What is business excellence?
Provided by Chris van Rooyen and Sylvia Malenovski
Business excellence is about your business excelling at two primary levels. The first is the operational level and the second is the relational level. ‘Operations’ is the engine of your business that comprises disciplines, systems and functions. The ‘relational’ level is the people end of business and includes staff, suppliers, and customers.
All successful businesses operate efficiently and professionally in these areas. All too many businesses however compromise on one or both areas of their business. The most common compromise is doing only what is expected to get the job done. Business excellence starts with an attitude i.e., an understanding of the value of exceeding expectations. Business owners are all aware of the importance of competing with their competitors. But often they forget that by doing only what is expected they are perhaps matching the competition, but most certainly not offering exceptional service, and thereby failing dismally to be competitive in their market.
The ‘operations’ in business focuses on a number of structured disciplines, all of which are designed to maximise business efficiency. For example, what standards have you set for your products and services? Are they designed to offer better value for your customer than any competitor can offer?
Do you have systems in place that allow you to optimise your production and service efficiencies such as financial management systems that maintain your financial transactions and keep accurate records of all activity from procurement to sales. Or customer management systems that capture customer data used for marketing your business? Or stock, ordering and distribution management systems? Are you optimising these systems by keeping them up to date with technology?
The ‘relationship’ aspect of business is invariably the most neglected and is arguably the most important. Good relationships between suppliers, staff and customers create a natural cycle of excellence. Suppliers that respect you will give you the best service, staff that communicate well and have the right attitude will be more productive, customers that you service exceptionally well will return to buy again and refer others to your business.
The key to ‘business excellence’ is to create a culture of delivering the exceptional at every level of your business. Meeting customer’s expectations is not exceptional; you have to exceed their expectations at all times to impress them enough to adopt you as their preferred company of choice.