By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
Help Your Employees Love Their Jobs to a Profitable End
I recently spoke to a client about his anticipated return-to-work. As a VP at his company, he was working 60-70 hours a week prior to the shutdown. He’s really enjoyed working from home—interruptions have been minimal, he’s getting more work done, and it’s been nice to not have to get dressed for the office every day, like this guy hilariously demonstrates.
Now that my client is back in the office, he’s not only facing the same old challenges, but a whole new set as well. And with things changing every day, it will continue to be like that for a while—for a lot of us.
With so much uncertainty these days:
Here are four things you can do to help with that:
1. Create Clear Connections
Most people crave a sense of belonging and want to make a difference. Employees that see a direct linkage between what they do and how it impacts the organization, and society in general, are going to be more inspired and productive.
Companies that can step back from their everyday way of doing business to assess how they can make clear connections between individuals, their jobs and the organizational purpose/mission will most often come out ahead.
2. Expand Workforce Development Efforts
A lot of organizations have been guilty of just placing workers in roles based on what they’ve always done in the past, because it’s a tried-and-true approach. Many of these employees feel pigeon-holed and frustrated by this. Countless employees are capable of so much more!
Organizations now have an opportunity to re-evaluate how they encourage and offer more opportunities for employees to fulfill their potential. This is not the time to pull back on workforce development efforts! Companies that encourage employees to fulfill their potential have a greater chance of building a more resilient workforce that can more effectively weather difficult times like we’ve been experiencing.
3. Maximize the Relationship between Employees and Technology
COVID-19 has challenged the idea that machines can completely replace humans. Just look at the evidence of non-essential, robotic-based factories being shuttered for weeks on end! Interactions between workers and machines are so much more powerful together than on their own.
Organizations that embrace the idea of finding ways to integrate teams of employees and technologies will be the most successful in the long run. They’ll not only be able to streamline costs, but provide greater meaning for the workforce.
4. Leverage the Power of Knowledge Management
During this crisis, people’s hunger for information on the pandemic reached epic proportions. Could there be a way to carry over a thirst for knowledge and translate it to running a business more effectively?
The answer is “yes”. Companies can encourage a culture where knowledge sharing and creation becomes an everyday occurrence. That way, when a valuable employee walks out the door, all the knowledge he has accumulated in his or her brain doesn’t walk out with them.
If you want to grow in any of these areas, I would love to help! The areas I’m really focusing on right now are People/Technology Integration and Knowledge Management. I’m becoming more fascinated with ensuring a more seamless experience between the two, with an emphasis on IT systems and Artificial Intelligence.
And I’ve partnered with someone to help with that!
In my previous LinkedIn article about Accelerate, Michael Cantu’ talked a little bit about this. And I’m excited to announce that we’re partnering to help companies who want to prepare their organizations for success—to streamline and automate their business processes as a means to increase efficiency and profitability.
If you’re interested in learning more about preparing your business for the future, we’d love to have a chat with you! Click here to schedule a 1:1 discussion.
By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
How many of you have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and maybe aren't making the greatest progress as you'd like these days?
How many feel like you're slogging through the mud some days?
It's not surprising at all--this pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop!
I know it's been a challenge for me. My cup is overflowing with juggling client work and just "taking care of business." In fact, for that very reason, I haven't made the progress I'd like on my next email series.
While I dream that up, I still want to share with you some valuable content. So today I was on the lookout for something I could quickly grab to include in this newsletter. And there it was...a graphic on how to make more progress. Boy, did that really hit home! I thought I’d share it with you, since it really spoke to me.
I looked over the list to see the things I was already doing. Here's just a few:
Here’s what I plan to do more of:
How about you? Did this graphic speak to you? Is there anything on this list you'd like to tackle?
I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to comment with your answers!
By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
A Four-Part Series: Part 4
How many of you, working remotely for the first time, are encountering a lot of challenges?
How many of you frequently have not had what you’ve needed at your fingertips?
How many of you are wishing for a day at the beach instead?
If you’ve been like a lot of people, you had to email multiple people for multiple reasons instead of running down the hall to talk to them. Or you needed something signed, had to scan the document, upload it and send it off. Or you may have experienced all of the above, multiple times!
Well, I’ve got a treat for you! I recently interviewed Michael Cantu’ of Accelerate about a cost-effective solution, his Accelerate platform that makes remote working a much easier, more productive process.
Using it may not compare to a day at the beach, but it could prove more enjoyable than your status quo!
And for those of you who don’t know, I’m a Principal Process Consultant with Accelerate. I offer Accelerate solutions as part of my service offerings for my own business. So I’m really looking forward to sharing with you the good things Accelerate can do for your business!
Now, onto the interview…
Kathy: thanks for joining me, Michael. First of all, what is Accelerate software?
Michael: It’s workflow management software that connects disparate systems, people, data, content, and workloads together to Accelerate your workforce. It streamlines your work, enabling you to have at your fingertips what you need to do your job so you can do it more effectively and efficiently.
Kathy: That sounds like it would be something really good to have right now during this pandemic, especially with so many employees having to work remotely! And I know there are great benefits to this software. What would you say are the top four?
Michael: the first I would say is...
1. Increased Productivity
A lot of people these days are working in siloed IT systems that don't communicate well with each other, and are expensive and costly to integrate together. So what we’ve focused on is creating a system and platform that easily connects to other systems.
Here’s a good example: Many new employees not only have the big challenge of learning how to do your job, they also must learn all the different systems and remember different login credentials. And then, most people are working out of their email. What we’ve done is connect these all together, bringing the work and the work items together so the employee can do all these things together with only one interface.
Kathy: It sounds like they have everything at their fingertips in one system to do their job, right? That would make learning so much easier, I would think. And even longer-tenured employees would have higher satisfaction levels as well, right?
Michael: Right, that’s been our experience with our clients. And that leads to the second benefit:
2. Better Customer Experiences
If the employees are happier, that ultimately results in better customer experiences. Here’s a good example. Sometimes you need to call a person who owes you something, because you need to know where they are at in the process in order to make a decision. We’ve all been there. And that's what's nice about Accelerate—the visibility into where things are going on in the process.
For instance, a customer can call in to find out the status on an order. With Accelerate, you can drill down to that order, find out who is handling it, and you can chat with the responsible person real-time—in one system. You can be fast, expedient and consistent with your customers, and at the same time, hold employees more accountable for their actions. Your customers see you as people that can be consistent, so when they need something they get it. I think that is the best and the most phenomenal part of Accelerate.
Kathy: Yes, that sounds great! I know that would make me real happy if I could find out something right away what's going on, especially if I was a disgruntled customer.
So what’s another benefit of Accelerate?
Michael: I would have to say...
3. More Effective & Efficient Remote Working
We are rolling out a solution this week that will empower an organization’s employees to master the art of working remotely. A lot of times we spend too much effort going back and forth with email, and work can be so disjointed. With this new solution, project managers can allocate work, employees can schedule what needs to be done that day and the system can auto-assign tasks to employees. The system will even text you notifications for items that are high priority. With this new system, you can just log in and see what you need to complete for the day. And it has all the information you need at your fingertips.
There is even the ability for companies who have daily stand-ups to do away with them (if so desired), because everything can be visible on what team members are working on. Once you take on any work in the system, you can then communicate with everyone involved with that item of work as it progresses. So, it makes working outside the office a whole lot easier.
Kathy: I think that would be just amazing for remote workers, because it's been new for a lot of people. How wonderful would it be to just boot up your computer in the morning and see what you need to accomplish that day just right there in Accelerate! That would be amazing. I can see how this would improve productivity and in turn, overall customer experience.
Could you give an example of some work you've done for a client that has done both—improved productivity and ultimately created happy customers?
Michael: Sure. We have clients in transportation, finance, and healthcare in the areas of compliance management and process automation. One healthcare company has a requirement to track between 50-60 audits a month that are done around their company with a need to report regularly to their State office. It involves a lot of collaboration.
Prior to their Accelerate implementation, there were a lot of manual steps involved in tracking audits—managing multiple texts and emails, manually filling out compliance forms and scanning them, creating digital files, etc. With the 50-60 audits happening a month, it resulted in hundreds of emails and texts.
Now with an automated audit tracking process, everybody logs into a system and they see only what they need to see. Electronic files are more quickly created so they can be submitted to the State more quickly. You can even see all of the compliant audits versus the non-compliant audits. They can also see how things are progressing for all 60 audits.
Post-implementation, it was the equivalent of a full-time job reduction in workload. That’s a testimony of what Accelerate can do with compliance management. This made their residents happier, as more time could be spent improving the cultural life of the residents instead of tracking down audits and paper trails that didn’t directly add value to the overall experience.
Another area is medical billing. We're getting ready to launch this, which will result in a reduction of a four-person workload to one person for this one company. In some areas the tasks have been completely removed, so they can shift others around and are able to take on other items at higher volume.
In both cases, this doesn’t mean they’ve laid or will lay off people. It means they are able to take on more sales and grow their companies.
Kathy: Wow, that sounds phenomenal! I’m sure customers are really reaping the benefit of the improved productivity.
What’s another benefit that Accelerate can provide?
Michael: there’s actually two that are closely related...
4. Quicker Implementations & Increased Ability to Innovate
With Accelerate, we can more quickly roll out automated processes to our clients to fix their problems. We do this through prototyping a potential solution so our clients can really see what they will get before they invest their dollars. That way their investment results in getting exactly what they want.
Another thing we’re seeing is an increased ability for companies to innovate, based on the lower costs and quicker time frames they’re experiencing with Accelerate implementations. We’re seeing that companies who want to innovate through software solutions don’t need to put off potential projects any more. Some of the line items that may have been on their list of projects they wanted to tackle, but were at the bottom of the list, we’re able to help them with. They’re getting bigger bang for their buck. I think that's a theme we're going to be seeing more in the future.
Kathy: That makes sense. So, here’s our last question: Do you have any more examples of how you’ve saved your clients money?
Michael: Yes. One thing we’ve seen with non-software development firms is this: when considering investing in a software solution, they have to ask themselves this question: “Do I want to build and own my own software, or should I license an existing platform?” Of course, it depends on what their needs are. If it falls within our wheelhouse, we’ve seen the value in licensing our software for what it brings to a customer.
For instance, one company we worked with was given a bid for over $1M for a custom process development project. After they selected us, what would have cost them a $1M to build, we were able to build for only a $15-25K dollars, plus license fees.
Kathy: That’s incredible, just incredible! That's a ridiculous amount of savings! So not only can you improve productivity, but you can give better customer experiences and enable more effective remote working. You do it all at a good value.
Michael: that’s right!
Kathy: well, even I learned some things today! Thanks for joining us, Michael. I think my readers will appreciate some of the things they've learned about Accelerate.
Michael: My pleasure.
Thanks for joining me for this four-part series. Stay tuned for future blogs I’ll be posting!
By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
A Four-Part Series: Part 3
Meeting Immediate Needs is the Name of the Game
How many of us who are in Sales roles are stymied on how to sell our services during these crazy times?
What to do?
Breandan Filbert, Managing Partner of SalezWorks, has some great tips for us. And Breandan knows her stuff! If you’ve been enjoying my newsletters, you can thank her in part—as my Sales coach, she’s been the driving force to help kickstart my prospecting efforts in high gear!
You may be thinking—“Sales, that doesn’t apply to me.” If that’s you, I encourage you to hang in there with me. All of us, at times, are selling our capabilities or our ideas to others. So, these tips can work for anyone!
Kathy: Breandan, thanks for joining me today! What can companies do right now to not only survive, but thrive during our current economic climate?
Breandan: there are three things I think that are really important:
1. Stay Close to Your Current Clients.
Try to understand and serve their needs. It’s almost guaranteed that something has significantly changed in how they do business to keep their customers safe and continue business operations. Find out what those necessary changes are and serve them during those changes.
2. Uncover the Necessary Pivot
Find alternative products or services to offer current clients rather than to start from scratch with new prospects. Cash flow is of vital importance right now, and getting to the bank quicker with each opportunity should be the first priority with any sales attempt.
3. Recognize Everything is a Campaign
Getting an instant sale when you reach out isn’t often reality. Cultivate your prospects by identifying issues, proposing solutions and then continuing to solve problems for them through your services. Each interaction should provide value and be part of your campaign to solve problems in their organization.
Remember to keep in mind when you’re doing this: the buyer journey normally takes 8-22 interactions with your brand or business prior to doing business with you.
Kathy: Wow, that’s a lot of touches. But reflecting on my “wins” I’ve had, I’ve experienced that myself.
I really like the idea that interactions can be a campaign in itself, and also the importance of pivoting to fulfill immediate needs. Do you happen to have any examples of combining the two—how pivoting your offerings can result in a great campaign for a company?
Breandan: Yes, there are a lot of examples out there right now. I like the story about one local company that typically manufactures in-store shelving for retailers. As you can imagine, retail has been hit hard right now. Retailers aren’t really thinking about upgrading their shelving or display units—they are more concerned with protecting their frontline workers. So, they pivoted their operations to manufacture sneeze guards for cash register workstations and PPE for healthcare and frontline workers.
They started this whole new effort by first volunteering to make PPE for health care workers. This resulted in a lot of great press for them—their brand interactions happened with customers who heard about the good things they were doing in their community. This is all about building emotional equity with others who want to do good things as well.
The end result? They are now servicing the healthcare vertical, which is a new avenue for them.
Kathy: I love that! Not only are they helping their business in the short-term, but they’re building potential for future business through positive press.
Do you have any closing comments?
Breandan: Yes, I always like to challenge people to take action based on what they are learning. My question for you is this: what will YOU do to maximize opportunity during this downturn?
If your readers would like more insights, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn.
Kathy: Thanks for your advice, Breandan! I think my readers will really benefit from it.
Breandan: I appreciate the time invested in reading!
Stay tuned for next week’s topic on Digital Transformation.
With the fall-out of stay-at-home orders on organizations and uncertainty around how businesses will operate in the future, it’s so important to begin shifting the way we do business towards more online platforms.
You don’t want to miss my interview with my Alliance Partner, Michael Cantu’. He’ll share best practices on doing that!