Home > General > Why fix it if it aint broke? Stick to what works

Why fix it if it aint broke? Stick to what works

Donald Trump in February 2009

Image via Wikipedia

Over the years procedures that have been in place for decades have been changed because new people came in with better ideas. Think about the new secretary who creates anew filing system that is state of the art, but make s it impossible to locate documents. Simple things such as new printer, a new It system can create havoc in the workplace. It is not that new ideas, processes or procedures are bad; it is more the implementation that creates problems.

Tel One for example the fixed line company in Zimbabwe stopped supplying telephones with new lines. There are no suppliers of handsets in Zimbabwe so clients have lines and no handsets. So their lines remained idle and people couldn’t phone, which meant no revenue for the company. For decades clients were supplied with handsets because the company wanted them to get home and start dialing, because that is where their income came from. Years after stopping supply of handsets and after dismal financial results, Tel One has now realized that they should actually provide the handsets with the lines. However clients are now used to using their cell phones and no longer have need for a fixed line.

Africa often adopts ideas and procedures that work in other countries and look down on their own standard procedures. Ideas are picked up from the West and are implemented without thought as to whether they actually work. At the same time when such procedures are adopted, they are applied with such rigidity and an inflexibility that often leaves the customer with a bitter taste in their mouth. Some ideas are not bad, but the implementation of the procedures renders the procedures useless. Great ideas lose their value when implemented incorrectly. Some ideas work in the West but may not work in Africa. Some Harvard ideas may not be applicable to Africa. Our own home brewed ideas will be more relevant than the research conducted in a lab at Harvard.

Just recently I cancelled an order made to quite a big company and the manager refused to give me the refund back. He literally told me to talk to his lawyer and that we should settle this issue in court or that he would give me my money back as and when he pleased. He has watched too much Judge Judy if you ask me, because how can you take an issue of a small refund to court. You spend ten times more going to court, and lose any potential business in the future. It may sound good telling a customer to talk to your lawyer, but it will cost you in the future. If Donald Trump shouts YOU ARE FIRED on national TV, doesn’t mean that bosses can just shout ‘You are fired’ to their employees. 

After approaching several companies for one reason or another, the one common thread with all of them is they all want to se a written proposal even before speaking with you.  Before finding out what you want, as many as 8 out of ten companies have asked me for a proposal in writing. Even the Mupedza Nhamo traders asked for a proposal. I’m thinking, a waste of time, resources both theirs and ours and also paper and ink. We have had to write proposals for companies only to find out that it was not necessary. After approaching companies for room hire to conduct courses, we were asked to bring a proposal. They wanted to know the whole detail, our vision, our strategy and everything about us, before they looked into the possibility of hiring out a venue. They would not tell us if they had rooms available or not, until they saw the proposal. Unfortunately this seems to be standard procedure because the conditions have been the same everywhere. I guess somewhere along the line, proposal was the buzz word and everywhere you turn proposals are called for even when there is no need.

The mystery shopper is used by many larger companies. Senior staff members anonymously go into shops and pretend to be customers, placing orders and actually buying. This way they can put themselves in the customers shoes and see exactly what happens when the customer wants to purchase. Other methods of evaluating processes and procedures are to pretend to be the product and what the product goes through before getting to the customer. Companies adopt procedures that make running businesses a challenge and frustrate customers. Instead of making it easier for the customers to buy, companies make it as hard as possible.

If a customer comes into your shop to buy, make their experience memorable and create raving fans. A raving fan will always come back and buy from you and will go and rant about their experience to their friends. In these days of social media, we need to create raving fans, who will blow the trumpet on our products and services. There is no need to sticking to archaic procedures that don’t work or adopting the latest procedures that make buying difficult.

Categories: General
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