Many organizations fail to outline and document procedures when it comes to producing products, handling service concerns, or guiding their customers along their buyer’s journey. Without these documented procedures, employees are forced to start from scratch every single time, leading to wasted time, energy, and money — along with stress on your team and customer frustration.
The good news is that with a little preparation, this problem is easily remedied. There’s a way to make your employees’ lives easier and customers happy — all while differentiating yourself from the competition. It’s called “process strategy,” and every organization should have it on their books.
What is process strategy?
Process strategy is the documentation and establishment of the processes that an organization puts in place to achieve its goals.
Several processes could run on autopilot, removing the need for in-the-moment decisions, escalation to management, and — in some cases — human involvement altogether. Process Strategy can be seen throughout every department in a successful organization, whether it be sales, production, operations management, customer service, or retention.
Examples of Process Strategy
Consider what your sales team does when it receives a lead. Do your reps contact the potential customer immediately? Is it by phone? Is it by email? Once they’ve made a connection, do they ask questions to understand the potential customer’s needs? While each salesperson may handle conversations a bit differently, a uniform process can improve their performance.
A typical sales process usually includes five to seven steps — those are usually prospecting, preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing, and follow-up. A documented process will make life considerably easier and more efficient for your sales org. They’ll spend less time chasing squirrels and more time closing deals.
Let’s look at a production scenario that we’ve probably all found ourselves in — a fast-casual restaurant like Chipotle or Blaze Pizza. When you step into one of these eateries, you’ll be greeted by an assembly line of employees waiting to fill your order.
You’ll walk from one station to the next as they prep your base, add a protein, toss on toppings, and then ring you up while trying to upsell with drinks and dessert. These restaurants have their process strategy down. If they didn’t, you’d see employees tripping over one another and you’d be lucky to get out of there with your meal in tow.
When it comes to customer service, a strong process strategy makes for happy customers. When the process is done right, a customer calls in with an issue, is quickly directed to the right department, and sees their issue resolved in a timely fashion.
A poor process strategy in customer service can lead to an angry ex-customer who was transferred from one department to another and forced to repeat their problem for each new associate until they finally gave up and decided to take their business elsewhere.
A process-focused company will take the time to find the cracks in their organization and determine what can be done to make every activity they engage in smoother and more efficient. These are the companies that will beat out their competition and create customer and employee loyalty.
Benefits of Process Strategy in Operations Management
When it comes to operations management, an organization’s focus must be on the most efficient way to produce products and deliver services. Its concern is with every step of development from conceptualization to delivery. Can you imagine a better place to incorporate process strategy in an organization?
The benefits include:
- Improved Efficiency — Having a solid process strategy will help your employees complete their jobs in less time and with better results. Having processes laid out makes everything from product creation to service delivery run like clockwork.
- Decreased Cost — When your processes are not yet dialed in, time and materials are often wasted. Once you’ve got a steady process strategy for all employees to follow, the cost to produce a product or provide a service actually decreases leaving more of a profit margin.
- Increased Output — A process strategy provides the opportunity for you to increase production to create more of whatever it is you make, spending less time on each step of service provided. As less time is needed to create a deliverable, more deliverables can be created.
- Consistent Quality — Without a process strategy, quality is up to the whim of an individual employee and can vary greatly from one person to the next. But your customers are expecting to see the same quality every time — no matter who is creating or providing for them. Creating a "no-brainer" process strategy takes the guesswork and individual differences out of production.
Regardless of your industry or offering, process strategy is a way to increase your profits while making your employees and customers happier. It might be tedious and labor-intensive to devise and document your processes, but the time spent is well worth it in the long run.
Keep in mind that process strategy is ongoing. You'll want to consistently re-evaluate your process and determine if changes need to be made. No process is set in stone, and necessary tweaks will become evident the more you put these processes into place. But this is a sign of success — your organization is getting better every step of the way.