6 Efficiency Boosters for Operations Managers
Efficiency. It’s the golden word for all service operations managers. How can we reduce friction? How can we ensure that support teams have the tools they need to provide customers with delightful experiences? How can we do things faster, better, cheaper? The following 6 efficiency boosters are a great place to start.
1. Use Service Standards to Streamline Focus
True efficiency is achieved when everyone is working towards the same goal. You can use service standards to keep your team focused and get every employee on the same page.
Service standards, otherwise known as a service promise, are a set of tangible guidelines that represent your brand promise to your customers. It’s a list of anywhere between 5 and 10 micro goals that when consistently achieved create the macro goal of a streamlined, delightful customer experience.
You can think of service standards like a map for your frontline teams. Each employee can look at the map and know exactly what they need to do in order to reach their final destination. Without clear, consistent service standards, it’s as if everyone in an organization is using a different map – and no one is going to end up in the same place.
2. Build a Customer Experience Overview Into Your Day to Day
To build efficiency, you need a daily, holistic view of the customer experience built into your every day. You shouldn’t have to go digging for old customer survey results and frontline performance reviews. Operations managers need somewhere they can go to get a real-time glimpse of 1) Who needs help (at a branch, team and individual level) 2) Who needs recognition (ditto) and 3) Which customers require direct action. If you are constantly playing catchup on those things you can't be as effective.
Of course this real-time customer experience overview can only be achieved with the right technology in place, but we’ll get to that in a second.
3. Use Customer Feedback to Spot Trends and Find Focus
Getting distracted by one-off issues is a sure fire efficiency killer, but so is using a broad stroke approach to every problem. If you have the ability to track and evaluate trends in real time, you can avoid both those traps.
A birds-eye-view of feedback by region, location, branch and individual, allows you to clearly see where the shortfalls are, where your strengths are, and where you should direct your energy for the greatest impact.
Working this way can have a massive effect on some of your most painful problems. Reduce rework, decrease customer churn and generally prevent the preventable with coaching that address the overarching issues behind these problems.
AskNicely customer, Aptive Environmental, nailed this one. By connecting their team to real-time feedback, they were able to decrease rework and increase their NPS score from 31.1 points to 61.
“Using AskNicely has transformed how we work with our field service team. We have already seen a dramatic rise in our lowest performers toward our best performers leading to a 28 point NPS increase. The rework cost we are saving alone pays for the tool and we have a lot more we can do now that we have AskNicely.” — Dane Dellenbach, Sr Director of Strategy and Innovation.
4. Ask Your Employees
Often the people responsible for delivering a service are the ones who would know how to make the process more efficient. When looking to boost efficiency, don’t just guess from the boardroom. Sit down with your frontline teams and ask them what they need in order to do their jobs more efficiently. Perhaps it’s new technology, some further training, a new system or process. You won’t know until you ask.
For Stay Upright, Australia’s leading motorcycle riding school, it wasn’t until an instructor on the frontline said to a manager one day “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get some initial feedback from our students, as soon as they leave the room” that a new efficiency-improving technology came into the picture.
5. Choose the Right Technology
You can’t achieve real efficiency without the right technology and automations in place. Far too commonly, customer-facing teams are bogged down with administrative tasks that could be easily automated.
Take a look at your service business as a whole, and ask yourself what could be automated or scaled effectively with the helping hand of technology.
Here are just a few considerations:
- Service desk automation
- Automatic customer feedback surveys — NPS, CSAT, CES — to collect the information you need to improve the customer experience.
- Chatbots and AI to handle basic, commonly asked customer queries
- Employee feedback tools that allow teams to provide suggestions to their higher-ups.
- CRM systems to keep track of customer profiles and deliver more personalized, on point experiences.
6. Create a Culture of Self-Improvement
True efficiency is achieved when every individual employee feels empowered. Service businesses made up of frontline workers who feel under-served, under-appreciated and under-paid is an inefficient business (and a sad one too).
To create an efficient and happy team:
- Make sure you take the time to recognize success when it happens.
- Share customer feedback: both negative to encourage improvements and positive to reinforce awesome work.
- Listen to your employees – what do they need to be the best versions of themselves?
- Give them autonomy and responsibility over the customer experience – let them follow up with customer feedback and learn using a hands-on approach.
Ultimately, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, whether that be an individual team member, team or branch – so collective empowerment of your whole organization is critical for maximum efficiency.
Learn exactly how Houwzer, a modern, socially responsible real estate and mortgage brokerage built their culture of self-improvement here.
On the surface, efficiency can seem like it’s about the numbers. But really, it’s all about the people. To boost efficiency, use clear service standards, build a clear customer experience overview into every day, connect teams to feedback, talk to your employees, choose the right technology and most importantly cultivate an environment where everyone feels empowered to do their part.