Research Articles

Take Care of the Back Office, Written by David Wallis

Take Care of the Back Office

Every now and again I get a timely reminder that the external image of a business often reflects the internal environment, this can be both a good and bad thing.  Take for example the growing retail business, keen to attract customers, advertise its services and to capture the attention of the potential clients, its fair to say a fair amount of the Learning and Development Budget is often thrown at ‘Front Office’ resources because the return is instantaneously measurable, whether that be by sales or by month end profits.

However it would be wise to ensure that back office teams are aligned with the company efforts here. By allocating sufficient training budget to ensure that the back office team is aligned with the vision and strategy of the business or better able to handle customer complaints and queries, the investment made at the ‘shop front’ would be enhanced and protected.

Case in Point

This “AH-HA” moment was confirmed for me recently, when listening to the trading update of a major international airline, they spoke proudly about the new systems that effectively integrated two booking systems together in the seamless transition of two business entities into the new corporate structure. However they failed to invest the same interest or training spend on ‘baggage handling’ with the net result, being increased consumer traffic, increased payloads, improved booking efficiencies.

Good News

Arrival times had improved dramatically by comparison to the competition, BUT the lost/missing baggage statistics had moved dramatically in the wrong direction, primarily due ‘in their words’ to a lack of training and outdated systems that were unable to cope with larger volumes. Net result, potential brand contamination as opposed to enhanced brand loyalty. The business had reacted quickly and minimized the potential damage but the oversight had been made at the outset.

In the majority of business the back office goes unheralded, there is a lot of routine business to be completed, indeed in financial services there is no queue of people wanting to complete Anti-Money Laundering (AML) annual reviews, because it is a tiresome, though necessary task. It still needs to be completed and someone has to be tasked to do so and it is better if they are supported by the business on the value they can derive from the ‘training’ experience.

Moral of the story

So whether you are in retail sales, running an airline or managing a bank, be sure to invest in the people and activities that form the ‘back office’ because failure to do so may be immediately evident in the trading update of your business.