Establish a culture of continuous service improvement

Blog
May 20 2015

Every company wants to offer the best possible service, outrun their competitors and gain market share. However, this is easier said than done. Customers are actually more demanding and expect an incomparable quality of service. In response to these expectations, it is essential to constantly look to improve the service efficiency. Whether you are a manager or part of the customer service team, this improvement quest is a journey, not a fixed destination.

Many have realized this and apply it every day; for example, banking organizations focus more now on activities for continuous improvement in terms of customer service, including its importance and customer retention benefits. Manufacturing firms are continually trying to raise the level of productivity and change their production methods. Broadly, the businesses who offers services values increasingly continuous improvement of services delivered to internal users or ultimately to the attention of external customers.

To guide you in this continuous quest, here is some basic information on the concept:

What is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous improvement is a process that allows us to constantly evolve and improve work processes by implementing a simple change.

It generally includes four steps that must constantly be performed:

Step 1: Plan the project; generally present the problem and develop a clear action plan for all

Step 2: Complete the project; achieving the various deliverables by ensuring good communication

Step 3: Measure results; evaluate performance indicators and diagnose areas for improvement with this audit

Step 4: Improve and evolve; capitalize on the evolutionary potential and act on the measures identified

3 recognized methods: Kaizen VS Lean VS Six Sigma 

There is no one right method. Depending on your business environment and your teams in place, one method may be more appropriate. The adaptation of these methods may also be effective, they are used as reference or framework. Some will apply in details the methods while smaller organizations will simply be inspired by it. It is important you listen and properly assess your needs and objectives in terms of continuous improvement before starting the implementation of new processes / methods.

Kaizen:

  • Is a process of concrete improvements, simple and inexpensive.
  • Is first of all a state of mind that requires the involvement of all stakeholders
  • Mainly used in business processes

Lean :

  • Eliminates waste to standardize the production process
  • Increases the overall quality of the manufactured product or offered service.

Six Sigma :

  • Analysis method using various formulas to identify gaps in processes, identify waste. The main one being the calculation of the standard deviation.
  • Aims to better control the process improving its quality in a more profound and sustained

Its importance, its role and benefits

Continuous improvement leads to short and long term benefits. By measuring beforehand, here are some benefits that apply to the establishment of such a practice.

  • Development processes at all levels
  • Improved overall performance and results
  • Cost reduction for the company by removing anomalies or prevention.
  • Increased productivity

Steps to the success of the establishment of a culture of continuous improvement

As we mentioned earlier, there are many ways and methods to continuously improve. Here are 5 major steps fairly common on which you can base you.

# 1 Must be a willingness to change on the part of senior management. These must bear / endorse the establishment of this culture.

# 2 Involvement of people at all levels and train them.

# 3 Use the facts and concrete data

# 4 Use the appropriate method each situation (standard deviation, cause and effect diagram, scatter plot, stress vs return)

# 5 Put under the PDCA (plan, do, check, act) to stimulate continuous improvement

It also requires better service management

As stated earlier, continuous improvement and service quality go together. Service management frameworks known in the industry - such as ITIL - show the CSI (Continual Service Improvement) as an important stage of the service life cycle. Although all organizations do not entirely apply the principle, potential solutions and key improvements can be useful. Reduce resolution time, provide faster response time and respect service level agreements (SLAs) compliance are just a few examples of continuous improvement targets as part of good service management practice (ITSM).

Continuous improvement: A way of thinking

Continuous improvement is a way of thinking that must come from the management of a company and which must receive support to be applied at all levels in order to fully optimize the process. Different methods can be used independently but as they are very interrelated it is very interesting to use combined methods. However, it is essential to apply the right methods and properly identify which apply to our situation as only one method does not apply to all organizational analyzis.