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Where to measure your “cinnamon”? : Looking for customer interfaces within your business.

For any folks out there who have followed my previous posts, this is a follow-on discussion on where to measure and then analyze the appropriate “cinnamon” issues within your organization. For all newcomers, this is not a cooking/baking post. Rather we refer to small items within our organization, usually at customer interfaces, that have the potential to become large issues with significant negative implications. So….with that said, where do you measure customer interfaces in your organization?

The key is first to identify where customer interfaces are within your business. Sound simple? It might be if you produce a product or sell something. Those customer interfaces might be obvious, at the sales point. The key though is to understand the more subtle customer interfaces that might be secondary in your business. I am sure your employees at the sales point are gregarious, cordial, entertaining, etc. However, how is the interface at tech support? Will your customers be buying follow-on products from you? Will they be rating you positively on social media? How is the interface with your secretarial staff when folks want to set up a meeting? Do teaming partners have a positive experience and want to do business with you? How is the interface with your recruiting department? How about with your accounts payable department? These all matter and are where you will find those “cinnamon” issues.

Attracting and retaining high quality talent in an organization is key to the success of any organization. There is nothing that will cause you to fail in attracting and retaining talent to your organization faster than non-responsive, or worse, unprofessional recruiting department or HR department. We all have been there at one time or another. You are looking for a job change and you try as hard as you can to provide all requested documents on time with no errors and you are treated in return with silence or improperly prepared documents, or missed deadlines, etc. For me, I assume positive intent on the first mistake. On the second time, I usually politely part ways and move on to somewhere that shares my passion for excellence. Have you ever wondered what happened to that really sharp candidate? “They seemed so great in that first interview but then they ended up taking another job somewhere else, for your competitor.” Did you ever follow-up with your recruiter to see where, how, why you could not attract the candidate?

I actually had a large corporation recruiter reach out to me on LinkedIn because a company vice president had come across my profile and wanted to talk to me about an opportunity. It is not unusual to get such inquiries in today’s world of social media and networking sites. I responded to the recruiter within 12 hours of their request. I then heard nothing for 3 months. Out of the blue the recruiter reached back out to me and wanted to know if I was still interested in the opportunity. I politely told them that 3 months ago I was interested, however, now I was too busy to take the interview. I wonder if the company VP ever got briefed on what really happened. Do you think that recruiter has ever been told that they have two customers, the hiring manager and the candidate, and that treating any customer poorly could negatively impact the performance of the organization?

How about the interface with your accounts payable department? How do your suppliers and sub-contractors feel about their experience getting paid? Do you ever wonder why that really high performing subcontractor stopped answering your phone calls? Did you ever evaluate the invoicing and payment process? Did you ever ask why it took greater than 30 days for his/her invoices to get paid? Did you ever ask what their experience was like when they dealt with your company representatives? More importantly, did you ever take the time to explain to your accounts payable department that they were extremely important to the success of your company. Do they understand that they have two customers, the company and your subcontractors/suppliers?

Every organization, whether it is a for-profit multi-national organization, a federal entity, or a charity, has customer interfaces. Some of these are external like I mention above. Others are internal like the recruiter with the hiring manager or accounts payable and the account manager. Instilling in your employees the concept that they have bosses and customers. Your employees need to realize/execute the vision/strategy of their seniors but they need to fulfill the needs of their customers. This is very important distinction. Too often, employees treat their internal customers poorly because they don’t report to their internal customers. How do you think that impacts how your business operates? Do you think that is an efficient way of doing business?

Think about the recruiter/hiring manager interface. If the recruiter just wants to show his/her senior that they have filled personnel requisitions, they can perform at the minimum acceptable level to attract the minimally acceptable candidates and make their requisition fulfillment goals. The senior then just sees requisitions being filled and thinks all is well. Instead, think about if the recruiters work aggressively with hiring managers to attract the highest quality talent by going above and beyond in communications with external customers (candidates) and internal customers (hiring managers). The only way to ensure this efficient/effective way of doing business is occurring is if you know where to “measure your cinnamon.”

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