Here’s how you know when to move on.

I ran call centers for many years. These are very protocol-driven business units. I hired people who were consistent, reliable, dependable, and quality-driven.

I always had the best teams, ever. I loved every one of my employees.

And sometimes, things were amiss. Unhappy customers. Unhappy clients. Miscommunications. It happens. And we had to ask: did we have a strategy issue, or an execution issue?

It was always – always! – an execution issue.

Often, the answer was that our well-developed, well-thought-out, well-vetted best practices were at times… not. After being at it for a few years, the incoming inquiries were getting more and more complex. Suddenly, our industry-leading SOP was found to be inadequate.

But how could that be? It always worked before! Nothing really changed!

Or had it?

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell, British Nobel laureate

This was our business challenge: do we have the courage to change what had so long been our “best practice” if indicators are telling us otherwise? When do you pivot?

When evaluating whether to move on, ask yourself two questions: 

  1. Does my desired outcome still stand, and

  2. Do these practices still get me closer to my desired outcome?

In this case, we absolutely wanted to remain the premier strategic service option for our clients and their customers. That desired outcome never changed. However, we had to revisit our deliberate plan to move away from our famed SOPs. 

Our SOPs changed from being about “what to do” to a simplified “what not to do” – which empowered employees to solve customer problems any way they could, as long as they didn’t violate certain basic guidelines. The rule of thumb was: Take care of it!

This did a few things: customer satisfaction went up, the turnaround time on getting things resolved was reduced, we learned a ton through trial and error which made us better, and our employee confidence went up.

It’s coming on 2018. Are there any practices that you have had for a long time that would be worth revisiting and moving on from? Would you consider NOT doing New Year’s resolutions and instead being more effective at previous attempts to achieve your desired outcomes? Let’s talk.

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