How to Deliver Better Customer Service with Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology which was introduced in 1986 and focuses on enhancing quality by eliminating defects in any process. It involves gathering and analyzing data to improve processes in companies. Today, several companies apply six sigma so that business processes remain consistent, meeting customer needs. The aim is to reduce defects to no more than 3.4 per million. Six Sigma is divided into two methodologies, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify). While the DMADV approach is commonly used for designing new products or process designs, DMAIC, Six Sigma’s primary methodology, essentially focuses on improving existing products and processes. This is especially important in the customer service industry because it allows you to reduce defects and ensure that an optimal level of performance is attained and reinforced in your business. Implementing it enhances efficiency, ensuring that all processes and practices are carried out in accordance with customer expectations.

Here are some insights on how Six Sigma’s DMAIC can help identify customer service issues and improve service experience.

Define the Problems Being Faced By Customers

The first step is to define all the issues that are being faced by your customers. Different techniques and tools can be used to determine the problems. Involve your customer service teams, define and allocate resources needed for identifying issues. Create a timeline of tasks to be undertaken in managing the issue and assign realistic deadlines for the completion of each activity. Also, don’t forget to align your project aims with customer requirements and expectations. Begin by asking yourself about how you plan to address the problem. For example, imagine a scenario in which a customer complains about slow service. In this case, the customer expects immediate service and support since the problem arose due to inefficiency on part of your organization. Hence, the agenda for your project plan should be to come up with a solution that eliminates the possibility of the same problem occurring in the future.

Measure the Issue by Gathering Important Data

After defining the problem and its parameters, you need to gather data that is relevant to the scope of your project. Make a list of all the details associated with the problem and create a systematic roadmap for managing the issue. Identify the processes that led to the issue and recognize the areas which require improvement. All the relevant data needs to be collected which is related to the customer service problem. For instance, the nature and frequency of the issue and how many customers are impacted by it, all this information is vital.

Analyze the Problem in Detail

This step requires you to conduct a root cause analysis of the customer service issue. Ask yourself: what were the circumstances or processes that led to a specific problem? Which department was directly or indirectly responsible for the problem, and how did the consequences cause inconvenience to customers? Did the problem occur as a result of an individual or collective action? Asking questions and analyzing the data extracted from them can reveal areas where change is required, thus enabling you to get the most effective results for your company. Also, while the Six Sigma requires the top management’s leadership in resolving the issue based on the root cause analysis, involving customer service teams in your organization is equally important, given that they frequently interact with clients on the frontline. Your team would be capable of looking at the issue from the customer’s perspective, thus making it easier for you to fix shortcomings.

Improve Experience for Customers

Brainstorm possible solutions that can be used to tackle the issue and identify the one that would work best for your organization. At this point, you should implement an organization-wide test run of the change and ensure that all your teams are onboard with this. Ask your staff for their feedback regarding the change and take note of any deficiencies that may have risen during the implementation process. Staff should provide feedback based on the effectiveness of the solution and whether or not it aligns with customer requirements, satisfaction and your business goals. At this stage, you should be focusing on constantly improving customer experience. Focus and repeat all processes that have proved to lead to higher customer satisfaction.

Control Service Processes

Design variables and metrics that help you to keep track of your efforts in ensuring that customer service problems are eliminated or kept minimal at your company. In this case, you must make sure that issues are statistically insignificant. Develop controls to ensure that excellent service is practiced and reinforced on a company-wide basis. Improve your solutions and current processes to achieve continued success in addressing business inefficiencies. Also, invest in customer service trainings to ascertain that your staff’s performance consistently keeps pace with customer standards and expectations. This leads to a number of benefits such as controlled and measurable improvement within your organization, smoother processes and seamless customer experience.

Mashreq Offers Facility via Mobile

The E-Account will eliminate long waiting time and queues for customers who wish to open an account.

The new E-Account has been launched by Mashreq to offer customers in UAE a convenient online banking experience. This feature enables customers to open an account from the comfort of their homes.

Customers will only need to complete an E-Account application form on the bank’s website and upload the relevant identification documents. This will open the account and customers will be provided with an account number and IBAN number. Physically visiting any of the bank’s branches for opening the account will not be required. Taking into consideration the customer’s convenience, a Mashreq representative will arrange an appointment with him/her accordingly for the purpose of completing the bank’s KYC process. All these steps will enhance overall customer experience.

Aref Al Ramli, Regional Head of Digital Banking at Mashreq reiterated the bank’s commitment to innovation and advanced technology which has contributed to the materialization of the E-Account. Customers can now open a bank account immediately, be it through Mobile or Desktop.

The E-Account provides customers with instant access to Mashreq Online and Snapp Mobile banking application. Owing to this innovative feature, new customers can easily get on board with the bank.

Tooran Asif, Mashreq’s Regional Head of Personal Banking commented that the bank’s objective is to develop immediate solutions inspired by digital technology, and the E-Account is an example of this. He also said that the E-Account feature makes the account opening process a lot easier and more rewarding for customers.

Customer Service Trends for 2020

Increasingly digitalized interactions between brands and customers continue to change customer service expectations and the way that companies engage with customers. Not only will the trend of online shopping continue to grow in the coming years, companies will have to integrate technology in their customer service and sales processes. Similarly, social media will continue to be used by customers and by companies to market their products and offer online customer support. Taking this into account, digital technologies are likely to continue transforming customer needs, demands and behavior in the near future. Thus, companies hoping to maintain a competitive edge must do two things; revolve their business activities around initiatives that genuinely matter to customers, and facilitate customers by boosting investment in digital technologies. Here are some more trends that are likely to be prevalent in 2020.

Customer Engagement Will Increasingly Become High-Tech

Many experts believe that with the rapid progress in technology, the use of mobile devices, apps, social media, video, chat, and personalized solutions will continue to increase. These predictions give a whole new meaning to personalization in the world of customer service, as they indicate that customers demand speed, convenience, accurate information and specifically tailored responses. Keeping this in mind, brands must realize that the customers of 2020 will not only have more advanced requirements, they will also be better informed. Hence, in order to create a personalized experience which they will truly enjoy, your business should conduct extensive research to further understand customer requirements, expectations and emotions. Empower your employees, sales force and customer service teams to involve customers in activities such as product innovation, co-creating services and support solutions. It is also essential to understand that engagement is not merely taking place between customers and companies, customers are increasingly involved in providing each other with information and assistance. For example, customers frequently post content on social networking sites and ask for other customers’ reviews, experiences and evaluations. It is likely that this trend will pick up pace in several digital channels as the industry evolves. Embracing these changes and adapting to them accordingly would enable businesses to engage effectively with customers and enhance the quality of service and support.

Customer Shopping Habits Will Further Evolve

2020 will see a drastic shift in current customer habits and behaviors. With smartphone technology and the range of web applications, solutions, social networking sites which customers could choose from, they would expect companies to increasingly reach out to them via digital channels. A study by PwC titled ‘Retailing 2020: Winning in a Polarized World’ reveals that the rate of technological innovation will increasingly gain momentum and hence, knowing these platforms inside out would allow organizations to succeed in 2020. Also, with the number of brands, products and services to choose from, customers are more likely to take note of minute details and exercise more caution in their buying decisions. This means that they will take more time to evaluate their options and consult before making informed buying decisions. Furthermore, in case there are any queries and complaints to be sorted out, customers will expect quick or immediate frontline resolution in not only brick-and-mortar outlets, but also at every digital touch point. Therefore, speed, convenience, seamless services and support that require minimal effort on their part will be their key demands in 2020.

Customers Will Expect You to Manage Multiple Channels

According to PwC’s report ‘Winning in a Polarized World’ managing a brand in 2020 will require companies to create fresh and innovative tools, skills and modes of communication that are different from the ones we have today. Thus, ensuring that your staff and customer service teams make an orchestrated effort in interacting with customers on the channels they prefer creates a memorable experience and entices them to shop at your brand. Businesses should emphasize on continuously becoming tech-savvy. For instance, develop a mix of digital analytics to improve the customer service experience, prevent customers from having to go through long and complex processes at every contact point etc. Customers will expect businesses to offer multichannel customer experience to them.

Another big question is how to sell to tech-savvy customers in 2020. This can be done by using technology which will enable your business to obtain relevant customer data that can be used for purposes such as making effective product recommendations, offering customized services etc. This can also be used to create a proactive support strategy that reduces long wait time and allows customers to get the details they need at the time and place they prefer.

3 Tips for Delivering a Personalized Customer Experience

The need for creating personalized customer experiences has become all the more important as customers prefer businesses which invest time and effort in providing tailored products and services that cater to their unique demands and expectations. Be it brick-and-mortar outlets or online stores, the need is to differentiate yourself from other companies to win customers. Therefore, giving a personal touch to customer experience at every contact point is one way to help you build a distinctive brand identity in the marketplace. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Harness the Power of Personalized Product Recommendations

The first point of contact which customers have with a brand typically involves them wanting to know more about the products and services that would suit their individual needs. In this case, the best approach is to directly communicate with customers and learn more about them and their expectations. Offer personalized product and service recommendations based on what customers tell you and take note of their choice or products they show an interest in. For example, assume that a salesperson in a fashion store along with helping a customer choose an outfit, suggests an accessory to give him/her the perfect look. This sort of guided selling goes a long way in creating a more personalized experience for the customer.

Revolve your future recommendations based on what you learn about customers and the products they wanted previously. Also, always remember that product recommendations listed on your website need to be relevant and engaging. This can be done by tracking visitors’ behavior on your website. For instance, adding a ‘products you might also like’ section will allow you to suggest products which customers may be potentially looking for. This will not only offer customers a gratifying and personalized experience, it would also give them the impression that you are consistently onboard with their needs throughout the customer journey.

Personalize Your Customer Support

With the modern customer’s need for higher service standards, companies need to understand that apart from the point of purchase, customers demand a seamless and personalized experience at every single touch point. Taking this into account, one essential ingredient of running a successful business is to provide customers with personalized responses to any queries, concerns or requests which they may have. This is all the more important, keeping in mind that customers may interact with your business for reasons other than simply making purchases. In any case, facilitate every customer by creating a personalized customer support strategy that focuses on catering to their individual demands and preferences. For example, implement in-store personalization by empowering your employees to modify their support strategy based on how customers want them to act on their feedback and requests. Also, customers may post questions, concerns and issues on your brand pages on social media. In this case, personalize the online experience by ensuring that your support team proactively responds to each individual message and comment. You could also add live chat on your website to initiate one-on-one interactions with customers and provide them with uninterrupted 24/7 online support. These simple methods will enrich their experience and enhance your brand value.

Offer Tailored Frontline Resolutions

Running a successful business means that you have to be prepared for all sorts of challenges that may arise. In this case, personalizing the customer experience goes beyond merely managing a problem experienced by each customer. The important thing is to follow up with customers to create goodwill with them. For example, imagine a situation where a customer contacts your company to report an issue with a product which he/she purchased. In this case, prioritize frontline resolution to get to the root of the matter effectively and efficiently. Afterwards, send a personalized follow up e-mail to the customer so that you can ensure that everything is to his/her liking. Go the extra mile by doing something meaningful for the customer, like sending a customized thank you card with a free voucher to show your appreciation for bringing the issue to your notice. Thus, creating and delivering a personalized experience is the first step towards cultivating customer loyalty.

Tips for Adopting a ‘Can Do’ Approach to Customer Service

The big question which businesses should ask themselves is: how can they consistently enhance customer service in a landscape where exceeding the modern customer’s high standards and expectations requires them to be the best at what they do? A customer’s perception of your company will be based on whether or not you keep your promises and if you are offering service according to customer needs. Therefore, the significance of adopting a ‘can do’ approach to service cannot be emphasized enough because it will boost your credibility and therefore, play a decisive role in creating and retaining lifelong customers. Here are some tips on how you can adopt a ‘can do’ approach to service and be at par with customer expectations.

Teach Staff What the ‘Can Do’ Approach Is All About

Always remember that adopting the ‘can do’ approach starts from within your organization. You need to make sure that your staff focuses on what they can accomplish for customers and this can be done by educating them about the detrimental consequences of providing unsatisfactory service. Get your teams on the same page by ensuring that they have a proper understanding of the rules for delivering customer service excellence. Communicate the core elements of the ‘can do’ approach to employees. Your first and foremost task is to ensure that they display a positive and proactive attitude in their roles. By ascertaining that this is consistently demonstrated at every touch point, employees will be able to evaluate the different ways in which they could help customers achieve specific goals without fail. For example, giving good advice, identifying pain points and accordingly, offering tailored products and services to solve them etc. Also, employees with the ‘can do’ approach are capable of transforming customer service problems into challenges by coming up with comprehensive solutions and answers in every scenario and situation. This would convince customers that your teams can think outside the box and serve them to the best of their abilities.

Assume Leadership in Resolving Customer Service Problems

Adopting a ‘can do’ approach is not limited to merely raising the bar in your service standards and stepping out of your comfort zone to serve customers. You must be prepared to accept challenges and turn negatives into positives because doing so will build customers’ trust in your business. For example, imagine a situation where a customer approaches you and states that a product which he/she recently purchased turned out to be defective. In this case, do your best to assist the customer and find an agreeable solution. Follow up with the customer later on to inquire about the quality of assistance he/she received and streamline your policies, processes and activities to ensure that your service is always according to their expectations.

Also, sometimes your business might come across situations which require more than one person to manage. The ‘can do’ approach requires you to accept these challenges and involve all your team members to tackle it collectively. This can be done in brainstorming sessions where you could encourage your staff to pitch in ideas and take initiative in dealing with customer service challenges. Ensure that they thoroughly understand what needs to be done and motivate them to tirelessly contribute enterprising solutions. You could also devise a complaint management system to check your employee’s performance and progress in managing customer grievances.

Always have a Backup Plan

Crisis management is an integral part of business and the ‘can do’ approach will not be as effective if you don’t have backup plans for handling situations that can harm your business. It is essential to be prepared for worst-case scenarios as this will show customers that regardless of any circumstances, your company will never compromise on providing quality service. This also means that teams should have the ability to adapt to unforeseen events. For instance, assume that your help desk’s phone line breaks down and your customers expect you to connect with them as soon as possible. Display responsiveness by making use of social media to announce your 24/7 availability on other communication channels to provide customers with uninterrupted support. Never miss out on an opportunity to show customers that they can always count on you to manage and exceed their expectations at every possible time. Always go the extra mile to offer your customers the best possible service.