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Andy Steuer
By Andy Steuer #customer_experience September 26, 2018

Process excellence is about effectiveness and efficiency.  By designing a system that trains, manages, and measures process against benchmark goals, it creates a life cycle of continuous improvement.  It provides for consistent quality while minimizing waste.

The entire organization benefits, and so do your customers.

Benefits Of A Process Excellence Team

Employee and stakeholders are working towards established goals, so everyone knows what is expected of them and how they will be judged.  There is a priority set on doing things right and doing them the right way. There is also a focus on regular training to help staff grow.

When implemented, it creates a shared culture among employees with a sense of mission.  It creates more engaged employees by incorporating them into the process of improving efficiency.  A process excellence team will be able to target the things that get in the way of a smooth process, which means less frustration for team members.

Instead of being passive, it encourages everyone to actively participate in the process of improvement.  It gives team members a sense of pride and accomplishment when suggestions are implemented to make things easier for everyone.  It has been proven to lower employee turnover.

Implementing the best customer service practices has at its core, understanding where the customer finds value and deliver on it.  A continuous improvement program will identify these values at key points in the customer experience and maximize service.

Once established, the culture will recognize and reward achievement.  It builds into the culture the need to evolve. Change, in pursuit of growth, becomes less difficult for teams since it will be part of the evolution.  In addition to engaged team members, employees will continually learn new competencies and have growth opportunities.

The Life Cycle of Continuous Improvement

It starts with mapping workflows and developing benchmarks for service or product delivery

Phase 1 – Process Baseline

The Process Excellence team needs to identify the baseline of current performance and document processes and workflow.  Then, the team will develop performance metrics and scorecards to assess current performance. This initial analysis will help to set benchmark goals for incremental improvements.  Scorecards are delivered to track performance against the benchmarks.

Throughout the process, it is important the key members involved in the process are part of the discussion.  This creates buy in by the entire team in pursuit of a shared goal. It can be frustrating as an employee when goals are set for you by managers, especially if you believe them to be out of reach.  When employees are part of developing the goals, they commit to meeting them.

Phase 2 – Performance Optimization

Through the measurement process, team members are on the lookout for ways to improvement consistency and efficiency.  The team becomes engaged in identifying places where the process slows down. By identifying and fixing outliers, you continually speed up operations.

Regular reviews can identify the root cause of stumbling blocks for efficient operations and assess solution to lift overall performance.

Phase 3 – Process Reengineering

At some point in the process, you may find that you have optimized performance and it becomes difficult to attain significant increases.  That’s where process reengineering comes into play. In this phase, you will start backwards from the objective to re-think the process.

It can take the form of redesign a phase or segment of the process, or it make be a radical redesign of core delivery systems.  While examining customer service best practice models in the industry may identify new ways of thinking, it’s more often a “blank sheet” approach with a total customer focus.  Key reengineering methods might include redesign departments into cross-functional teams or using data in decision making rather than relying on people.

In the financial industry, for example, when some lenders became overwhelmed with mortgage applications and found their team of evaluators could not keep up with demand, they reengineered the process and created software to evaluate potential borrowers.  Applications were screened in a non-biased way based on criteria established using years of data. People became involved once the valid applications were pre-screened by the software. This cut down on wasted time and improve loan repayment rates.

After reimaging the process, the life cycle starts over again with process map analysis, establishing benchmarks and scorecards, and measuring performance against goals.

Your Customer Services Best Practice Guide

You customer service best practice guide should incorporate these techniques.  By creating a culture of continual improvement, your customer service will improve throughout each customer touchpoint.  You will eliminate waste in the process, keep team members engaged, cut down turnover, and create a culture of performance.

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