Business Models Change
For example, one of my clients operated a (now
"dot-gone") web-based Internet commerce company. It helped small businesses
establish shopping carts on their web sites to sell merchandise to their
visitors. Their business model required that the process of acquiring new
customers and servicing them should be 95 percent automated. But, the
Customer Satisfaction Survey we conducted for this company revealed that
customers wanted more personal attention, not more on-screen documentation or
FAQ web pages.
Their sales staff did double-duty as customer
service agents, but the company needed them to be selling, not servicing
existing customers. Because the only way they could attract and retain new
merchants was by providing time-consuming handholding, their sales staff began
to spend more and more time servicing customers and less time selling. In
short, their business model had changed and they didn't have the right staffing
Demand Often Changes
Faster than Supply
Another one of my clients is an office manager of
a busy, large group medical practice. She is responsible for five office
workers who handle medical records and deal with the paperwork required by the
One day the senior partner told her they would be
adding a new physician to the practice. That day, she also learned that one of
their larger HMOs was changing their procedures and that her office would now
be required to complete additional paperwork for each patient.
She knew that she would need more staff
immediately, but to hire and train them would take months. The demand for
staffing occurred faster than the supply and her existing staff was overtaxed
until new staff could be trained.
Staff Cuts Go Too
In the spirit of fairness, one of my clients implemented an
across-the-board layoff. Each department was required to reduce their staff
count by one.
We conducted an Employee Survey of "the
survivors" and found that the workload problems were particularly severe in
the smaller departments.
One of my financial service clients has many
dedicated, long-tenure employees. To improve efficiency this company has been
gradually upgrading their internal systems. Many functions previously performed
by hand are now fully automated. Our Employee Survey found that, as a
result, the technical staff feels overworked and the old-timers feel
What they now needed were fewer of the
do-it-by-hand employees and more programmers and computer savvy workers.
The required skills had changed.