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Written by Andy Sleet

One of the keys to business success is consistent delivery of our service or product. As our business grows and more people are involved in delivering customer ‘experience,' it’s important that we develop systems that record how we do things and that everyone follows the system.

This consistency is the cornerstone of great client retention. Variable service delivery is one sure way to confuse and disappoint our customers who then leave us. In fact, statistically it’s believed that more than two thirds of customers leaving us do so because of perceived indifference. This means that although we may care about them and what we do for them, they just don't feel it.

Systems can be the start of a downfall if left and not reviewed on an ongoing basis. Inadequate systems can lead to inefficiencies that leave a greater margin for error. Poor customer management, invoicing or ordering systems will not only stunt growth but could also cause problems for your business.

When systems are put in place they are fit for purpose at that point in time. The company’s systems need to be reviewed as the company develops and grows. Consider a high-street retailer that was started 60 years ago. It operated as many did then, with payments taken by cash or cheque. The systems were developed around:

  • Handling cash
  • Having plenty of change and a float in the tills
  • Banking with a provider that accepts large amounts of change being paid in
  • A large safe to keep the loot in

Now, things in this area have moved on significantly. Contactless payments, Apple Pay and paying via your phone number have become the norm. Over time, the system requirements have dramatically changed. We need to review our systems and change them to one that is more appropriate, or we risk losing sales because people carry less cash these days.

The rate of change in business is increasing rapidly. It used to be considered that if we were doing something the same as we were doing 10 years ago then we really should look at it. Now in some cases if we're doing things the same as we were just 6 months ago we need to do an urgent review.

One of the most important times to review is when the business moves up (or down) a level. For example, customer management may easily be handled on an Excel spreadsheet when we only have a handful of customers. But, as we grow and take on many more customers we may need to implement a more formal CRM system. Or, you may have found that previously you were able to find satisfactory employees by putting a sign in your window or a notice in the local shop, however now you need a professional recruiter to help you find a team with the right skills.

When considering a new system, take the time to think about the future. The more scalable and customisable the system is, the longer it will remain relevant. However, to do this review we need to have full understanding of our processes and why they are as they are. In many businesses when we ask why something is done that way, we often get the answer… that's the way I was shown, or we have always done it that way. If we truly have the understanding of why we do it, we can understand what needs to change.

For more on this read Chapter 7 of ‘The Levels’ book written by Ray Moore.

Listen to Andy Sleet and Ray Moore discuss this topic in more detail on The Fluid Business Podcast.


Check out the future of retail – Amazon Go uses advanced shopping technology and is currently being trialled in the USA.

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