Customer Retention – Are You Just Whisking It Past the Scanner?
One More in Our Series on Key Drivers of Business Value: The Customer Experience and Your Business Processes.
Listening to and integrating your customers’ (changing) needs and wants must be part of growing your business value over time.
I often discuss operational excellence, business process improvement and quality, or quality systems. What does “quality” mean?
From the dictionary: “high grade; great excellence”. But, based on what? Quality control: “a system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of quality in a product or service by carefully planning, continued inspection and corrective action where required.”
Business process improvement is important, but it should be so much more than a “stopwatch” exercise. On the receipt I just got at the grocery store, it showed how many items per minute the cashier was able to whisk past the scanner. It also showed how many customers per hour he was able to help.
I hope (and assume) that the grocery store is not doing this to “beat them up”, but to identify where the process varies from person to person and design ways to improve.
You work hard to deliver a “quality” product or service, but against what measure or standard? Are you and your staff deciding? When it is only an internal exercise, it leaves out the most important component. When you make improvements, are they improvements from the customer’s perspective?
Are you engaging your customers so that you can understand what that quality product and experience would be for them…as opposed to what you think it should be? Are you simply whisking your product or service more quickly through the scanner?
Listening to and integrating your customers’ (changing) needs and wants must be part of growing your business and building value over time. Customer engagement is critical.
Henry Ford was very successful but “You can have any color as long as it’s black” did not last. Even though a single color helped make Ford much more “efficient” (only one color to stock, good pricing because of bigger volume), “quality” for his customers meant providing what they wanted – colors beyond just black.
Have you asked your customers what they would like that is beyond just that one color? Have you been assuming too long? You’d be surprised at how integrating that kind of customer dialogue can surface fantastic ideas – those that will provide more of what your clients want as well as great ideas that you can apply throughout your business.
Whether you are making products in a factory or you are in the service industry, the value in this type of exercise is not just to do things faster but to make sure they support your strategy, planning and long-term goals. And, this has to take into account your customers.
Here is a real-life case study of a recent client project putting into place a full-blown ISO 9000 quality system, engaging customers and winning new business. This approach can be scaled up or down to fit the company size and needs. You do not have to implement ISO 9000 in order to engage your customers, work toward operational excellence and build the value of your organization.
Let us know if you would like to discuss integrating these ideas into your business or if you have a client who might benefit.
David Shavzin, CMC