Bringing excellence into business

If you want to set an example as a market leader, it’s time to hire a business excellence manager.

Business rhetoric is changing. Market leaders are no longer just talking about bottom lines and profitability. Today’s corporations are constantly searching for new ways to improve customer experience, inspire their workforce and show that they care. What they’re looking for is business excellence. But how do you define corporate finesse? As business excellence manager for Ricoh Ireland, it’s my job to figure that out and implement it across all elements of the business.

Honesty is the best policy

In sum, what a business excellence manager does is protect the company name. To achieve that, we must look at all aspects of the business with absolute honesty, identify the difficulties and present a solution. It requires objectivity that a CEO or business owner might not have.

One key area that the business excellence manager looks at is the customer: how happy are they and can the level of service we’re providing be improved? But managing your own progress and performance can be difficult. I go by the ‘right first time’ concept; preventing problems rather than spending company time and resources on fixing them. I measure success by never making the same mistake twice.

Building a real and honest relationship with your customer is fundamental—and it pays. Time and again, research shows that acquiring new business is up to 10 times more expensive than retaining existing customers. Your relationship with clients, therefore, dictates how long they will stay with you and how effectively you will navigate through problems should they occur.

I always take the time to get to know my customer and show them that I care and am interested in them. I create a partnership with them. It’s not just about discussing how we can better serve them, it’s chatting to them about their favourite sports team, or the latest Netflix series they’re watching.

Business excellence at the heart

So your customers are happy, but what about the rest of the organisation? Business excellence needs to run through the core of every company. In Ricoh Ireland, I work with everyone from the sales team, to customer service, to administration. I also look internally at costs, quality control and our corporate social responsibility. It’s up to me to say: let’s look at the heartbeat of our process and talk about how we as a team can do better.

As we emerge from the other side of the recession, the need for business excellence managers within organisations has never been so great. Businesses once again are starting to report profits, but one upshot of the downturn lingers. The recession brought aggression back into the office—and it’s never really left.

As demands on businesses increased and resources diminished, people were squeezed as they took on unmanageable workloads and responsibilities. I still see the effects of that in companies today and it’s in direct conflict with what businesses are trying to achieve. It’s up to the business excellence manager to re-establish a balance in the workplace.

The ultimate goal is to encourage employees to treat the company as their own; motivating them to care about their work and the customer. Department heads can play a huge role in creating a positive work culture. The barometer of a manager should be: ‘How many people on my team got promoted in the last year? How many people have I helped?’ It’s pointing out promotion opportunities that a team member may not have considered, and providing training in areas that employees are lacking.

Practise what you preach

What I’ve learned consistently is: do what you say you’re going to do. It sounds simple, but people respond to promises delivered. Sadly, too many of us expect the businesses we deal with, and work for, to under-deliver. But that’s where market leaders stand to benefit: sticking to your word has the power to blow people away. That is what I strive for as business excellence manager at Ricoh Ireland and that is what our customers and workforce have come to expect.

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