Tag Archives: continuous improvement

Continuous improvements

continuous improvement

Making Continuous Improvements

When I’m working with clients on developing their service culture and refining their customer experience, it’s inevitable it’s going to involve making changes.

It’s often been said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”,*

These changes usually involve changes for team members too.

Sometimes though, this presents a problem.

People generally don’t like change, particularly when they’ve been doing a job in the same way for years.

One of the objections I hear time and again is:

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude? It would mean a pit stop would still take 60 or 70 seconds instead of the 2-3 seconds it takes today!

Of course, these changes don’t happen overnight, they are incremental, but if you need to make changes you need to get buy-in.

There’s a multitude of reasons why people are reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be wary of change, even when it is about continuous improvements. Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re just as likely to have people who’ll resist any change to their old comfortable way of doing things.

One of the first things is to explain why. Why the change. Not why it’s important from a business perspective, but focusing on the benefits from the team member’s perspective – the “WIIFM” i.e. what’s in it for me?

What they really want to know is how it will impact them.

We might believe the benefits are obvious. But they will often focus on the negatives first.

Here we go again! Something new to learn; it will mean more work; I’m too old to change; it’s too complicated; we tried it before and it didn’t work, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it;

Help your team realise what they will gain from continuous improvements. Will it make my job easier? Will it make things quicker so I finish earlier; Will it free up time to focus on other things that are important to me? Will it mean fewer complaints? Will it mean more tips? Will it make my job more enjoyable? Will it make me more confident? Will it give me more pride in the job I do?

I can’t

If, even when we’ve sold them on the idea of changing you still can’t guarantee you’ll get buy in. Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why. https://www.naturallyloyal.com/i-cant-do-that/

Take action

Next time you ask someone to change the way they do something and they turn around and say “but, we’ve always done it this way” give them a compelling enough reason to change and the support they need to do it the ‘new’ way.

Remember old habits die hard, so continue to encourage, support and guide them whilst they embed their new habits

p.s. * Whilst writing this post I was curious to find out who actually said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Was it Einstein, Mark Twain or Ben Franklin? Well, it seems there is no evidence of any of them saying it!


When you stop noticing the cracks

25 years!cracks

It’s 25 years this week since we moved into our house. There aren’t many things we haven’t changed; the whole layout of the rooms, we’ve added an extension and we’ve extended into the roof space.

But it’s taken this long to put up a sign outside with the house name (this was something we said we would do before we even moved in, and yes, it has taken us 25 years!). And three years to fix a broken tile in our kitchen doorway.

You see, the thing is, the longer you live with something the more you become accustomed to it being that way. We simply stop noticing the cracks. And in the case of the kitchen tile we just automatically stepped over it.

And this can happen in a business too. There can be a gradual decline: the fabric of your building, the morale of your team, the speed of response for a customer. When it’s gradual we don’t notice it.

And once it’s been a certain way for any length of time unless it causes us a major inconvenience we simply get used to things that way.

So what are the cracks in your business which could be impacting your teams well-being or productivity, or your customers experience?

Even when you stop noticing these things if they have an impact on your team or your customers you can be sure that they won’t have stopped noticing.

So ask the question

Ask your team where there are ‘cracks’ in your business: in your systems, with your equipment, in your customers’ journey. Listen to their views to flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a great job or impacts the customer in some way.

This often highlights frustrations they have in the system or with current resources, levels of authority, existing skills or conflicting priorities.

Ask them to suggest better ways of doing things. Not only can this flag up things you may have been unaware of, if anything needs to change or it needs some effort on their part to make improvements they’ll be far more bought in to doing something well if they have initiated it.

The customer experience

Listen to what your team tell you about shortfalls in the customer journey; they’ll invariably spot where improvements can be made.

Many of your team are much closer to your customers than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience. So ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on them.

Ask your team to make an honest assessment and reflect on how they think customers currently feel at each of these key touch points.

If they aren’t sure ask them to reflect back on some of the conversations they’ve had with customers.

Arrange for each team member to take the customer journey themselves and see how it feels being on the receiving end.

If you’ve done this exercise with your team before, this time allocate team members to different departments to get a different perspective.  When it’s your own department it’s easy to become protective, oblivious to some of the challenges or frustrations customers may encounter. Reviewing another department can help flush out potential ‘blind spots’.

Ask your team to make a note of everything that isn’t quite perfect yet. It doesn’t mean to say you have to fix everything, but you can make a conscious decision as to which aspects you might put to one side for now and which need to be addressed as a priority.

It can be quite revealing what your team pick up; they’ll often spot things you don’t.

Keeping on top of maintenance

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. Encourage team members to report problems promptly when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged, rather than apportioning blame on them for causing the problem.

Have a process which makes this quick and easy. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to frustrations, and later accusations of whose fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Listen to what they have to say

Unless followed though promptly they won’t bother telling you next time.

The longer problems are left unresolved, the less emphasis it places on the importance of their welfare or the customer experience in their eyes and the less importance they will place on their contribution to your business.

Old habits die hard

If my kitchen floor is anything to judge by, the longer it’s taken to fix the problem the long it take for people to adjust to the new way.

I’m still stepping over the broken tile, even though it’s no longer there!

 


Continuous improvement in Customer Service

Here’s part 7 in my 12 blog series onbar-chart

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

 

7. Continuous improvement

Customer Service isn’t something you tick off your list. It’s continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

If you don’t do them already set up regular ‘buzz briefings’ which focus on customer service and continuous improvement, thus involving your team in discussions and spotting opportunities to improve service and make things easier for them to consistently deliver good service.

After all, many of them will spend more time with customers than you do and often spot things or hear things you might miss.

Each day (or as a minimum weekly) ask your team members for their feedback on the day to day operation and to come forward with suggestions on how things can be improved. Not just for the customer, but to make their lives easier too. Shaving 5 minutes off a task in one area can free up 5 more minutes to spend caring for customers elsewhere.

Even if you’ve tried something before and it hasn’t worked that doesn’t mean to say it’s not a good idea. Quash their ideas early on and they’ll be reluctant to come forward with suggestions in future.

 

Delivering great customer service is more than just a sheep dip exercise. read more here

 



Consistency +1%

graph

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…

 

Tip #3

Consistency +1%

Do what you say you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. Better still plus a little bit extra.

Everyone talks about going the extra mile, but in my book going the extra inch is enough as it gives you some leeway add something extra next time!

Whatever you deliver now effectively sets your promise for next time to. So ensure you’re able to maintain consistency, or consistency +1%