This is the first in a two-part series of discussions around the subject of quality customer service. The series is an amalgam of thought and where appropriate and possible I have acknowledged the source of the material contained in the articles. The discussion is premised on the need to understand the critical elements of customer service and the functions of management to manage the quality of the experience for the customer.
1. Five Management Functions
Managers’ skills and activities to get the job done have been traditionally grouped into five functional areas, planning, organising, staffing, leading and monitoring.
Planning involves establishing a goal and objectives and deciding how best to achieve them. What needs to be accomplished? By when? What needs to be done to make it happen? Who is best equipped to do it?
As the saying goes, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’
Things don’t happen by themselves. They need to be planned. And remember a goal without an action plan is a wish!
Planning also involves innovating. Continual improvements, however small, are an imperative. No matter how well things are done now, failing to make improvements is a recipe for disaster in an uncertain business environment.
People, materials, equipment, machines, time and money are all resources. They need to be arranged and coordinated so that the plans can be successfully carried out.
It is often said that people are an organisation’s most valuable resource. They need to be attracted to the organisation, recruited to join it and trained to do their jobs effectively. They need to be treated well so the organisation retains them, because losing employees is expensive.
This function is becoming increasingly important as labour becomes scarce, knowledge and expertise more valuable, and businesses organise themselves in different ways to meet the challenges of the global environment.
Effective leadership is concerned with supporting, guiding, influencing and inspiring others. Setting a good example, developing team spirit, involving and motivating people, and building morale are a few of the important leadership skills. The leading function consumes a large part of most managers’ time and, like the staffing function, it is becoming increasingly important.
‘How are we doing?’ is the monitoring question. Are we operating within budget? Are we meeting production and sales targets? Are our plans progressing as expected? ‘Keeping tabs’ on things by watching critical control points and sensitive spots alerts us to potential problems so we can take corrective action in plenty of time.
(Cole, K, 2001, Supervision: The Theory and Practice of First-Line Management, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, Australia).