Clear Business Process + Strong Execution = Great Savings

Author: Stewart Clark / Date: March 31, 2015

Category: Business Performance

Regardless of whether you are selling burgers to a young family with three tired kids or producing “O” rings for the space program – there is always a cost when your process fails – it’s just the magnitude that varies.

For a minute, let’s consider the more trivial of these two examples and look at the world through the lens of a parent with three children under 10. It is a warm day, the kids have been running wild all morning and at 2pm, it’s going to be a late lunch.

You place your order at the local fast food store, being careful to articulate the correct meal for each child, noting one is without pickles, one without cheese and that the third will have a chocolate rather than a vanilla shake. The toys should reflect the fact that you have two boys and a girl and you will just have a diet cola, because let’s face it, there is little chance you would have a relaxed meal anyway.

Now consider each of these possible endings;

Scenario 1. 

  • You order is taken with hardly a murmur except for the “that will be $21.35 – eat in or take away?”
  • After watching no less than three people work on the delivery of parts of your order, you collect your tray of food and head to a clear table to find;
  • Your diary intolerant child is in a pickle, as all three burgers have cheese.
  • Your pickle free child is very happy, as all burgers are pickle free – but this smile turns to a frown when they find that there is no toy!
  • The thick-shakes are right – with the sizes and flavours delivered as requested, but…. your diet cola….. is only 2/3’s full.
  • This means a trip back to the counter, bearing the evil eye of other customers who are in line – to explain the discrepancies between what you ordered versus what was delivered, all the while trying to keep an eye on your three children who you left at the table.

Scenario 2.

  • Your order is read back to you to ensure that it was captured correctly – inclusive of the cheese and pickle variations. The cost is the same, but the “eat in or take away line” is accompanied with a smile and some eye contact.
  • Your order is assembled before you, but you are advised that one of the burgers will take another couple of minutes as it was incorrectly made with cheese. This news comes with the offer “to bring it out to you”, so you happily accept and head off for a table with the rest of the food, herding your kids as you go.
  • At the table the rest of the order is as expected, with the distraction of the toy meaning that the “cheese free” child did not even notice that their burger was delivered a few minutes late.
  • Your diet cola is cold and thirst quenching and you lap up the few minutes of unexpected peace whilst the kids are devouring their meals.

The difference between these two experiences was driven by either a poor operational process or a good process which was poorly applied. Either way, the difference in the customer experience was immense.

If the notion is correct that emotion and logic are the main drivers for purchasing decisions, then how do these situations stack up?

Scenario 1. Scenario 2.
Impersonal Friendly
Bewilderment (at the process) Appreciation
Frustration Relief
Apprehension Quality
Anger Contentment
Question the quality Confidence
Reputation damage Value


These lists are not exhaustive – but if this was your business and this was your client – I’m sure you want your clients thinking and feeling what is on list #2.

The consequence of a poor operational process can be extreme – from poor product quality to additional costs for rework or product replacement. Reputations can be quickly killed with a single large failure. Similarly, the impact of a good well executed process can drive levels of customer loyalty and positive sentiment that you could only dream of, along with hard efficiency savings to add straight to the bottom line.

So challenge yourself……assess your business operations.

1.Are your processes clear and well understood?

2.Are they correct and do they deliver the right results?

3.Are they as simple as they can be – or confusing and overly complex?

4.Are they being adhered to?

Test your business and remove the cost of poor processes – instead, positioning yourself to gain greater confidence in the eyes of your clients and grow a reputation of quality, confidence and value.