Mystery of the Missing Step
The mystery of the missing step manifests itself by a sudden rash of telephone calls, emails and texts. Whereby, management and employees involved with the process of producing services and/or products all attempt to solve its mystery and ramifications. All this prompted by a not-so-friendly phone call from the recipient of the service and/or product, the all-important customer.
To be sure, the missing step mystery haunts most small businesses without anyone permanently solving the mystery.
In view of this, consider the following rash of communications:
Joe Customer calls to inform Sally Smiley (Customer Service) that their order arrived on time; however, there’s been a MISTAKE, whereby the product is unusable. Not to mention, the customer is UNHAPPY!
Sally Smiley (Customer Service) instantly sends a text to Bill Sellumfast (Sales Representative), informing him of the mistake and that his client Joe Customer is upset. In fact, he’d better go by Joe’s office to smooth things over as Joe Customer threatens to close his account.
Sally Smiley (Customer Service) then quickly calls Betty Getitdone (Production Manager) informing her of the mistake on Joe Customer’s job. Consequently, she needs to put a RUSH on REWORKING the order, “no matter what’s on the current production schedule.”
Betty Getitdone (Production Manager) calls a quick meeting of all departments involved with Joe Customer’s job. Betty informs employees they will have to work Saturday to REWORK the job for Monday delivery.
At this point, employees are upset and want to know who made the MISTAKE on Joe Customer’s job. Whereby, Betty Getitdone discovers that Joe Customer sent in NEW SPECIFICATIONS for changing his order long before production started.
The All Familiar Finger Pointing Begins!
Employee A starts a small internal un-civil war by revealing to everyone that Employee B made the mistake. In addition, Employee A informs Betty Getitdone (Production Manager), that he personally gave Employee B the NEW corrected specifications. The fact is, Employee B failed to update the Job Ticket, causing the unfortunate MISTAKE.
As a result, Employee B, now furious at Employee A, yells at Betty Getitdone (Production Manager) that he’s NOT the cause of the stupid MISTAKE, because he passed on the updated specifications to Employee C, although verbally.
As an owner or manager, does any of this sound familiar?
Well, there’s more!
Now, Big Boss Billy comes flying out of his office wondering what the “blankety-blank” happened to Joe Customer’s job. Putting this in context, Big Boss Billy considers Joe Customer one of his biggest and best clients. To add to the now-tense environment, Bill Sellumfast, sales representative for Joe Customer calls Big Boss Billy to notify him of the colossal MISTAKE.
To make things worse, Bill Sellumfast (Sales Representative) informs Big Boss that if these STUPID MISTAKES don’t stop, he will leave Big Boss Billy’s company for greener pastures.
AND, take Joe Customer with him!
Okay, you get the point. So, you may be asking …
What’s the mystery?
The mystery is that most small businesses will keep making STUPID MISTAKES, usually caused by ONE MISSING STEP in the process of producing a job and/or service.
In the example above, the mistake’s ROOT CAUSE is the NEW specifications failed SYSTEMATIC UPDATING.
In short, there were no WRITTEN mechanisms/prompts for employees to CHECK for new updates. Consequently, someone who believed VERBAL COMMUNICATION is a justifiable way to transfer critical job or service information made an unnecessary MISTAKE.
The truth is, VERBAL COMMUNICATION for job/service information is common in many small businesses.
You may think that using EMAIL and/or TEXTING to communicate job/service information, which is a digital record, is NOT verbal!
THE PROBLEM IS NOT with using EMAIL and/or TEXTING to notify employees of NEW specifications …
THE PROBLEM IS, not having a prompt to systematically transfer the EMAIL/TEXT to the Job or Service Ticket.
ANOTHER KEY STEP for error-free services and products is, an additional PROMPT for employees to check for NEW SPECIFICATIONS on the Job/Service Ticket.
The truth is, just ONE MISSING STEP in the SYSTEM of producing jobs and services will cause a rash of unwanted communications and headaches, not to mention lost revenue!
Did I mention? Great Systems takes the mystery out of business!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.