Last week I attended a presentation by a business systems specialist.
That's someone who builds systems and processes for businesses so they run smoothly.
The system of the day was "how to handle inbound phone calls."
So I'm thinking 2 things...
1) please kill me -- could this be more boring
2) what kind of moron needs a complete system for answering the phone.
Turns out, it was relatively interesting...and I'm probably the moron for thinking that a system wasn't needed. Here's why:
1. Creating the system forces you to think through the process and improve it.
The "simple" phone answering system addresses key questions including:
* What customer information should you collect when they call (e.g., name, email address, etc.)?
* Where should this information be inputted (e.g.., CRM database, forms)?
* What other questions should be asked to the customer?
* Under what circumstances should the customer be transferred to someone else? To whom should the caller be transferred under various situations?
* Should the call be answered by a live person or immediately go into a calling queue? If live, what hours should it be staffed?
* How many times should the phone ring before it goes to voicemail?
* What should the key voicemail prompts be (e.g., press 1 for sales)?
* What should the voicemail message(s) say?
* What message should the listener hear when waiting for either a live person or voicemail?
* What is your company's follow-up procedure for voice messages (e.g., who will return call and by what time)?
* What scripts will you use to make sure that customers get compelling and consistent answers to their questions?
In fact, these are just some of the questions that came up in building this system. As you can see, when you focus on this one activity, you are forced to really think through it and make the best decisions.
2. Having the system in place allows for improved and consistent performance.
One of the results of the system development process is creating flowcharts that show each piece of the system. These flowcharts are given to all the relevant employees and posted on their walls.
This allows all the employees to follow the proper procedures, giving your company consistent, high-quality performance on the relevant tasks.
3. Having the system in place allows you to quickly integrate new hires into your business.
Likewise, the system and flowcharts make it very easy for new hires to see their place and roles within the organization and hit the ground running.
4. Having the system in place allows you to easily come up with and implement new ideas.
Once you have the system flowchart, it's very easy to come up with new ideas. Ideas like "What if we bypass this activity and go straight to this?" become common.
And implementing these ideas is simple since you can easily pinpoint which elements in the flowchart are affected.
5. Having the system allows you the entrepreneur/manager/owner/etc. to 1) take more time off, and/or 2) spend more time on higher value-add activities.
Creating systems is classic "working on" versus "working in" your business. Once the systems are created and in place, the activities are performed nearly on auto-pilot. You don't have to waste time and energy in performing and/or actively managing them.
6. Having systems dramatically increases the equity value of your business.
Once your company has lots of systems in place, it instantly becomes much more valuable to an acquirer. That's because the acquirer knows your business will run smoothly after acquisition. They also know that new hires can quickly be added into the system so they can expand your business. Further, the systems you developed could help the acquirer expand their own business.
So, you need to start thinking about every key aspect of your business as a system. For example, do you have a system for your internet marketing? Do you have landing pages designed to maximize conversions? Do you have a system to test these pages frequently? Do you have follow-up email campaigns in place based on actions customers take online? Etc.
And do you have sales systems? Do you have an established process to handle new leads? To build rapport? Etc.
And what about HR systems, and production systems, etc.
While building systems takes time and often does not put immediately cash in your pocket, the 6 key benefits above will pay for themselves over and over again and are definitely worth doing. So start systematizing your business today.