Processes, People and Profit

Infrastructure Series (Part 5)

The Infrastructure series will posted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of November 2011.  

Today I had the opportunity to watch the training session of a new front desk employee at the veterinary hospital where I was picking up my dog. I have been impressed with the professional services and efficiencies in the local office near me, but really enjoyed overhearing the training session while I waited. It was delightful to see infrastructure at work where every process had a purpose and triggered other processes, actions and communications. Very little was left to chance. Rather than tying the staff to a computer screen, the infrastructure actually freed time for the staff to be personal, courteous and warm without one element of work being dropped.

As the trainer explained the processes required to check my dog out, I could hear the mechanics at work. Even though we had started at another location, all events, interactions, communications, treatment, meds and relative info were tracked – all from point of touch - not filled in later. Each person’s notes were available with their name, picture and email address for questions. The notes were written in a conversational style with warmth and genuine caring. They educated the customer and engaged a relationship that makes you want to utilize their services again and, more importantly, refer them to others. Great marketing!

Fail safe measures are built-in, validating all completed processes before the dog is brought out. There were reminders for incomplete items, questions to be asked and upselling that was appropriate and relative to the visit without being obnoxious or sounding scripted, and I am not sure but believe that there was a smiley face or some other reminder to smile and be friendly.

Process and people were brought together by infrastructure to drive profits. I share this story as it is a good example and can be created in almost any type of company.

The infrastructure was built on principles that are a solid foundation, allowing the systems to run and people to work. It is not simply the technology but the design of the processes which makes sure that each cog of the machine efficiently engages the next cog or other part of the machinery without redundancy or waste. It meant that there was a documentation of the process that would create the results over and over again. The infrastructure was built to house all of the working components and produce the work product. Most importantly the people could do their jobs, optimize the skills that would cement the relationships and without a lot of burden.

I have also noticed during my visits that the staff seems to be happy, eager to share work and are genuinely a team. It appears to be a great working environment which also enhances the customer experience.

To gain a glimpse of this company, go to their web site. The site is definitely a large component of the infrastructure. They target and engage people, the people who love their pets and the ones who will spend money. I particularly like the site because it extends the personality and the culture of the company through the web. It supports their business processes, markets, communicates and informs. Best of all it is at work 24 x 7, most likely one of the most reasonable employees on the team.

Every part of this business can be replicated as the company grows. The tools and systems can be expanded without breaking the infrastructure. The marketing incorporates internet initiatives, high touch communications, and referrals. All elements of the company are synergistically bound by a living infrastructure.

I guess that you could say I am a fan of their practice but more so I appreciate the business structure behind it. What do your customers hear, see and experience? Most important of all, will they refer people and business to you?