If you’ve already invested in quality using LEAN or other approaches yet your customer service team is STILL busy solving problems all day long, these actionable ideas and complementary resources will put more time back in your day and more profit on your bottom line. This month, take action to create more value for your customers and free up your customer service staff for higher-value efforts by tackling your quality woes.
How would your market react if they simply found every aspect of doing business with your company so easy and so enjoyable, in ways that they can’t quite put their finger on, that you became the gold standard against which all others are measured? What impact would it have on your culture if all the time your customer service group currently spends fixing things that have gone wrong was instead redirected to value-add activities? What would be possible for your business if you eliminated all the costs of fixing self-inflicted wounds by getting it right the first time? That’s what my ProfitU™ clients experience as they work through a step-by-step process.
To Improve Quality Maximize both parts of the Quality Equation
Most companies focus on the functional quality of their product, yet a more effective approach to Quality requires leveraging the hidden factor in the Quality Equation: Experiential Quality (EQ).
Perceived Quality = Functional Quality + Experiential Quality
Research shows that the 5 categories of service issues below are responsible for 80% of the quality issues that drive unnecessary costs-to-serve. When you improve quality and solve them for good, you’ll see an impact in every area of your business:
I recently purchased an online training program from an Inc 500 company and purchased one of their more comprehensive service offerings just a month or two later. I found out after the fact that what I’d already purchased was included with the new program. I had not accessed my original purchase, so I asked for a refund rather than pay for the same thing twice. Despite repeated and escalated requests, the same answer came back: no refunds after 30 days. The company had not incurred any costs of shipping or service. As a customer, I had not received any benefit from the initial purchase.
This was an example of policy and procedure trumping common sense, and it left a very bad taste in my mouth. There’s nothing wrong with the product quality – it’s terrific. But the sense of a major company behaving cheaply and unfairly is an empathy issue that hasn’t been resolved. They’ve harmed the long-term relationship for the sake of a small, short-term gain.
Work the 80-20 Rule
You can waste a lot of time trying to get everything perfect or you can have a significant impact when you work the 80-20 rule and focus on what customers are really noticing and objecting to. The good news is that most are self-inflicted wounds — areas where a failure by the company has caused the problem – and that means it’s within your control to take action! Want to know more? Let’s chat.
Quick, think of an unpleasant transaction or interaction you’ve experienced recently in your personal or business life. Issues with product or service quality are usually resolved (eventually) by the company. However, for many of us, the experience of procuring, using, and disposing of the products and services we buy or getting an efficient and effective resolution to a Functional Quality issue is the REAL “quality” problem that never gets addressed, just as I illustrated above. These problems include:
- Long wait times on hold.
- Needing to repeat the issue over and over again as it’s escalated.
- Too much elapsed time before a solution is found.
- The need to constantly follow up.
- A resolution that’s incomplete or simply doesn’t feel right.
Every time a customer has a Functional Quality problem, it triggers the logical left brain to start looking for alternatives and drives needless cost into your business to make it right.
Every time a customer has an Experiential Quality problem, you damage your brand and trigger their emotional and intuitive decision making triggers in their right brain to start looking at alternatives.
People know that things go wrong. But when you get the Customer Experience right, they’ll overlook almost any product or service issue, and shut down the “looking for alternatives” brain triggers. You’ll enhance your Reputation for Quality (not simply improve Quality), become the Gold Standard, and reduce costs to serve which frees up more time and improves profits.
Taking action to dramatically improve your overall Perceived Quality might seem like a “nice to do someday,” but who’s got time for that? You do if you have time for e-mail every day. The typical business person spends a minimum of 90 minutes every day in email. ProfitU(tm) customers spend just 90 minutes once a week to improve Quality issues, and they see impact. Here’s how you can take baby steps:
- Talk to your customer service team. Ask them to categorize the most frequent issues they’re tired of resolving.
- Then, solve them for good to create a better experience improve quality and decrease costs.
#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her #1 Best selling book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Roadmap to do it. Connect with Anne on LinkedIn.