Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with poor services by a department within your company or a vendor when you need to resolve a problem or find information on a timely basis. However, what is even worse than the poor services is having that troubled group in complete denial about their poor services.
The building industry is on fire with strong sales despite these troubled times, thank God. Yet TDC has witnessed too many companies in stagnation for their growth. It matters not if your company is a manufacturer of components, modular units, equipment, or software, if your group is not busting at the seams in the building industry with new growth and opportunities, the market is telling your company it has underlying problem areas that need to be resolved. In other words, your company has poor services or product offerings and is more than likely in denial of these problem areas.
We all make the mistake thinking that our own perception clearly defines what our reality is. However, your perception needs to match what your customers perceive it to be, not yours, to understand what they perceive the reality of your services truly are. Per Psychology Today’s Jim Taylor Ph.D.: “Perception acts as a lens through which we view reality. Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality. In doing so, our tendency is to assume that how we perceive reality is an accurate representation of what reality truly is. But it’s not. The problem is that the lens through which we perceive is often warped in the first place by our genetic predispositions, past experiences, prior knowledge, emotions, preconceived notions, self-interest, and cognitive distortions. (Source for quote: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201908/perception-is-not-reality)
If a company is not measuring service performance, how do they know the quality of services? And yes, you can measure service quality. TDC has learned through almost two decades of consulting services that, if a company is only relying on internal service evaluations instead of customer responses, the company should consider the results almost meaningless. Too many deceive themselves of their presumed superior performance compared to their competition.
A simple yet excellent example of poor service is when a salesperson requests a timely return of a project quote, and he/she is told “sometime in a week or so” by the design staff. Seriously, “in a week or so” is an acceptable answer to any sales team or the customer? Every design group and every other department should have an accurate and dependable capacity schedule that is reliable to within a day. Of course, another more glaring example is doing business with a vendor that consistently has problems with a timely response to your requests for equipment parts, technical support, or products to meet your needs. TDC can certainly attest that not all vendors are created equal based on their customer’s statements.
Four main categories can sum up the major causes of poor performing services:
- Leadership and Empowerment
- Resource Allocation
- Knowledge and Skillset
- Communications for Project Control
A company should always openly discuss problem areas and address them head-on, but too many companies consistently play the whack-a-mole game of putting out fires. Poorly trained managers focus on individual behavior instead of the process that allowed the error to occur in the first place. If a company or department has reoccurring problems, the process and the tools they are using need to be fixed, enhanced, or replaced, not the people trying to function in the poorly designed system.
Sadly, too many poorly performing companies are being governed by bean counters instead of leaders who understand real growth takes a lot of investments. They have the habitual habit of short-term cost cutting measures which will sacrifice long-term growth gains. If a company’s support groups, such as technical and mechanical, are not sufficiently supported with proper budgets and managed well, the entire company takes negative reputation knocks one right after another from their customers who are having to cope with the company’s poor performing support. TDC listens to too many clients complaining about the poorly supported groups from vendors they rely on to do their business. Too often supports groups, like IT, have a line item in the budget that is too low, and because of historical evidence of always being at the lower numbers, upper management is blinded to these critical need areas requiring greater funds.
Most employees within the poorly functioning areas know they have problems, but they prefer to play the game of willful blindness to their problem areas. Did you know that studies have proven that willful blindness in organizations around the world has a prevailing rate of at least 85%? The number one barrier to resolving the problem is that people feel, and more than likely are, powerless to make the needed changes to improve their given area. The reason they feel powerless is that they are being blocked to making the changes needed because of the company’s bureaucracy and power structure, or they do not possess the knowledge and skills to fix the problem themselves. Empowering the group(s) is an executive issue, but if your group(s) has knowledge deficits for improving the processes, why not look outside your company for assistance to provide the much-needed training to solve those problem areas?
The proper oversight and understanding of how well a service group is performing can be resolved by using the proper communication and project management tools. TDC cannot emphasize enough that you should implement an excellent customer relationship management (CRM) and project management application. Only then can a department manager truly know how well their group is performing with a clear record of response time, customer’s needs, all of the communication records for every project, and then all of it combined with the means for proper management oversight, such as capacity scheduling. Interestingly this type of CRM and project management application should be the bridge between the accounting software and other applications, such as CAD and all other standard department software for every department within a company. For more about better communications and project management, see my recent article: Small Investments Can Garner Huge Gains for Productivity for Your Sales Team.
Change that usually takes months and years can be accomplished in weeks and months with TDC’s assistance. TDC is your best source for learning about proven and practical lean manufacturing best practices combined with industrial engineering principles to keep your company at the leading edge of competitiveness. The implementation of the suggestions produces an average gain of three to six points in net profits. With over 30 years of experience, TDC has proven real-world expertise that goes far beyond what many expect. Included in TDC’s services are wood truss labor time standards (Man-minutes, R.E. or S.U.) that have been refined over almost two decades and used in over a hundred different companies. Many save tens of thousands of dollars by trusting TDC for unbiased vendor and equipment recommendations because TDC does not receive referral fees from any equipment or plate vendors, which are formed only by customer experiences. Please don’t take my word about TDC’s services, though. Read the public testimonials many current and past clients with decades of expertise and experience have been willing to give: https://todd-drummond.com/testimonials/.
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