The hidden cost of ‘inconsistencies’, indecision

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Batanai Kamunyaru

Statistics used to show that an average consumer would tell seven to eight people about a negative experi­ence, but with the social media power, it has become easier to tell hundreds of people with a click of a button. Such advance­ment of technology proves that the lack of consistency in business can impact sales and services signifi­cantly. It is on this notion that every stakeholder expects the organisation that they will be dealing with to be consistent in its services, product, location, value and any other busi­ness fundamentals. Unfortunately, humans running these organisations are unreliable decision makers, their judgments being affected by irrele­vant factors to the case in discussion. Some of the factors influencing the inconsistences include the weather, the mood and even the time since the last meal.

Some jobs are ‘better’ as little in­consistences are involved. A bank teller, for example, performs very risky tasks but they follow stringent rules and policies that limits person­al judgement, resulting in all clients being treated almost the same. On another note, some jobs – especially those of managers, gives them room to make decisions and judgements for the betterment of the organisa­tion, but in such jobs, that’s were inconsistences in decision making are noticeable. Identical cases may be treated differently, resulting in organisations losing profits, as cus­tomers compare received service to another.

Regarding decisions, several stud­ies on decision making do show that managers even contradict their own previous decisions when given the same situation on different occa­sions. Also, decisions made by differ­ent people on similar organisational positions and for the same case are most likely to diverge. Experts in the field are concluding that managers or leaders are likely to make decisions that differ from their colleagues, from their own previous decisions, and from policies and guidelines that they claim to follow.

However, inconsistent decision making can cause even success­ful organisations to lose substantial amounts of profits without realis­ing it. It is better to standardise everything, and let identical cases be treated the same. The cost of in­consistences in decision making can be very huge, running into hundreds of thousands of dollars for some or­ganisations, if not millions of dollars! Even though organisations expect their managers to be consistent, it is not always the case. For success of the organisation, consistency in decision making is a key skill that every manager should have. When one becomes a manager, they should receive training in decision making – the ability to make decisions and not postpone decision making, mak­ing the decision on time and to be consistent in their decisions.

Having the ability to make a quick, good and consistent decision for identical situations is imperative to all life situations. To be a good business leader, decision making skills are vital and they should be ob­tained as soon as possible before the organisation loses profits. As a busi­ness leader, if your decisions are not made systematically, you are likely to lose respect of your subordinates and may ruin the performance of the organisation – even to the point of making losses.

When one becomes a good deci­sion maker, especially with consist­ence, he or she will command respect from stakeholders and prevent con­flict as people see that they are being treated fairly for identical cases. To prevent conflict, the issue is not really the decision you make but how you would decide on the next same issue. If the decisions differ, then conflict starts, but when decisions are identi­cal your subordinates or stakeholders will respect you as they see that you mean what you say.

Working individuals can attest to the disappointment and frustration of a task stalled as it cannot get ap­proval from management. The man­agement seem confused and no one is willing to decide – be it a good de­cision or a bad decision. Not making any decision is far much worse than making a bad decision. Bad decisions can be corrected later, but at least a decision would have been made rather than spending years without movement because one is failing to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’! In such instances, of failing to decide, work is slowed, and inefficiencies are created. Neverthe­less, with a quick decision, employ­ees can start work and increase pro­ductivity.

Why would customers prefer one organisation over another? Mainly it is due to consistence in customer service or experience. Consistence in what an organisation does is more important to customers, but this is driven by the decisions that manage­ment makes. On another hand, it is consistency and quick decisions that drives productivity and efficiencies better. In the case of customers, they are even willing to pay more for a fast, efficient and consistent product, rather than a lowly priced product that comes with a lot of inefficiencies and inconsistences. When the or­ganisation is consistent in its values, customers become loyal.

In your organisation, do you provide customers or stakeholders with consistent and quality experi­ence every time? You may send your customers to competition due to inconsistences in decision making, inconsistences in experience and in­consistences in quality! It is almost certain that when you have provided your customers with inconsistences, you may not retain many of them, and your business is likely to be per­ceived negatively in the marketplace.

Nevertheless, if customers know what to expect from you, they will come back. They will not only come back to you, but they will give refer­rals. How many times do you return to a certain business because you know that you will be treated the same as last time? And how many businesses do you shun because they are very consistent in their incon­sistency of doing business? Possibly many!

If you go to your usual restaurant and the food is bad, would you ig­nore and continue going back? One of the biggest reasons why McDon­alds is successful is their consistency. In the McDonalds business, custom­ers know exactly what they are going to get and within certain time frames, no matter where a McDonalds res­taurant is located. Consistency has been the model that puts them on the map. Even though McDonalds claim high quality for their products, that is arguable. What is not arguable is their consistence, same burger after same number of minutes! So, con­sistency does sell – repeatedly. Then, when quality is added to consistence the business becomes unbeatable.

Now, to deal with inconsistences, especially in decision making, hu­man judgments must be replaced with policies and procedures. Let the policy deal with much matters in the business, and this will help you sell your business to your customers. Policy is consistent, unless otherwise someone chooses to deliberately vio­late it.

Where policies and procedures can not work best to the satisfaction of the customer, then the managers must be thoroughly equipped with decision making skills. Their deci­sions must be consistent showing no partiality for identical cases. In the law society, it is amazing how they apply consistence to identical issues. For example, in the Zimbabwean ju­risdiction they can apply a decision that was made in South Africa for a similar case. Not to say the decision is the best, but it brings consistence to the law, earning respect! Any de­viation from a previous judgment, for a similar case by the same judge, might be received with mixed emo­tions!

Marie Forleo says, “Success doesn’t come from what you do occasion­ally, it comes from what you do consistently.” A business that lacks consistency will rarely be successful in the long-term. There are many overnight success businesses that are also overnight failures due to lack of consistency. To build a long-lasting organisation, effort must be put on consistency and quality more than anything. However, consistency is not easy, and many fails because they give-  up on being consistent on any­thing. A musician who consistently produces 1,5 albums every year will have 60 albums in the next 40 years, becoming an ‘over-night’ hero after 40 years! A man who consistently plants an orange tree every month will have a citrus in the next 50 years!

So, what does a business need to do to become consistent? Leverage the power of systems. A system will consistently work the way it is set to work, for so many years. Human beings are fickle; therefore, it is not wise to rely on them, they get tired and slip! In the motor industry, ro­bots are being used, as they produce the same size, quality and any other specifics according to how they are programmed to do so, and they can do it repeatedly until they are repro­grammed to do something-else. Such intelligent technologies are being de­signed and developed every day, and they come handy as a powerful tool to manage and try to eliminate the inconsistences in business.

Failure to be consistent costs prof­its, time, quality, customers and even existence of the business. Therefore, to be a successful business, iron out any inconsistences and indecision as soon as you track them down. In­decision and inconsistences are like cancer that slowly cost the business to its death.

As a business, are you consistent in your ways, and if you are, are you consistently good or consistently in­consistent? Choose to be consistently consistent and win customers!

Batanai Kamunyaru is a busi­ness writer, speaker and coach. He can be contacted on bat.kamun­yaru@gmail.com or +263 718 852 489