Kaizen – Your ticket to Customer Experience success!

CloudCherry | Featured | August 23, 2016

“To improve is to change; To be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill.

Operational excellence is the most sought after yet one of the most elusive business goals. “How do we do this?” “What is that needs to be done in order for us to step onto the next level?” These are questions that chase every organization, but how is it that some businesses master the art of great progress without any massive structural or strategical changes?

One of the foremost drivers of progress is continuous change and upgradation of processes. Businesses, today, are evolving at an unprecedented pace and the only thing keeping the better ones in the race is their thirst to constantly up their ante and outperform the laggards. If this is the norm, then what is it that we can do to ensure that complacency doesn’t set in?

Kaizen.

The concept of Kaizen is, in effect, very simple. It aims at constantly improving functions within the organization in pursuit of perfecting every process. Don’t be misled by the simplicity of the concept as this philosophy has been proven effective in dozens of industries & study areas – healthcare, automotive, banking and also in Customer Experience Management (CEM).

This hardly comes as a surprise since the three basic principles guiding Kaizen are not so different from those of CEM’s. In fact, they are the same.
• Constant, continuous evolution
• Involvement of the entire organization
• Empowering cross-functional teams to challenge the status-quo

The 4 phases of a typical Kaizen solution

A typical Kaizen cycle involves the following 4 stages: P.D.S.A

Plan. Do. Study. Act

PLAN: Take a step back and assess your processes objectively. Identify the exact painpoint you wish to address and establish the objectives.

DO: After having isolated the one aspect you wish to improve in a particular process, roll out the plan of action on a small-scale first. Observe the efficacy of your plan before implementing it pan-organizationally.

STUDY: There’s no scope for improvement without assessment. Study the impact that the implementation of your plan has had on the process to check if your objectives have been met.

ACT: The process of Kaizen does not end with merely analysing the impact. Necessary action need to be taken to ensure that the objectives are met and in turn, this loophole which has been rectified becomes the new standard, the benchmark for the organization.

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Expression of P-D-S-A in Customer Experience

This is best examined with a possible real-life situation. Say you are the owner of a busy ‘round the corner bistro and despite your best efforts you are just not able to reach the pinnacle of customer experience. Your customers are happy, yes but you know there’s still a gap in your system which is hindering the process of ultimate delight provision. What do you do? You decide to turn to Kaizen.

Here’s how things would unfold with the PDSA cycle:

• Upon interacting with a few regulars and analysing your customer feedback, you come to the conclusion that the “promptness of service” aspect has scope for improvement.

• As the business owner, you spearhead this project of finding out why ‘promptness of service’ is being compromised.

• Your PLAN phase has already begun with you knowing what the issue is, isolating it from the rest of the operations and setting the goal to rectify that specific issue at hand.

• Next, you ‘DO’. With the focus now resting on the single issue of ‘promptness of delivery’, pay close attention to what’s happening that is causing the delay and fix it.

• Now, STUDY the different things that you’ve picked up on and rectified to make sense of the issue as a whole. Understand the gaps and make sure they are filled.

• Lastly, ACT on your findings. Implement long-term resolutions and observe their progress. Once accomplished, this becomes your status quo, which of course, will be challenged soon enough in order to raise the standards of the process.

Potential challenges to your Kaizen project

Well, despite being a great idea in theory, from a practical view-point, Kaizen too suffers from a few challenges and these are just a few of the No-Nos you should watch out for…

1. You plan, you define your goals but don’t care enough to follow through.

2. You make it a team-based mission as opposed to an organization-wide one. (Counter-productive, it is!)

3. You try to shoot multiple issues with a single kaizen bullet. (One step at a time – One problem at a time.)

4. You spend way too much time in the “study” phase because you take into consideration every single parameter you think affects the performance of the process. (Stick to your objectives and study only those things that are steering you away from that particular goal.)

5. You settle for the outcome after a single cycle of kaizen. (Remember, success is a constantly in motion and the only way there is to build a cyclical process around it!)

Regardless of what industry you’re a part of, if you aren’t striving to beat the best practices, you’re going to fizz out sooner or later. The only way to keep the show alive is to better your game, one day at a time, one customer at a time, one issue at a time – and THIS is what kaizen is all about.

If you feel like you are game for some status-quo-shattering, operational-success-guaranteeing opportunity, wait no more!

Your Kaizen Guide to Customer Experience