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FiveStepstoHappierCustomers

Mike Fenocketti
Mike Fenocketti Transformative Food and Non-Profit Executive
2y San Francisco, CA, United States Story
Five Steps to Happier Customers

Knowing how to fix customer concerns is a valuable business skill. When customers are not fully satisfied with your products and services, that can mean lost sales, lower profits and damage to your brand reputation. Beyond reading and responding to customer reviews, you need to seek out customer input on where your cost, quality or speed needs improvement, and then make a plan to do it. Follow these five steps to make your customers happier:


1. Define the problem from your customer's perspective, then commit to improvement.

Start with empathy: How is your customer feeling about your product? What are her concerns? Quality problems? Late deliveries? Price increases? Remember, she doesn't (and shouldn't) care about the issues you are having with your internal business processes that you use to create the product or service she bought. Then, write down a plan to address the problem. That plan may be modified later, but all good improvement projects start with documenting the problem and making a commitment to get better.

2. Compare your current performance to your customer's expectations.

This is where good data is critical. Customer comments are great for getting ideas, but if you're hearing complaints about late deliveries, for example, then you need to dig further into your data to see how often your customers are experiencing delays and when do they occur. Then gather data on the steps in your process that could be contributing to these delays.

3. Determine where to focus your improvements.

Data will help you prioritize where to spend your time fixing your processes. You will probably uncover a few key issues that are driving most of the problems, and those will be where you focus. When objective data is impossible to get, you may need to rely on the expert judgment of your team instead, but be careful to include diverse backgrounds and perspectives in the mix to identify the best ideas for making a real improvement.

4. Test your improvements and confirm they meet your customer's expectations.

Ideas are great, and data helps gives you confidence that you are focused on improving the right things. But then you also need to test out your improvements to make sure that they can deliver the expected benefits to your customers. During the test, everything may work out great. Or you may see no benefit at all, which means you need to revisit Step 3 and reevaluate your solution ideas or where you focused your energy.

5. Manage the change to ensure the improvement will last.

Change management takes time. Improvement plans can unravel, and customer concerns reappear, if you wrap up the project too quickly, before changes to your business processes are institutionalized as culture change. Take the time to document and communicate the changes, roll out the improvements that worked, and monitor your performance.

 

Here is a more detailed roadmap for solving the problems with your business processes that are making your customers unhappy.

1. Define the problem from your customer's perspective, then commit to improvement.

  • State which outputs of your process are most critical to customer satisfaction.
  • Make a plan including initial guesses at problem size and possible causes.

2. Compare your current performance to your customer's expectations.

  • Measure your outputs and key process steps using validated metrics.
  • Look at the data to see your current and recent best performance.
  • If your problems are sporadic, start a preventive plan with your team.
  • If delays are the issue, draw a clear picture of your process with your team.

3. Determine where to focus your improvements.

  • Confirm your data was not skewed and not impacted by unusual events.
  • Sort out which process steps have the most impact on your outputs.
  • Establish the accurate mental model for your process.
  • If your problems are sporadic, identify preventive options with your team.
  • If delays are the issue, identify process streamlining options with your team.

4. Test your improvements and confirm they meet your customer's expectations.

  • Optimize the key steps by trial runs or simulation using your mental model.
  • If your problems are sporadic, executive preventive actions with your team.
  • If delays are the issue, execute process streamlining with your team.
  • Test your optimized process and measure outputs and key steps.
  • Confirm that the test process achieves the desired improvement.

5. Manage the change to ensure the improvement will last.

  • Document your new process including how to prevent errors.
  • Verify the desired improvement is being maintained over time.
  • Assign responsibility for further improvements to a permanent owner.
  • Publish and share the project insights and results.

My intent is to be thought-provoking and idea-generating. Whether you share these visions and are trying to pursue them, or you have a completely opposite view, let’s keep the conversation going at www.leangreenwolverine.com or @mikefenocketti.

© 2016 Lean Green Wolverine™ LLC


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Mike Fenocketti
Transformative Food and Non-Profit Executive

I lead organizations to achieve sustained operational excellence, drive innovative growth strategies, deliver exceptional customer service, develop high performing teams and leaders, and translate in-depth analysis into executive action. I genuinely engage diverse stakeholders to bridge competing [...]

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