The word "quality" often comes with many negative connotations. "It's too complicated." "It's too cumbersome." "It's boring." "All the quality team does is tell me I'm doing my job wrong." Are any of these actually true statements? The short answer is no. My name is Marcus Wheeler, I am the President of Integrated Quality Solutions, and Intellect has graciously extended me the opportunity to be its guest blogger. Integrated Quality Solutions, IQS for short, is one of Intellect's newest consulting partners. We help organizations optimize the effectiveness of their quality program through a sustainable, common sense approach, to quality. Quality management can be complicated. It can be cumbersome, boring, and focused on the cost of poor quality, but none of these statements should be true for any effective quality program. Today, I am going to talk about three effective strategies to enhance your customer experience, through our common-sense approach.
1. Data-driven Decision Making
Organizations everywhere collect all sorts of data. Demographics, productivity, customer satisfaction, turnover, and quality performance, to name a few. What do they do with all of this data? Oddly enough, too many organizations do just that, collect it. That's it. The data, which is extremely powerful, essentially just sits there. Not that they don't value the importance or power of the data they are collecting, but they don't know what to do with it after they collect it. Sure, there are charts and PowerPoint presentations made, sometimes meetings to discuss, but too often this valuable information is just a talking point. How do I know this? I've collected this data, I've made those PowerPoints, and I've sat in those meetings with many different organizations. Back then, I never thought the data was not being used effectively or that we were just collecting the data because we thought it was the right thing to do. Now, through the excellent quality training, I've had the privilege of experience by some of the top quality leaders and organizations in the world, and my professional experience, I understand that we never effectively used, or understood, what to do with all of this valuable information. In 2018, NewVantage Partners reported that 98.6 percent of executives indicated they attempt to create data-driven decision-making cultures, but only 32.4 percent of them being successful in doing so.
So, what is data-driven decision-making? Simply put, it is the process of using data to influence your decision-making. Rather than just going by observation or intuition, using factual data to understand what is actually happening versus the expected outcome. There are 6 key steps to making data-driven decisions and implementing data-driven decision-making into your organization's culture.
Educate – The next 5 steps do not matter if you don't ensure your organization is educated on the process, importance, and benefits.
Define – It is vitally important to define and understand the purpose is behind collecting the data. Does is it align with your goal, initiatives, and/or the issue you are trying to solve? If the answer is no, you may want to rethink the data you are collecting.
Source – Where is the data coming from? Do you already have the data or resources to collect it? Will you have to build or purchase a new way to do so? These are critical questions that must be answered before you continue the process.
Collect – Gather and prepare the identified data points through the necessary sources. Ensure you are collecting the data from high input sources, so you are getting as much relevant information as possible. Utilize multiple different sources, when possible.
Analyze – What does your data actually mean? What story does it tell? This is when you would create visualizations like charts and graphs. You can utilize data analytics software to help put it in a user-friendly, presentable, and understandable format.
Decide – Now you have all you need to make that decision. You've decided what you need and how you will collect it, you've collected and analyzed the data, and now you are empowered to make a decision based on factual data that tells a story about what outcome is being produced.
Quality is very much about putting systems in place the create consistent outputs based on the intended inputs. The data will tell you if this is happening. If the desired output is not what is actually happening, the data can tell you where the issue is and where to make the appropriate adjustments.
2. Risk Mitigation
Quality is about anticipating the consequences of errors, carelessness, and inefficiency, and putting processes in place to ensure they do not occur. Errors cost time and money, which significantly impacts your bottom line and brand. In some situations, the consequences of error can be catastrophic, resulting in loss of life, environmental damage, and extensive financial liability. Risk mitigation is an absolute key aspect of quality management, as a whole. Consistently identifying risks, and the opportunities associated, will only enhance your business processes leading to enhanced customer experience. This is not just about "what could go wrong," but also what is going wrong and the root cause behind it.
Ironically, I use the acronym BE-RISK when working through risk mitigation planning.
Be Proactive – The best way to mitigate risks is by being proactive. Have a consistent cadence to review your risks And how you can turn them into opportunities.
Respond/React – How do you respond when you discover a defect or failure? Is your reaction to immediately focus on the specific issue or failure or do you look at the big picture and figure out the true cause is through your CAPA or root cause analysis process. Reacting too quickly or abruptly, without understanding where the actual issue arises, can actually create more problems than solutions.
Identify – What are your risks? What is the likelihood of them occurring? What is the impact if they do occur? Have they previously been identified as risk and how were they mitigated? These are all vital questions that need to be answered during your risk mitigation process.
Standardize – The easiest way to mitigate risk is through standardization. Standardizing your processes helps ensure you have consistent inputs to create the desired outputs consistently. In addition, when you standardize the way you do things, you mitigate uncontrollable variables when that same process is completed with a variety of different steps.
Knowledge – I know most of us have heard "Knowledge is power." It's because it is true. There is nothing more powerful than knowledge. Knowing what has happened in the past can only help you prevent those same issues in the future. Defects, failures, corrective actions, complaints, issues, etc. use these lessons learned as knowledge for the future.
Last, to note, it's risk mitigation, not elimination. You will never be able to eliminate all risks, do not get caught up in the uncontrollable variables and extremely unlikely risks.
3. Digital Transformation
Technology has become a part of our everyday lives, both in the workplace and at home. I'm sure most of you have heard the major industry term "digital transformation," but what does that mean? We already use technology in the workplace, right? Does this mean everything we do is going to involve technology? What's most important is that digital transformation is about the customer and how do we provide a better, optimal experience for every customer. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, is quoted saying, "Every digital transformation is going to begin and end with the customer, and I can see that in the minds of every CEO I talk to." Investing in new technology to optimize processes and decrease risks will not only improve efficiency and remove waste but will directly benefit your customer experience. SAP defines digital transformation best (in my opinion), "Digital transformation is as much a cultural and business transformation as it is a technological one. It is a fundamental rethinking of customer experience, business models, and operations. It's about finding new ways to deliver value, generate revenue, and improve efficiency." Customers will never object to you delivering more value, improving efficiency, or optimizing their experience. Of course, happier customers will typically generate more revenue.
There is no blueprint to digital transformation, no right or wrong way to do it. As long as you ask yourself "How will this benefit our customers and improve their experience?" when transforming the way you do business, you are on the right track.
All 3 of these strategies result in one thing when implemented effectively, an enhanced customer experience. Everything you do should be with the customer in mind. Quality is not complicated, but industry makes it complicated with extensive standards and complex terminology. When you break it down, it's truly common sense, best practice on the customer experience. Integrated Quality Solutions partnered with Intellect because we know, not only do they have the best eQMS, but they also put their customers first and truly care about their experience. What are you doing to put your customers first?