Brampton - An old adage says you can make some of the people happy some of the time but you can't make all of the people happy all of the time. Does that work for you as a leader? I would suggest it would not. After all, the goal of every leader is to ensure their customers are happy all the time. However, getting to that utopian point is another matter altogether.
Let's assume for sake of argument that you have instilled in your staff a focus on making sure that invoices are submitted to clients promptly. This will definitely support your desire for a positive cash flow. It will present to the customer an image of a firm that is on top of things. The work is done to the client's satisfaction; therefore we assume they must be happy.
What about the concept of invoice accuracy. Errors in the invoicing process can result in the firm being placed in a poor light with the customer. Whose responsibility is it to see that the invoices are in an accurate manner? Yours as the leader of course.
By placing focus on just getting the invoices out the door you may have provided a false performance measurement. The measurement should include accuracy as well. By taking a bit more time, staff can ensure that invoices sent are accurate. Surely another hour or two in invoice checking would not negatively impact your customer satisfaction level.
Recently I experienced two separate scenarios where the service provided by a firm was even more than expected. My thoughts immediately ran to promoting the firm to others and making sure they received my business in the future.
Unfortunately both firms overcharged on their invoices. When contacted both firms agreed to correct the situation and provide a refund of the overpayment.
Both firms had a receivables officer focused on getting bills out, not processing refunds.Both refunds took in excess of 30 days. In both instances the issue was brought to the attention of the leader of the firm.
What is the leader's role in these situations? First, take responsibility for the error on behalf of the company.Second, make every effort to refund the overpayment promptly.
Here the leaders had an opportunity to turn an error into a WOW. A verbal or written apology plus a prompt refund was all that was needed. Both leaders lost this opportunity.
As a leader you might ask:
- Could this could have been you and your firm?
- Are you made aware of issues raised by customers about over charges?
If so, you are a leader who is leading by example. If not, what example do you believe you are setting? Will the rest of the firm take their lead from you?
- Do you have an efficient process in place to adjust those errors and issue apologies to the clients?
Gordon J. H. Newman, CPTGordon is President of The Newman Learning Group Inc. an organization dedicated to providing value add solutions to improve the bottom line performance of organization and individuals. Gordon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-790-2944