Japan is renowned for impeccable customer service (as anyone who’s watched an apple get wrapped up like a crown jewel in a Tokyo grocery store will tell you). Their concept of ‘kaizen’ (constant improvement) is a fundamental reason for this, and the enduring success of conglomerates like Toyota, Honda and Sony.
From afar, you may think this trait is caused by something in the waters of Mt. Fuji, but interestingly, many in the know zovirax ointment coupon credit the work of an American engineer in the 1950s as the catalyst for this movement. W. Edwards Deming, an expert in the field of statistical process control, was sent by the US Government to Tokyo at the end of World War II to help Japanese industry recover. His philosophies helped drive an unprecedented economic miracle, as the country rose from ashes to become the world’s second largest economy, all in under a decade.
If his ideas could transform a nation, they just may improve your customer satisfaction rates.
In a nutshell, he believed that true customer success was an iterative process: find out what your clients want, build it, then test how happy it made them — over and over again. Customer delight shouldn’t be a one-time goal; rather, it’s a state of mind in successful organizations. This mindset NEVER goes out of fashion — American Express, Zappo’s and Southwest Airlines continue to build brand advocates on a daily basis, by doing just that.
You can, too, in just three easy steps. Follow these words of wisdom from Demings, and turn your current dilemmas into future success.
Deming emphasized measuring and testing to predict results, but very few companies have any idea what goes on with the average front desk phone call. That’s a shame, as that first exposure sets a prospect’s expectation of what your service will be like — and whether or not they’ll choose you at all. No matter how much time and money you spend on marketing, there’s a moment of truth when a member of your customer support staff will pick up that first call and either make or break your future, quite literally.
The best companies in the world do NOT leave this to chance. When you call Apple, or Amazon, and hear ‘This call may be recorded’, it’s for this specific reason: so they can inspect the service levels of their agents. Knowing what types of questions customers ask allows them to adjust their offerings. Hearing what their receptionists say lets them give praise where appropriate, or correct gently when needed. Additionally, knowing a call is being recorded tends to bring the best behavior out of phone attendants. If you’re serious about success, this isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.
Improvements in technology have made call recording very affordable; it’s no longer just something big businesses can afford. For our readers in the healthcare community, our parent company has a product called My Doctor Calls (www.MyDoctorCalls.com) that is a turnkey solution for call recording and tracking (so you know which ads are making you money, and which are a waste of budget). As the name implies, it’s designed for doctors, but will work with any small business; check it out if you don’t have a current solution in place.
Edison said ‘There is no substitute for hard work’, but Demings believed that if your process was smarter, perhaps you wouldn’t have to work so hard. He believed you need to know more, always, about everything in your system. If you suspect your customer service standard is leaky, what better way to find out than to become a customer yourself?
For most of us, turning our shops into ‘Undercover Boss’ isn’t feasible (they’d see right through that wig and glasses, anyway). Instead, turn to mystery shoppers to give you inside intelligence on what it feels like to be your own client. A mystery shopper is someone who either calls or visits your business and pretends to be a prospect (when they’re really evaluating the performance of your staff). After the call or visit, a report is filed on categories like friendliness, product knowledge and professionalism.
You can outsource this task to independent firms, or do some call testing yourself if you have a call recording solution in place. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes; you may be shocked by what you find.
Pride in work, joy in work…I hope we’ve all felt it at some point in our careers. When you feel happy, and appreciated, don’t you tend to do a better job? Demings saw this to be a fact across his years studying business, and firmly believed in developing programs that enabled this type of happiness. As someone whose philosophy was responsible for some of the greatest corporate wealth ever created, you’d assume he was all about the bottom line and profit at all cost, right? You’d be mistaken. He believed an emphasis on short-term profits was a deadly disease, as was evaluation by performance, merit rating or annual review. He believed in driving out fear from an organization, so that everyone could work more effectively for the company. He believed that placing blame on a workforce was backwards, as the worker is generally only responsible for 15% of the mistakes: the faulty system designed by management is responsible for 85% of unintended consequences.
In short, he believed in a happy workplace.
He believed that an engaged workforce helped sense faults faster, and led to more lasting change — which was his ultimate goal. He was after product quality, not quality inspection, and believed that once you built quality in to the product, you would eliminate the need for massive inspection while constantly decreasing cost. It’s the Holy Grail of business operations — but achieving it requires workers who enjoy what they do, so they feel a sense of ownership over results.
Once you have call recording and mystery shopping built in to your process, you’ll have regular information that will allow you to adjust your process for your customers AND your staff. As you seek to constantly improve your product for the marketplace, also seek to constantly improve working conditions within your organization. Treat your team with dignity and respect, and they’ll return that favor tenfold.
Additionally, emphasize peak performances with rewards. Remember, though, that these rewards don’t always have to be monetary in nature. Different personalities respond to different forms of acknowledgement, and you should strive to know your staff well enough to understand who prefers what. A flat-screen TV or iPad might be nice for Sally, but Joe may just want a day off to spend with his boys. Involve your team when you conceive a reward scheme; you’ll be amazed at the results when everyone’s interests are aligned.