Tips to Ensure Your Departments Work Well Together

Published: 28th April 2011
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Significant positive effects on the external client service can be achieved with just small improvements in internal customer services. Managers and supervisors must encourage better team work and inter departmental collaboration. This is an important part of their role. This is why team work is a core subject in many supervisory and management training courses. To achieve a positive effect on the amount of collaboration between different areas, for example between the customer service and sales department or product development and production team, managers need to take the following steps:

Step 1 is to clearly define the criteria for success. Make clear statements about what you actually mean by giving good service. Define very clearly the aspects of success you are striving for. For example:

Your attitude towards client service. Personal skills and abilities. Success orientation. The quality of the end result etc.

Step 2 is to gauge the extent to which improvements need to be made. In order to avoid subjective, and thereby inaccurate, assessments of the quality of the service you offer, you should develop an instrument which will gauge this (such as a questionnaire). This will present you with an objective assessment of the improvements which need to be made.

Each department can develop its own criteria, or you can draw up a grid, which is valid for every department and so makes it easier to compare the results. The following questions could be included on the assessment:

How much contact did you have with department X over the last twelve months? (No contact, 1-5 contacts, 6-20 contacts, 21 or more contacts).

What is your assessment of these contacts (please evaluate each statement on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = I agree, 2 = I mostly agree, 3 = I don't really agree, 4 = I do not agree and 5 = don't know/not applicable). The first person with whom I come into contact in the company can help me or puts me in touch with someone who can help me. They have the knowledge and ability to help me It is possible to work with them in general. They manage to meet all my needs and answer every question on time or even before the deadline. My calls and messages are promptly returned/answered. They try and find out what I really need. I am satisfied with the length of time it takes them to deal with my enquiries

Step 3 is to analyse the results. The results of the questionnaires should be summarised in tables and graphs and these should then be sent to the department managers concerned. The results for each department are compared with the very best, very worst and average results for every question asked.

It is advisable when publishing the results to concentrate on the best four or five departments and not to allow the remaining results to be readily accessible. This will create too much unrest and will frustrate, rather than encourage the weaker departments.

A tried and tested method of management training used to improve understanding for other colleagues and departments is to send your key people on attachment to the departments with which they have most contact. If an employee has "been in someone else's shoes", they will be more willing to replace their narrow point of view with co-operation.

Step 4 Link results with a bonus system. A company bonus system which is linked to improved customer service results can be an additional incentive to improved co-operation between the various teams and departments. The challenge is in finding an acceptable bonus scheme for departments with varying levels of demands and requirements.

Step 5 is to seek information from your clients. If your customers note in a questionnaire that your overall service has improved, you will know that your efforts have all been worthwhile.

Your clients can sense whether there is smooth internal teamwork within your company, this is why promotion of teamwork features so prominently in management training courses.


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Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management training courses that improve business performance. You can view more details by clicking on the link.

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