We talked before about the Five Simple Starting Points for creating the greatest customer experience ever: 1) Focus inside out and look at your business the way a customer does, 2) Listen actively, 3) Measure everything from the customer's perspective, 4) Maximum joy is your new goal, and 5) Improve constantly.
Understanding measurement from the customer's perspective is reliably straightforward although achieving accurate, actionable measures is an obviously complex subject. We'll focus on the basic philosophy first; almost any of the various six sigma courses can then teach the mechanical details of statistically appropriate measurement.
Customer experience measures can be analyzed in two broad sets: satisfaction measures and process measures. Satisfaction measures collate the customer's self-reported perception of the service interaction; typically collected via a survey. Answers are usually reported on a 5 or a 10-point scale and capture the customer's somewhat arbitrary, but incredibly useful, assessment of whether the transaction, often relative to competitive experiences, was excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor. Process measures quantify error rates, cycle times, queue lengths, talk times, elapsed time to resolution and a thousand other attributes involved in actually responding to the inquiry, cataloging the problem and effectuating a resolution. So many items can be measured that it is vitally important to measure those things that are actually vital to the customer. Quality professionals refer to these as the "vital few," "the mighty minimum," "the quintessential essentials" -you get the picture.
The easiest way to figure out what these vital few are is to ask. There are professionals out there that can ask in a very rigorous and scientifically valid manner-enough expensive, but worth every penny. A small business can just ask their customers in two steps. First step, throw a few pizza parties, get 5-8 customers together at each one, and listen for an hour about what they think is important to them about your business.
Multi-voting is a great way to get dozens of ideas from everyone simultaneously. Find a room with a big blank painted wall. Give every attendee five sticky notes, a marker and ten minutes. Ask them to write one thing on each note they believe is important to them about your product or service and stick it on the wall. While they're sticking notes up walk around and clump duplicates together. Call time and then spend fifteen minutes talking together about the results; check where the clumps are appropriately aggregated.
Now give everyone three sticky notes each with a big "X" drawn on them. Ask everyone to spend another ten minutes and put their "X" 's on the clumps that they believe are the most important priorities for improvement. They can put all three "X"'s on one thing or three three things. Talk for the remaining time about those priorities and explore wherever there are any really interesting minor reports that might convince other's to change their priorities. Let people re-position their "X" 's if they have second thoughts-this is about engaging your customers, not arbitrary rules.
At the end of the hour you have a massive amount of data about how your customers think, what they think about, what bugs them the most, and where you should prioritize your improvement efforts. This is gold. It's not pure gold like you'd get a research specialist, but its massively powerful.
Remember, we said two steps. Second step, take these identified priorities and turn them into highly focused, actionable measures.
You'll need to do some translation. For a restaurant, people may say "hot food" is the most important item. They probably did not mean "hot bad food." They like your cook, but your front-end crew is understaffed, disorganized or undisciplined, so the food's sitting too long. Pretty easy to measure the queue a few times each night. At a bookstore people might pick "recommends good titles" as an item to improve. That's hard to measure as a process, but very easy as a management coaching opportunity. "Jim, when a customer asks for an exciting new novel, how do you handle that?" You attempt to hide your utter horror at Jim's answer. "So, Jim, let's role play a little bit about assessing which customers might not be into only anime and inuyasha."
Make sure your measures reflect the customer's perception and reality across the entire process. If customers say that "accurate orders" are the most important element for your supply company do not just measure the purchase order against the packing list. What if the customer was not given the right information to put on the purchase order? What if the contents of the box do not actually match the packing list? You need to find out what the error rate is at the customer, not in the individual steps of your internal process.
Keep in mind that the priorities are constantly changing. Many customers will not identify, as important, elements of your business that are doing well. Often what are identified are the problems. Once you fix those problems a new list will gradually appear. Interacting with the customers, updating their priorities and reflecting the new challenges in your measurements should be ongoing.
The most important, and most overlooked, part of customer measurement is actually doing something with the data. All you six sigma purists please forgive me, but you're much better off with high-level indicators that you're actually working on instead of dozens of low-level data collection points that are creating statistically significant graphs of your lack of progress. You know that 5-10% of the customers' steaks are thawing out in transit, put in a larger piece of dried ice first, figure out that its 5.7% second. With the right measures you might figure out that thicker insulation is a better solution than more ice, but you'd like to stop distributing salmonella bombs while that is being analyzed.
Copyright © 2007 Lotus Pond Media
Source by Steven Grant