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Articles > # 122 One Thing - Ideal Computer Systems ASA 10-25-11

Can you give me an example of a successful company's One Thing?

 In the fall of 2008 Ideal Computer Systems was struggling with their customer support system.  Customer’s called for help with their hardware and software they had purchased from Ideal and often had to wait to get a return call to receive the answers they were looking for.  Ideal Computer Systems had been working on this area for over a year with almost daily meetings with their executive team to improve the customer turnaround time of their support team.  Throughout 2008 it often exceeded 60 minutes. Exacerbating the situation, their support manager gave his resignation, moving to New Orleans to be closer to his girlfriend.

Feeling at the cross roads, and realizing the importance of this customer support for building their business Ideal Computer Systems executive team created a theme to reduce their ASA [Average Speed of Answer] down to a more acceptable level.  After a third quarter average of 55 minutes they decided to set a very aggressive goal to drop this to 24 minutes and a super green goal of 16.  In an effort to place more emphasis on this effort they decided to hire two managers to serve customer support, more than doubling the number of managers and attention that had previously been dedicated to this vital segment of their business. 

It should be noted that dissension and strife was ripe in the support area.  The group as a whole had taken on a victim mentality feeling that they were being held up as the reason the business wasn’t succeeding to the extent it should because the ASA was so high. 

Dennis Haefner and his team announced the theme at a companywide meeting.  The point of the meeting was not only to proclaim the new priorities for the quarter but to inform the entire organization that lowering ASA was a company priority and something they all shared in and were equally responsible for dropping to an acceptable time frame.  Instead of focusing on support the emphasis was that everyone was responsible for this number.  Administration was instructed to make sure support calls were identified and directed correctly.  Sales should make sure they were selling the correct products and setting start ups accurately.  Programming needed to fix bugs in the system to prevent support calls from occurring in the first place.  This would be a team effort that wouldn’t just focus on this quarter but beyond.  Customer Service was the ultimate priority.  In addition to lowering support as their number one priority Ideal set a balancing priority to increase their customer loyalty rating as well [NPS score]. 

The result was dramatic!  Instead of feeling like they were the focal point of the company’s focus and being blamed the support team rallied around the two new managers, the theme’s intention and felt the encouragement of the rest of the team toward achieving their goal.

ASA time dropped precipitously, below their goals levels by almost unheard of grades.  Not only did support beat their green goal of 24, they beat the super green goal of 16, with support ending the quarter under 10 minutes at 9.6!  Average Speed of Answer decreased from almost sixty minutes to less than 10 minutes in just 90 days! Just as important the customer approval rating soared to an 8.54 rating also beating their super green goal.  Ultimately this One Thing focus had a significant impact on Ideal Computer Systems.  When Dennis looked back on this achievement when he sold his business in November of 2010 he could signal this progress as the single most important influence of his achieving a 35% increase in revenue that year. 

My question for you is what’s your One Thing?   What’s the single most important thing your business can concentrate on for the next year and 90 days to impact your business?   Now is the time to be planning for it.  

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