When faced with a large problem, or several problems, managers can be tempted to think that changing everything will fix everything. They believe sales will rise if only they fire the entire staff, completely change the product line, and/or outsource customer service. Dramatic changes often cause a bad situation to further deteriorate, alienate frontline workers, further frustrate management, and leave customers dissatisfied until the dust settles.
When you begin to examine any problem — lagging sales, customer complaints, product quality issues, poor interdepartmental communication —try to narrow the problem down and pinpoint one area you could change that might yield the best result before you take drastic action. If sales are lagging, is the issue a marketing issue, a sales issue, a product issue, or a service issue?
If you determine a dip in sales is a result of poor customer service, is there a particular part of the service process that is harming sales — lack of skills (or one particular skill) in your service department, a company procedure that blocks quick resolution to problems, or insufficient reserve of replacement parts, for example? Narrow down the issue further, and ask if there is one particular skill on which you could refocus training; one procedure that, if changed, would lead to quick problem resolution and happier customers; one inventory item that you cannot afford to be without?
More often than not, small, precise changes can yield better results for both the short- and long-term, causing less collateral damage. Small changes may better enable you to boost poor performance, retain quality staff, improve customer satisfaction, and boost sales. To find the key element to change, you must eschew the quick fix or major overhaul, assess the problem carefully, determine and weigh your alternatives, and take corrective measures.
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