, your values or your personality to get business. If you have to do that, you don't want the business to begin with.
Q: ANY ADVICE ABOUT BUSINESS PROCEDURES?
A: Assess what is WORKING and how well it is working first. You would not be successful or still working if you were not doing something right. How can you sustain these things that work well? Also look at what works but still needs IMPROVEMENT and what is the business value.
Shelli Johannes-Wells is a business coach with Bilan (French for "balance"). You may contact her at 678-428-3943 or visit her website at www.bilaninc.com.
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