Review your operations through the lens of the customer

Before, during and post-pandemic businesses should be continuously looking for opportunities to improve processes. If your business has grown rapidly or stayed the same, the way our employees and customers feel and what they expect has shifted; but do you know what that looks like?

Businesses have been impacted by a requirement to adjust internal systems and processes, there is an expectation to be able to offer high levels of service at all times, coupled with the expectation to retain our existing workforce, our talent that are striving to provide high levels of customer service, that are quite frankly in a world where your competitors are offering amazingly unique offers to attract new employees

So how do you go about reviewing your processes?

One solution is to work with customer experience specialists who could deliver a customer audit, often referred to as a customer touchpoint review or CX.

A quick and dirty customer audit that you could do yourself is to take a cross-section of tasks from all cross-functional departments and immerse yourself in every step of each and every possible process of when your customer touches your business.

Review all external and internal activity and track every single step/touch that your customers experience. Follow it… “through your business from one point, to the next, to the next, to the end” and map it out. It’s amazing what this exercise reveals!!

Another solution to capturing insight that will enable you to make change and improve processes is to carry out a customer satisfaction survey and a more detailed employee engagement survey.

Ask your customers and your employees what they think? Wouldn’t you rather be specific?

What should I expect to find out if I carry out a customer audit?

  1. A detailed operations review and customer audit will establish the true Impact to business as usual, revealing time wasted, money being spent, and mistakes being made
  2. Taking a deep dive into the situation will uncover the actual disruption to daily operations, impact on team morale and the truth of your customer satisfaction. We call this noise!
  3. Insight will highlight and amplify process workarounds, process bottle necks and increased workloads that your teams are working hard to firefight on a daily basis

How will a customer audit help my business?

  • Realising a compelling view of the existing customer experience and the internal ‘noise’ that employees are experiencing will provide operational efficiency opportunities
  • New and amended procedures will increase employee engagement and improve response rates to queries and orders, and speed up the task to completion time for customers 
  • Improved telephony and email processes will result in improved communication and service for customers, meeting their expectations
  • A defined customer experience process and culture, embedded into your business will provide a closer relationship with customers than ever before and increase employee morale, creating that “great place to work feeling”
  • Efficiencies gained across the business will improve the handling of customer enquiries, reduce complaints and will improve customer satisfaction ratings and therefore increase customer retention
  • Identification of product or supplier failures will improve cost control

What other collaborative process improvement methodologies are out there?

You may have heard of businesses becoming Agile (DSDM established the agile approach in 1995). The Agile manifesto sees values in all of the following, however values the ones on the left more…

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

What we enjoy about Agile is the style of working which is that it’s collaborative. It allows flexibility, working closely with the customer (customer being internal and external) through the process, ensuring the solutions actually do meet the needs of the business. Best of all recognising that horizons change as you make change and to hold back on decisions about detail with this in mind.

Businesses are learning more and more from Lean Six Sigma which originated from Toyota and Motorola and offers collaborative Improvement methodologies. It’s not just about removing waste from processes without thinking it through, it is about understanding what customers see as value; anything that is not value is deemed as waste and can be tweaked.

The customers voice is referred to as VOC and the business has a voice too, VOB.

So, if your customer or the businesses “needs it” and truly does, this equals value.

A couple of our favourite improvement methodologies are:

3Cs – Concern, Cause and Correct

  • Concern – Identify, understand and articulate the problem and realise what it is that needs to be addressed
  • Cause – Identify the root cause and the best solution
  • Correct – Implement the agreed/chosen solution and process to maintain

Kaizen Kai + Zen

Continuous, small, incremental improvements by everyone. Everyone is from senior management teams to cleaners. “Everyone” is encouraged to continuously improve and make suggestions regularly.

Kaizen is not about making major change, it is based on making little but regular change and always improving productivity and effectiveness, safety and controls whilst reducing waste. You would have heard the term “change for the greater good”.

Why is the root cause important?

Once you identify waste and decide that you want to reduce it or remove it completely, it’s important to know where it originated from. If it sits within the business and with employees, if issues are not addressed properly through training and follow up, issues will creep back into your business

What if the issues originate from a supplier, an item poorly manufactured?

Defining the source will allow you to focus on removing the source or agreeing to accept the waste.

So, whether you do it yourself, or get the experts into work with your curious leaders to lift up rocks, shake the tree and deliberately look for ways to improve operations a customer audit and customer/employee surveys are a great start.

Charlotte Green
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Charlotte Green

Charlotte is a leadership and management specialist, offering coaching, training, mentoring, employee and customer insight, along with associated business consultancy. She is driven by a firm belief that harnessing the input of clients, customers and employees, is a super valuable resource for every business. Charlotte is passionate about personal development, leadership resilience and customer experience and believes her clients already have great people, services and products -and it's often small adjustments or adaptations, rather than massive changes that help to realise your targets.