When you are running a business, it is essential that everyone involved is both aware of, and aligned to, the objectives of the company. If they aren’t, you can never expect to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.
When writing a business plan all sorts of topics are discussed including all the usual suspects of sales, marketing, expenditure requirements and so on. What isn’t always discussed is priorities and culture.
Setting clear priorities for day-to-day business, ensuring these are communicated and perhaps just as importantly, stuck to, is critical to driving culture throughout the company and supply chain.
So how should an ISP establish priorities? At Call27 we discussed this at length at a board meeting and challenged each other hard to ensure the priorities that ultimately become the company DNA are the right ones to achieve our goals. Each of these is listed and discussed below; perhaps from a pure business perspective, sales being priority three out of four looks counter-intuitive, but let me explain our reasons…
Priority One: Customer support issues and network risks
Anyone familiar with the Brothers Grimm tales will know the one about the Golden Goose and it really is that simple.
I read an excellent book a few years ago called ‘The Customer is King’ with a forward from Sir Richard Branson, aside from the content, the title alone has stuck with me ever since, and has replaced the adage that ‘the customer is always right’.
In the culture of Call27 then, we established that the customer is king, no matter what. This means that regardless of what else may need to be done to keep the network running or generate new sales, nothing, and I do mean nothing comes above ensuring any customer with a support issue is dealt with first. It’s the first topic we discuss at our daily operations meeting, and everyone in the company knows that above all else, customer expectations are there to be met.
This top priority also extends to network risks that are causing or have the potential to cause a service disruption in addition to live support tickets. Here at Call27 we help many businesses and home users, and we know that our services are critical to our customer’s businesses and their lives. It could be as simple as someone’s email being offline, which is easy to resolve, but it must be fixed as soon as possible so there is no impact to them.
Priority Two: Non-urgent network risks
We pro-actively identify network and system risks through our daily Network and System Health Check and which without action, could potentially lead to a service disruption.
Problems happen, that’s a fact of life in any organisation or individual’s life; that’s not what is important – it’s how you deal with them that matters.
This priority seamlessly ties back to Priority One, to ensure that customer service is not interrupted and that expectations are met. We want to be a company that people want to do business with and by making sure that we deliver on our promises I am confident that we are.
There are other less tangible benefits to a reliable network and happy customers. By moving from being reactive to proactive, so much as possible, the stress and workload on an organisation is dramatically reduced, resulting in a far greater capacity to perform efficiently and to deal with problems when they do occur.
Priority Three: Sales
There will be those of you out there that think this looks out of place, and it did to us at first. Businesses need new sales firstly to survive and secondly to grow. The objective of companies (or most anyway) in the purest sense is to generate a profit. That is universally accepted.
So should sales not be the number one priority of a business? Absolutely not, it’s a business critical process for sure, but there is little point in trying to generate new revenue if you cannot meet the expectations of your current customers.
Doing so potentially puts more strain on a business’s resources if you are not already delivering to your current clients or your business management processes are not sufficient and robust for your business it will only build further problems.
Priority Four: Any Other Business
A business generates tens to thousands of actions a day. Where these are business critical or present a risk, they need to be logged and tracked. Because these can cover every single business process we generically referred to them as ‘AoB’. This can cover anything at all do to with the business not covered above; our process for dealing with this is to log each of them on an action tracker, assign an accountable person and then a due date.
In reality, in a well-functioning ‘Highly Reliable Organisation’ with functioning systems and adequate resources, none of these four priorities should need to compete because they are all business critical; without existing customers, there is no cash flow, without new customers, there is no growth so they aren’t mutually, exclusive.
On a day to day basis actions to be addressed must be risk-based and this represents the essence of the latest ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard. So we went one step further after establishing priorities, we went on to develop our Business Risk Matrix which aligns priority with risk, and that will be a topic for a future blog.
For now though, and for evermore, the customer is King.