SSG Case Study: Discover how a billion-dollar organization improved its scalability and regained the joy of its mission.
Companies rarely experience 30% growth year over year, but that's precisely what was happening for one organization I worked with. Each year output for the production department increased nearly 30%. And each year, the company struggled to handle the flow of that much activity. The resulting struggle created significant conflicts in the organization: organization: criticism from customer-facing teams, demand for more operational staff, and many, many customer complaints. It was an untenable situation for a billion-dollar organization.
Unraveling a Mess
When I peeked under the hood, I found a tangled mess. The team had manual processes that were unmanageable in every way. Every day, they manually printed out that day's work and used different colored highlighters to track where something was in the process. Assignments might remain on the list for days. Customers would call in, and no one could respond for hours because someone had to track down the daily list, figure out who had that particular assignment, and then find that person to ask where it was in the process. If someone was out sick, no one could follow up on their work or help a customer track down a request. During the busy season, the nightmare would last for six long weeks of exhausting overtime creating significant overwhelm and stress during the holiday season.
Solving the problem wasn't easy. We mapped out the entire process covering two significant lines of activity with at least 100 steps each. Then we talked through each step with the team and identified ways to streamline the work.
Phase 1: A Better Way to Divide Up Work
The ultimate solution occurred in phases. The first phase involved creating a systematic workflow where Salesforce placed customer requests in a queue where the team and managers could track them. It also gave visibility to customer-facing teams who could now see where a particular request was in the process. This system eliminated the need for three people to spend an hour a day dividing up their work. It also improved staff relationships and improved customer service. That was an excellent win for the team!
Phase 2: Improving Focus and Eliminating Waste
The next phase involved automating another manual process. Each day, the entire production team would pause all customer requests for another hour while 5-7 people prepared hundreds of documents to be sent out via mail. These documents had to be folded, stuffed into envelopes, and individually sealed and stamped, resulting in six to seven hours of wasted staff time per day. While the team enjoyed their conversations during this break in their day, the inefficiency was horrific for managers. We streamlined this process by purchasing a machine that allowed one person to handle that job independently for only one hour per day. We gained back nearly six hours per day in staff time – 30 hours per week – 1,560 hours in a year.
Phase 3: Automating Routine Steps
Finally, the company embarked on a two-year journey to improve its customer experience. As part of this project, we identified ways to eliminate unnecessary touches and automate where possible. Customer input was streamlined, which eliminated specific approval steps. This improvement meant employees no longer had to check each request. Now, they only had to address truly unusual requests. We also increased customer visibility into the status of their request. Through this effort, my team and I not only streamlined operations, but we also significantly reduced phone calls, made customers much happier, improved relationships with customer-facing teams, eliminated the need for new hires, and best of all, reduced overwhelm during the busy holiday season. It made my day when staff told me they enjoyed Christmas the year it launched. Within one year of launch, the company reached new milestones in their service to customers, and it was well equipped to go to new and higher levels of service over the next 3 years.
Improve the Scalability of Your Organization or Small Business
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