Yvonne, banks in one of the big financial institutions in town. Recently, she had to wait for more than two hours to get her money. The reason is that this bank has changed its internal procedures on cash withdrawals of over a million Rwandan francs.
The new procedure requires the cashier to get an authorization from a supervisor who is either in meetings, at lunch break or busy assisting other customers queuing with other requests.
After that process of authorization, the poor cashier has to go to another place to make photocopy of the customers’ identity card. This is also a new rule as in the past, the cashier just needed to see the identity card. Today, this isn’t sufficient anymore. So just imagine the number of ups and downs of the cashier, the waste of time and even the quantity of paper wasted every day on this process.
Most of us understand that internal policies and procedures are formulated by companies to help generate direction to best serve customers. There is actually nothing wrong in having procedures. But then, this becomes an issue when these procedures become simply too cumbersome.
Even if the first objective of having a procedure is to protect consumers, employees and the company in general; this has to be done in a simple and easy manner. Too many procedures can actually have a negative impact on service delivery. The next time you are deciding on a new procedure, please consider the following:
Use a team approach in defining this new procedure
Procedures help in improving a company’s efficiency or rectifying weak links in the provision of service delivery. But you need to associate the team in defining this new procedure. By being involved in developing procedures, staff will feel confident in their abilities to make decision. This will also help them to take ownership of this new procedure.
You may want to say you cannot involve junior staff in this exercise. But the fact here is that if the procedure is related to service delivery, you will definitely need the input from people who deal with customers in their day to day job.
In the example above, the cashier couldn’t explain why this new procedure was put in place. He was just asked to respect it and that was exactly what he was trying to do.
As a manager, do take time to explain all the aspects of a new service procedure to your team members so that they can in return do the same with customers.
Walk through the process as a customer and as an employee
Avoid too much bureaucracy but instead take time to go through the practical stages of the process as a customer or as an employee. This will help you to better understand how it works. A good written procedure might not necessary be easy to put in place.
Tom Peters says that “Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures.” The simpler the procedure, the easier it will be to be implemented.
Also avoid putting two new procedures in place at once. Give each one the focus and concentration it deserves.
Get Feedback from customer during the trial period
After putting in place a new procedure, give it a trial period. Check with employees and customers how they react. Adapt it to the comments they give you. While it is true that human beings do not always like changes, do pay attention to customers feedback by establishing feedback mechanisms that can help to adjust the rules.
In conclusions, anytime you decide to put in place a new procedure or internal policy; think first about the impact on service delivery. They should be effective, clear, simple and precise. Always look for the balance between the end result and customer’s satisfaction. Remember cumbersome time-consuming procedures can equal to customer dissatisfaction.