Mission Computers wins Small Business Award of Distinction
On October 20, 2011 Mission Computers was honored to receive the Business to Business Award of Distinction at the St. Albert Awards of Distinction evening.
This award is given to the organization that provides service to businesses and has demonstrated outstanding achievement in service quality and adapting to changing customer needs. A business is also judged on it's sustainability, effectiveness and contributions to the community.
Comments from our Customers and Colleagues (on receiving this award);
"You earned it Connie. you treat all your clients like they are your best friends and it shows how much you care."
"I've been saying for years that you are awesome, finally others are noticing."
"I was so excited to see that the Judge's had chosen you..."
Thank you to our Customers & Friends that came out to the Awards Night.
From Left to Right; Ardis (my sister & past employee), Tobi (friend & Customer), Colleen & Curtis Barranoik (Valued Business Colleague), myself & my husband Perry
Not all of our invited guests are pictured here.
What we submitted to the Judges...
Mission Computers generates 90% of it’s revenue from other businesses. In the first 10 years of our business it was probably closer to 70% business customers.
Goals when starting our business;
To Provide a Computer Training experience for our customer that was enjoyable, informative and relevant to their work. Our goal was to attract enough customers so that we could be profitable and our goal was to hire the best instructors (instructors that were knowledgeable and had good communications skills, instructors that were caring and conscientious).
I have achieved these goals by…
Before, during and after training I get to know the customer and find out what they need and what they will/have gained from training. We talk with the customer. In the training we are very interactive so we engage the customer (find out how something is relevant to them) and we test for understanding throughout the training. We do feedback forms after training and we often call to follow up after the training.
I have constantly sought out people to train our customers. I have actually hired some of our students as instructors because I found them to be very keen (and excited) with computers and good communicators and knowledgeable. I find people that love to teach and I love to teach (and I only teach what I love).
We are profitable and we always listen to the customer so that we can gear our training to their needs.
Innovative approaches to planning for future customer needs…
Planning for customers future needs means anticipating how the new (newer versions) and different software is going to impact the customer. It also means we are cognizant of the different modes of training required by the busy (business person) customer.
We attend conferences, seminars and training on new and upcoming products so that we are aware of what is happening.
We listen to what the world around us is telling us about new Computer software versions – how is it supposed to help the customer, what are the advantages. We research and talk with colleagues, experts (in the field) and customers.
In listening to the customer (or potential customer) we will discover problems in how something is done (with current computer training or the delivery of that training). From these problems we devise solutions so that our customer has more options. Sometimes listening to the customer means just watching them and seeing how close they get to their goals for the technology (and then seeing what we can do to assist in this process).
Perhaps our customer wants to learn more about a product but they feel that they do not need much time and they want to get specific answers. Our traditional training program includes 3 hours of on-site delivery. In these cases we offer Remote training in 1 hour blocks – using GotoMeeting.
In delivering training sometimes the implementation of the program in a customers’ office is a huge undertaking – a commitment of time and resources. The customer tells us what their goals for the product is and how it will help their business. We go about training them and helping them achieve this. At some point though, we have to leave them to work on it with their own resources (ie. We give them ‘homework’). Getting this ‘homework’ done is sometimes harder than it seems and the customer does not have the time they thought they did. We anticipate this and offer a couple of solutions for them – we can do this work for them or we can offer ‘check-in’ dates, where we will visit them (physically or remotely) and check on their progress and steer them forward.
We even have found from this that some customers need us to check on the progress of their staff. We have done this on face-to-face visits and also remotely and also by checking their work on the computer. As part of this request our job is to motivate the customer to use the software in the way that helps the organization reach it’s goals.
As we communicate with our customer we share with them what we have learned so that they know we are there for them (and their learning). We strive to be proactive in our services; we find out what is new and tell our customers about it.
How is it monitored
Our effectiveness is monitored in during and after the training/consulting is delivered. We have our customers fill in feedback forms for their training experience and we also follow up with the customer to find out how they are implementing what they have learned.
- With our CRM solution, our effectiveness in helping the customer is measured by us constantly evaluating the progress they are making in getting the CRM to achieve the goals and objectives they told us (they purchased the product for). We will examine the data to see how it is changing and offer feedback on what needs to be done next.
- With our QuickBooks training/consulting our effectiveness is monitored by seeing the customer get their work done in their books. We can easy check their systems to see their entries.
- With our Priority Management subcontract our effectiveness is measured by the feedback forms and visits to the desk of the customer – 2 weeks after training. Discovering how the customer implemented what they learned and moving them forward (in their own world). At the desk coaching lets us translate what they have learned into relevant solutions for their work so that they are more efficient and effective.
How does business respond to customer’s changing needs
Our business constantly responds to our customers changing needs. We are in the business of computers, computers change all the time. The one thing we know for certain is change is coming.
How we respond is
- by adapting our types of training delivery – from classroom, to their office, to remote training (over the web).
- by adapting our length of training. If the customer does not have the time or does not need the time involved in a traditional training session (full day or half day), we can offer the training remotely in half hour blocks and offer the training more often (allowing them to do work in-between sessions).
New products/services successfully added in past 3 years
Every year or two we have new products/services because the software itself has changed (a new version has been released).
- We have continually trained new versions of Maximizer, QuickBooks, Outlook, and Excel.
- We have added Web-site building as a new training option (in response to a loyal client’s request).
- We have added to our training and consulting services
- Remote training (using GotoMeeting and the telephone)
- Follow-up or coaching sessions to help our clients implement a program. Scheduled visits to the client site (or remotely on their computer) to check their progress and help them move forward.
How we give back to the community
- In our early years we offered a free Introduction to Computer program for a group of 12 unemployed people.
Over the years we have served on the Board of
- St. Albert Chamber of Commerce,
- St. Albert Further Education (4 years on the board),
- Training & Development Special interest group (Chairperson).
Currently I do a lot of Volunteer work in my home community (for the benefit of my children).
- Treasurer for the local non-profit Playschool (past 4 years)
- Membership Coordinator and Social Committee Chairperson for the Community League (past 3 years)
I enjoying helping and always play an active role in anything I do. I know there will be all kinds of other opportunities to come that will allow me to give back.
Steps to reduce the environmental impact
- Using the computer for notes and communications rather than paper. In particular – using Maximizer to record all communications, tasks and appointments.
- Using a tablet to write notes when with clients (rather than using paper).
- Encouraging my customers to use less paper and more of their computer
- Using GotoMeeting rather than driving in the car to a customer’s
New/Innovative Techology that are business utilizes
- We always use the newest computers & software
- We use GotoMeetings to deliver training and conduct meetings with clients
- We use LogmeIn.com to login and check into our Client’s computers
- We use a Tablet pc to record notes and give up-to-date feedback.
What sets our business aside from others in the industry
Over and over again, we get the comments back from the customer saying how personable we are and how much we care about their learning and their business. We are very focused on our customer and their needs and we will guarantee satisfaction because we only want to get paid if we are being of service.
A customer told me once… I learned more from you in one half hour than I have learned from anyone over the last 5 years. This training was to a new customer in BC utilizing GotoMeeting. When this customer started their training session with me they were very direct with what they wanted and communicated their goals upfront. I went about being as direct in my delivery and showing them how to achieve those goals.
Because we are a small business I believe that we can adapt the changing needs of our customer more quickly and provide more ways for the customer to get value.
When a customer approaches us for training we assess their needs and we are very clear on what we can provide to them. If we feel they would be better served with a basic computer course – we will refer them elsewhere. We know what we can do and how we can help a customer – we do not need to grab every customer, we need to focus on the ones that need our help the most. There is plenty of business to around.
We partner and work with other Business leaders in our industry. We sub-contract and partner with Priority Management (Edmonton) and we sub-contract and partner with Cencomp Systems Solution. Having these business relationships adds valuable resources, support and expertise to our business. We love the collaborative nature of these relationships.
An Obstacle and how we have overcome it
As a small business one of our obstacles is having enough time to do everything we want to do.
We continually work to overcome this by prioritizing our work, hiring other contractors to help us out with the delivery of some of the training and we also look to out-sourcing any administrative tasks that are onerous.
Special Thanks to
These people and these businesses have been instrumental in Mission's success and we are very honored to have Don and Curtis as Business Colleagues and Friends!