For the last month or so, I’ve had a challenge with a former business partner and have limited success reaching an amicable resolution. During this time, I also reached out to several attorneys with limited success. Online researched did not answer all of my questions and challenges. After a little contemplation, I remember a few years ago about an option to consumer specialist who volunteer at Clarkhoward.com.
If you visit his website, there’s a free option that you can a Consumer Action Center (besides the cost of the telephone call). I decided to try this service. I spoke to Mr. Bill at the CAC who provided some insight on my business challenge. Even though he wasn’t necessarily an expert on some aspects of my situation, he was well schooled in online searching and provided some valuable websites previously unseen. Several of the recommended sites at first glance could provide valuable insight in resolving my former business partner challenge. Mr. Bill also added some advice and situations based on the facts of the case. After the call ended, I felt good about the service they provide and got me thinking how this same model could apply elsewhere.
A few years ago, I worked for a large insurance company and we had a program called MCM (it’s about ensuring all of our internal and external processes have effective controls & monitoring in place). However, there were situations where the issue that needed reviewing did not occur in the front or back office, the area responsible for the control could be IT related, server or systems related. When something had to be investigated by IT, I merely would shake my head. This action had very little to do with chasing cobwebs away and much to do about my aggravation of finding the right person for a satisfactory answer. For my last 4 operational losses related to IT, I’ve spent approximately 10-15 hours on each of these issues – trying to locate the correct area to handle the case. This included emails, online chats and actual meetings, again, this is not only inefficient, it’s often avoidable.
What do I mean that it’s avoidable? When an employee has trouble locating correct information in their job, I wonder if developing an Employee Action Center would be useful – something similar to what Clark Howard provides. What would this look like? The EAC could be staffed by friendly, experienced employees with a strong aptitude in troubleshooting and sometimes thinking outside the box. The EAC could be reached by phone, chat or email. The staff would help bring more efficiency to the company by cutting through the red tape and provide quick answers to those colleagues in need of help and support. Talk about a win-win.
You could have it properly staffed so phone calls or emails would have a 24-hour turnaround time. You could also have individuals in the bullpen that could come on board if resources are constrained to handle chats or emails, allowing the other staff to strictly handle the calls.
This idea did not surface overnight. In fact, I had previously thought of this idea about 15 years ago when I worked at another Fortune 100 company. Frustrated at sometimes not knowing whom to contact when I had a question or needed someone’s contact information, this Employee Action Center was spawned. To solve a nagging problem I regularly confronted. My motivation wasn’t to add another layer of bureaucracy, but rather, have the option of quickly leveraging someone’s vast company knowledge to assist me in connecting the dots.
At my previous Fortune 100 employer, I remember running this idea by a colleague who had worked for the company for over 25 years. She shrugged her shoulders to essentially say this idea is not needed as she would call Jane in Accounting or Bill in Server Solutions and get things resolved in a matter of hours if not minutes. Perhaps my facial smirk indicated that she didn’t get my point, as our perspectives were not aligned. Based on so many years of experience, she didn’t see any reason to have an Employee Action Center when you can use your internal company rolodex to get a resolution.
However, how many of my colleagues at the time had her knowledge and contact list? In other words, this help line would not be for everyone, one size doesn’t fit all but could be useful for the majority of employees to help drive efficiency and bypass some of the corporations’ red tape.