Improving SME processes

When you are trying to grow your SME business, looking to build good relationships with suppliers and customers and deliver products and services which will resonate in the marketplace, the last thing you need is for members of your team to depart for pastures new. Every person that leaves takes with them a valuable knowledge base and skill set. Not only that, with the average cost of replacement being estimated at between 16% and 20% of annual salary, every departing employee represents a cost which growing businesses can ill afford.

Why do people leave? Well, sometimes a departure is unavoidable with people moving on for family or other reasons but that isn’t always the case. Rather worryingly, a January 2019 report by Process Bliss has revealed that 43% of SME employees have changed jobs simply because their managers have not addressed work-related stresses or frustrations. Equally of concern is the fact that 31% of employees don’t feel that they are trusted; with practices such as micromanaging and unnecessary chasing indicating that some leadership development training may be a good thing.

Aside from the challenge of leadership, even something as simple as the management of internal processes and controls can lead to a sense of stress and frustration. 63% of those surveyed admitted that they were not clear about their company’s internal processes whilst 43% said they were aware that their company had lost customers due to failed processes.

Statistics such as these clearly indicate the importance of employee training which goes beyond simply task-based learning. When employees have more holistic view of the company and its processes, they are more able to appreciate the part which they have to play in delivering the strategy. More importantly, providing a holistic viewpoint can highlight processes which could do with being tweaked or revised in order to deliver optimal outcomes for the company and its customers.

Take something as simple as telephone answering pathways for example. It is quite conceivable that in a small business with few employees telephone calls could easily be answered by anyone who is free. However, as the business grows and people’s job titles and level of knowledge become more specialised, that free-for-all answering system may start to result in callers being passed around individuals or departments. This could easily lead to delay and frustration at best, loss of customers at worst.

One answer could be to look towards installing a company switchboard which would help to speed up the answering and transfer of calls. Giving callers the option to ‘press one for accounts, press two for sales’ and so on can help in this but so too can the deployment of caller select modules. This means that calls from specified numbers or regions will be automatically transferred to a designated individual or team. For example, calls from recognised suppliers could automatically be switched to the purchasing department whilst known customer calls are transferred to their designated contact.

Another benefit of caller select is the option to block certain calls. For example, the business may decide to block calls from overseas, or calls in which the number has been withheld, or even to block calls from individual designated telephone numbers.

Smoothing out telephone answering may seem a minor challenge in the scheme of things. But if it helps to reduce employee frustration and improve customer service then it could deliver a long-term benefit for the business.

Written by Alison