Scandinavian Proverb. "Go often to the house of thy friend; for weeds soon choke up the unused path." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
How much action do you send to your strategic partners? Is the new business they are sending you sufficient? Like many things in life, unused resources expire and pass away from your sight. Strategies to improve the value of partner relationships:
Serving customer communities online. Lee LeFever has written a blog entry on serving customer communities online, in which he provides some practical advice and tips. [Column Two]
Lee LeFever does it again with an excellent article about points to consider when establishing an online community and the benefits of such community to the bottom line of your organization.
A key point LeFever drives home is to be a community first and online second. This is something I can't stress enough, relationships are not built in any one medium, it takes multiple interactions through various communications channels.
Several steps to building a community were outlined. (1) Document the major needs of your customer base, (2) Segment customers into logical interest groups, (3) Match the needs outlined in step 1 with those groups in step 2, (4) Build online communications tools around this base. More details available in the original article.
In step 1, I'd rather you look at the desires customers have as it relates to what they are willing to purchase. Focus on a few areas to start, then build your community on early accomplishments. A successful online community can reduce your cost of delivering customer support, improve customer relationships, and increase the knowledge sharing between customers.
Best Practices -- More Than Meets The Eye. The visual workplace's unheralded benefits include an empowered workforce and sustained manufacturing improvement. [Industry Week - Articles & Columns]
Jill Jusko writes about Gwendolyn D Galsworth's book Visual Systems: Harnessing the Power of a Visual Workplace (1997, AMACOM) in explaining the aspects of a work environment that is self-explaining, self-ordering, self-regulating, and self-improving-- because of visual devices. The original article explains how visual systems can improve employee productivity.
Visual devices include colored labels on shelves, directional lines on floors, color coded filing systems, or even representational symbols. Employees work better in visually appealing environments, these symbolic tools help them navigate within their duties making materials easy to find.
An organization system helps employees focus more on the work at hand than finding tools. In a software engineering environment we designated separate spaces for development, testing, integration, and production. Each area had a work-flow diagram posted which included the area layout. This configuration simplified materials storage, improved productivity, and reduced setup times.
For years I've used visual training tools to help employees and clients to understand new processes. These visual tools supplement other training to provide a more rounded learning experience that improved retention and comprehension. Simple flow charts are great visual reminders of how work flows through your organization.
Each employee will have a preferred sense, a strictly audible or mechanical environment will only help a percentage of employees be more productive. Adding visual elements will increase productivity by making processes more self-explanatory and reduces starting times of repetitive tasks.