How to improve service delivery requires the involvement of both employees and customers in providing input on changes that they would want to be effected to the business model. It is important for the top management to bring every brain into the game.
Gather Employee Input
There is a risk of ideas walking out of the door if you do not have a formal routine to prompt members of your team to share their experiences. The worst-case scenario is workers missing an opportunity to contribute and feel good about it. At a minimum, all executives and middle managers should have a Start/Stop/Keep conversation with at least one employee weekly (what should we start doing, stop doing, keep doing).
You should give priority to frontline employees who work directly with customers and those newest to the company. New employees tend to have fresh eyes that lead them to notice things longer-term employees have come to accept. Have a formal process of capturing feedback and pay a lot of attention to the “stop and start doing” responses.
A formal employee suggestion process enables you to act on the “start” or “stop” ideas. Plan to collect employee input regularly. You can plan to take input weekly for project-based work and fortnightly for process/routine-based work. Collect input from employees both about obstacles and opportunities.
The aim of gathering input from employees is to find out how best to improve the efficiency of operations such as increasing revenue, reducing costs, and making something easier/better for the customers or employees. To make the employee input collection process successful, the management needs to close the loop and act on their suggestions, or else ideas will backfire on the company. The least the management can do is to let an employee know why an idea can’t be implemented.
To ensure that all the suggestions are acted upon and feedback provided:
- Create a system where the management team is accountable for responding to employees’ feedback on all obstacles and opportunities. This is a form of RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted & informed) chart that you can use to assign the suggestions.
- It is important to track how long it takes to implement the ideas gathered from your employees. A response, whether positive or negative, should be provided on each suggestion.
- Be transparent by having open sessions where feedback is given on ideas raised and suggestions. Use internal newsletters to publish updates. Allow employees to give anonymous suggestions if they are not comfortable providing their identity.
Gather Customer Input
One of the biggest mistakes that an organization can make is having a leadership team that does not interact with customers or end-users of their product or service. A management team that looks at customers as just numbers without interacting with them ends up crafting strategies that do not resonate with the needs of the customer. All executives and middle managers should be implored to have conversations with customers.
The minimum is for the top management to have a conversation with at least one end-user weekly. There are four key questions that they should seek to obtain answers for in person and not by a survey from the end-user. Here are the four questions:
- How are you doing? – This question seeks to find out insight into customer pain points and priorities as well as how best the business can meet the changing customer needs. Customizing your products and/or services to meet customer needs helps the management to reach their target.
- What’s going on in your industry/neighborhood? Answer – This question provides insight into trends in the industry and helps the management to know new ways to improve service delivery.
- What do you hear about our competitors? There is a tendency for the management of organizations to come up with solutions that have no touch with reality. This question is very important as it helps you cut through your own biases and correct any misconceptions that might be there.
- How are we doing? This is the last question and focuses on how they are doing as the conversation is about them.
All these efforts are geared towards customer retention. Research shows that if organizations were able to hold on to the customers they lose due to neglect, it could fuel half of their growth. About 20% of the weekly meeting should focus on customer feedback and how to respond. These insights from conversations with customers act as good pointers on how to continuously move with the market trends and changing preferences.
When gathering market intelligence, involve all employees (Especially Salespeople). The more market intelligence you have, the higher the chances of winning against your competitors. Create a culture among your team of gathering and reporting market intelligence in all of your sales channels; your salespeople, distributors, and independent representatives.
The ideal culture is to have a real-time update on any positive sales result. One way is to require all staff, especially customer-facing employees, to call in daily to a voice mailbox and leave a three-minute update on any positive sales result. These should include feedback from customers and about competitors and reports on barriers they are facing in making sales. It may be impractical to obtain daily written reports.
Net Promoter Scores (NPS) – The NPS measures the net percentage of your customers who are actively promoting your brand and spreading the good word about your company. A positive NPS is a good indicator of customer satisfaction.
How to improve service delivery involves all the employees regardless of rank. This should be a collective effort of the executive, middle managers, and all cadre of employees. It requires having an ear on the ground and getting to hear real-time customer feedback, responding quickly, and staying ahead of the competition by gathering a lot of market intelligence.