by Ian King, Manufacturing Growth Lead
Many people associate continuous improvement with eliminating waste, working smarter and business transformation. And they’re right.
However, continuous improvement can also boost business profitability through improved customer service. Continuous improvement systems, such as Lean have been shown to improve customer satisfaction by 75%.
View your operations from your customer’s perspective
Loyal customers spend more and are more likely to recommend the company. Therefore, making customers more loyal should be a major focus – and to do this we need to look at process from a customer experience perspective.
What to know more about the benefits of continuous improvement and Lean (and how to sell these benefits to your business’ leadership)? Watch our slideshare
When we look at processes, we must take an outside-in view. The process does not start and end at the front door of the company. It’s up to the company to influence and manage as much of the customer journey process as they can outside of their own traditional view.
For example, I recently helped a company redesign their entire Special Products Inquiry system to go from over a week to 24 hours when it came to responding to custom orders. In terms of the company’s productivity, there were no enhancements in terms of ‘doing more with less’, but from the customer’s perspective, this was a big improvement that will no doubt reap benefits with customer satisfaction.
This required no new investment – just a new approach to looking at questions like:
- What activities does the customer value, not value, want or need? See example table below:
- How does the process flow throughout the company? This can be done by using customer journey mapping. Identify the moments of truth then via various methods e.g. customer satisfaction surveys, direct feedback etc.; plot the way a customer feels at each point. This then highlights areas for improvement in the whole customer journey experience.
- Is there a way to combine people and steps in a more optimum manner? Using techniques like value stream mapping can help you understand the current process lead time and investigate tools and techniques that can help reduce time spent.
- Is there a way to reduce or totally remove activities from the process? Using process mapping and operator surveys can help you understand waste in the current process and ways it can be reduced.
By focusing on the customer journey with your product and your supply chain, you are often able to find ways to make you operations more efficient and remove friction points from your customer’s experience.