Business Optimization, Customer Satisfaction and ROI

Business Optimization, Customer Satisfaction and ROI

In the continuously evolving world of business, perfection is a moving target. Companies design processes to provide services, manufacture products, or deliver on promises to customers efficiently and effectively, within time and budget constraints. But in just the time between process design and implementation, the marketplace changes. Keep business optimization in mind to keep your organization moving forward.

It’s a virtual certainty that there’s room for improvement in even the most elegant process or system. Don’t rest on your laurels when it looks like things are humming along. Instead, to optimize business, examine the data and metrics you’ve gathered and see how your company is performing against expectations and against industry peers. With an open mind and expert guidance, you’ll find opportunities that can transform the organization.

Establish Business Optimization Goals

Ultimately, every company should seek greater customer satisfaction. A business optimization effort designed to increase customer satisfaction will increase your competitive advantage and may allow you to enter new markets. Of course, increased profitability is an eternal goal for any business. By continuously improving existing processes, a business optimization project can reduce costs, reduce defects, improve productivity, or increase revenues for a demonstrable return on investment.

Select Business Optimization Opportunities

As you pursue growth and improvement, the smartest first step is to engage a seasoned business optimization adviser. Your adviser’s objectivity and expertise will help you identify high-impact opportunities. Draw on your business intelligence – a combination of company key performance indicators, performance compared to your industry, and what you learn every day from customers. Work with your adviser to analyze this data annually with find high-potential, cross-functional areas for improvement that aligns with your long-term strategic goals.

Ensure Business Optimization Success

Business optimization begins with the right people and the right methodology. Your trusted advisor will help analyze your situation and identify improvement opportunities, but that shouldn’t be the end of the engagement. Maintain a consultative relationship between the advisor and the internal employees who developed the process that will be improved, and who will carry the business optimization forward.

Once you’ve identified the project, pursue business optimization by applying a systematic approach using the appropriate methodology. Six-sigma projects achieve long-term defect reduction where the final outcome may be unknown. Other opportunities may call for a more direct or immediate approach.

Gathering the right business optimization team is a critical piece of the puzzle. Seek out subject matter experts on the processes that will be addressed. Your team should be a blend of people with open minds who will consider alternative solutions, along with devil’s advocates who will keep the group grounded.

Be sure to establish controls in the project that will allow you to demonstrate improvement. Whether your investment is just the team’s time, or the significant expense of a new automated system, you must prove a return on that investment. Incorporate controls that will point out the project’s impact on business metrics such as increased productivity, reduced cost, or greater customer satisfaction. Proper controls will allow you to monitor progress along the way and make adjustments if needed. Ultimately, these controls will prove business optimization results, whether that means getting an under-performing organization up to target, or moving from satisfactory performance to an industry leadership position.

Finally, celebrate success. Business optimization is a time-consuming effort that deserves recognition. Honor the people involved and their achievements. In addition to raising team morale, you’ll build enthusiasm for the current successful project, and for future business optimization efforts.

Business Optimization, Customer Satisfaction & ROI – by Lucile Williams, Six Sigma Master Black Belt

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Making Customers Happy – Customer Care Mistakes on the Road to Customer Satisfaction

Making Customers Happy – Customer Care Mistakes on the Road to Customer Satisfaction

Improving the customer experience is a universal goal in business, right along with revenue growth and return on investment. But although we all know that customer care is the road to customer satisfaction, it can be difficult to navigate the journey. Knowing what to avoid can help you reach your destination more quickly and easily. Following are a few roadblocks to steer clear of in your pursuit of exceptional customer care.

Avoid indirect routing: As you chart your path to customer satisfaction, the most direct route is the most effective. Customer care cannot be a departmental initiative – it must be a company-wide vision that starts at the top. Don’t allow your organization’s customer care mission to be seen as the responsibility of any single group. Rather, insist on a commitment to quality linking everyone to the customer, from C-level executives to front-line staff.

No bad drivers: The customer care agents who respond to customers are the face of your organization: don’t let the wrong hires damage your reputation. Make sure your hiring criteria emphasize customer empathy and a commitment to serve. Train employees to see every situation from the customer’s point of view, and to listen closely to assess the nature of the problem and relationship so they can give extra attention to your best customers. Reward employees who go the extra mile in customer care, for example, calling to tell the customer when a service technician is on the way. Impose consequences for failure to follow up.

No back-seat driving: No customer ever wants to be put on hold while an agent tracks down a manager for permission to do the right thing. Build a culture of empowerment in your company in which every customer care agent can resolve a customer problem without seeking an OK from on high. Give your customer care staff the authority to make customers happy.

Kick-the-can is not allowed: Do not allow a customer to be transferred from department to department in search of a resolution to his problem. Customer care demands one-stop shopping. Align goals across all departments and divisions so everyone knows that the goal is to delight the customer, not to get rid of him.

Are we there yet? (or: How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?) Failure to measure virtually guarantees failure to improve. Exceptional customer care can only be achieved through scrupulous measurement and management. Establish a baseline of satisfaction. For example, a service organization might determine that no customer should have to call with a problem more than twice a year, and offer some kind of compensation if that baseline is exceeded. Establish triggers that signal potential dissatisfaction and build them into customer records. Survey customers regularly to determine their level of satisfaction, and follow up to measure improvement after a customer care transaction. As problems are resolved, be sure that you measure total customer care response time, including time spent waiting for parts or service delivery.

Don’t forget regular maintenance: As we tend to customer care problems, it’s easy to lose sight of those who don’t appear on the daily radar. Recognize and reward good customers, even if they don’t experience problems. Thank them for their business through special offers and rewards.

Great customer care doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s a matter of avoiding the detours along the way and convincing your customers that you’re the only company they want to buy from. Going the extra mile and respecting your customer’s time and concerns will ensure a positive experience for the customer and long-term benefit for your company.

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