Just yesterday I had a very interesting discussion with a new acquaintance (let’s call her Jeanette) who works at the care centre of the country’s only power supply company. She was decrying top management country wide and appealing to them to work out the math and figure out what it takes to provide excellent and timely service.
She was lamenting about the fact that the ratio of technical people to the actual jobs on the ground is disproportionate and vertically skewed. The number of technical people sent out to fix lines, repair transformers, re-plug technical components to reverse outages and fix faults were significantly few in comparison to the daily job list. The ratio of technicians to jobs on the daily assignment sheet was on average 1:20, where one technician was expected to run around different locations working through the assigned list. The technicians when consulted, state quite candidly the stark improbability of completing the tasks within the shift period. Not to mention that during the assignment period, more jobs would pop up requiring attention based on urgency and prioritization, further distorting the list.
“Dialogue is absent.” She bemoaned. “The solutions are here with the people. We know exactly what needs to be done to improve service.” She further contended. The management had recently proposed to increase the number of call center agents to better handle the increasing flood of customer complaints. “We do not need more agents, we need more foot soldiers running around handling customer issues. The calls will go down, the technicians will be more empowered as they will manage to complete tasks assigned and customers will be happy.” She shared the frustration felt by the call center team and technical team given the daily end of day reports on incomplete assignments.
Her sharing brings to light what many a corporate fail to take up – inward consultant and inwardly seeking solutions. Many invest in hiring consultants and carrying out all manner of ‘analyses’ and yet the solutions lie with the people. The staff on the ground who are in constant contact with the brand and its operations, who continually face the wrath of unhappy customers and who interact with the product or service processes intimately are best placed to advise on what to do to turn things around.
Right there are the ‘consultants’. Consult them. Consult them widely and constantly. Encourage ideas. Reward them even. Staff will be ready, willing and happy to suggest ways to improve operations and to increase efficiency. They will propose solutions for problems both real and anticipated. And if an environment where ideas are encouraged and acknowledged is created, then the motivation to resolve issues will be high. Man’s greatest need is the need to feel appreciated. The need to feel listened to, felt and heard. And if staff have an open channel to express ideas and provide recommendations for improvement, the service turnaround is guaranteed.
So back to Jeanette’s cry…….. If only management would take a walk on the proverbial shop floor and talk to the ‘people’ and spend some time listening, they would find out that what it actually takes to resolve their ever growing problems and increasing customer aversion to them with a call to end the monopoly, isn’t as complicated as they imagine. No earth shattering, bank breaking, organization restructuring solution is required. No. Not at all. Just more technicians. Simple…….
And just as with life, we need to embrace the philosophy that things are never that serious……… they’re just as simple as we make them.