One Thing I’ve Learned About…Simplicity

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by Jim Johnson

Over the past few months, I’ve developed and introduced a new initiative to my team. I lead a great team who is responsible for: a call center, eServices (online/phone lending), fraud, card admin, deposit operations, online account opening, etc.). We are calling this initiative the “Challenge to Change”.

What I wanted to do was to show the team how they can impact our bottom line (we call that our Measures that Matter) by adding something to their daily habits/routines. I didn’t want them to stop doing what they should be doing. No, I wanted them to add a simple step – a simple addition that could have significance in hitting our corporate goals.

Our call center, for instance, handles hundreds of calls every day. This team is effective in handling a wide variety of issues. They have been asked to view the customer’s financial profile and determine if this person has a full relationship with us (we are a credit union). Once they look at the profile, they are to ask themselves: “what’s missing?” Even if they see that more than one thing is missing, we have kept it simple. PICK ONE. Then talk about it.

We have created a list of “conversation starters” that assist the call center rep to begin a conversation that will lead to a deeper relationship with us. We are using current technology tools to log this interaction. Our technology can be viewed by anyone in the company and will keep the conversation momentum moving as the customer is in the deciding stage (we don’t assume that the sale will be made on the first attempt – it will take multiple interactions).

Here’s what I’ve learned while developing this initiative:

1. Know what my team is already doing. I spent significant time with team members asking them to show me what they look at when beginning an interaction with a customer. I had them explain (when necessary) what they could see/know from the data available on our core system. I gained valuable information with this step.

2. Understand their routine. Everyone approaches the same job in different ways. I had to discover how my team works. Some take short cuts. Others don’t. Some know their technology tools well. Others? Not so much. But I had to spend time with the team to know what they know and do.

3. Keep it simple. I knew that if I wanted to introduce a new habit, I couldn’t turn their work world upside down. Knowing my team and understanding their routine helped me know when and where to introduce change. It helped me to keep this process simple.

The new process only adds one step in their routine. One step. That’s it.

4. Communicate. I met with my call center 3-4 people at a time. I’m a word-picture guy. I drew charts, pictures, and graphs to lay-out what they do and where the change was going to happen. I asked a lot of questions and listened. I asked for feedback and got it. I made changes to the process based on the feedback. It was critical that we were all on the same page.

We are planning to launch this initiative this month. We have some testing to do with our current technology. We believe it will work and be a great “leading indicator” of our monthly corporate goals. It will drive more business to our branches. It will keep the relationship conversation going.

We didn’t build a complex machine to do this. We’re keeping it simple. We’ll be inspecting what we expect and encourage development and growth as we launch.

Change isn’t always easy. But keeping things simple, understanding the team’s work and process helps change happen.

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