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20 Mar

Spring is traditionally a time of hope and renewal when growth plans hatched in the depths of winter start to come to fruition.  It’s a time when warmer days and longer nights lift the spirits and it’s also a time when the urge arrives to have a good clear out and a clean.

No-one knows exactly where the drive to spring clean comes from. Some attribute it to some kind of genetic memory from cave dwelling prehistory, others to the longer days and extra light inducing a chemical change which boosts energy levels.  Whatever the reason, spring cleaning still seems to be an annual imperative, particularly in colder climes.

Actually in the interests of honesty that’s not universally true, with a number of surveys over recent years indicating that our appetite for spring cleaning may be waning. Nevertheless, it is still an activity which is ‘enjoyed’ by the majority of the population; with a survey in 2016 revealing that the UK regions most likely to spring clean were Northern Ireland (90%) and the North East of England (82%) whilst propping up the spring cleaning pile was London with a mere 62%.

That’s still a healthy enough response rate for magazines and news publications be packed with hints and tips on spring cleaning ranging from using rubber gloves to pick up pet hairs to cleaning stainless steel pans with baking soda. However, spring cleaning should not simply be confined to the home; businesses too may decide to mark the emergence of spring with a good clear out.

When we talk about spring cleaning businesses we don’t just mean getting rid of that broken stapler or finally doing something about that chair with the wobbly wheel, although they are both important contributors to office inefficiency. But why limit your ambitions to simply tidying the office? This could be a perfect time to review and do away with all of those practices and systems which may have been useful in the past but now contribute little to overall business efficiency.

Take telephone systems for example. Technological advances have opened up the way for even small businesses to make the most of automated telephony systems and yet many businesses have not reviewed their telephone practices in order to take advantage of these advancements.  This could potentially be costing the business in terms of time and lost revenue as calls are handled inappropriately or potential customers put off by long transfer times or calls not being answered.

It doesn’t take much to spring clean telephone systems; particularly if you start by looking at call processes from the point of view of the caller.

  • Could hunt groups speed up telephone answering?
  • Could calls be diverted automatically after a certain number of rings either to another individual in the office, to answerphone or to an external virtual assistant service?
  • Could the phone numbers of key suppliers or customers be programmed into the system so that calls from those numbers are automatically switched to their nominated contacts within the firm?
  • Would an information line improve the customer experience whilst simultaneously saving time within the business?
  • Are the phone numbers advertised appropriate for the customer base; or would a switch to local, regional, national, or even international numbers be more appropriate?

Taking time out to review and spring clean telephone practices could make a measurable difference both to customers and to people within the business. And the same approach can be applied to other processes within the organisation. When you think about it, spring cleaning may seem like an awful lot of work but when the outcome is positive it can be worth it in the long run.


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