The ultimate goal of lean is to minimize waste while maximizing customer value. With this in mind, customer service is a key element of lean management. When a business implements lean principles into the customer service department, it can become more efficient and more customer focused, giving it a competitive edge. All seven of the lean principles can be applied to customer service, but in this article, we’re going to look at the most important aspects: eliminating waste and respect for people.
Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
Good customer service involves keeping your customers at the forefront of your mind. In order to establish your company as one that people can trust, it’s important to be proactive instead of reactive if you notice any problems. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of online retail companies started to notice delays with their deliveries. Those following the lean principles of customer service reached out to their customers to let them know the situation. This had many benefits: it let the customers know that the company cared about them, it prevented the need for numerous customer service calls (eliminating waste), and it led to positive outcomes.
Decrease Feedback Loops
If your customer service department is receiving a lot of negative feedback about a specific product or service, it’s important to pass that information to the right area quickly. Companies that have workflows set up to enable this to happen not only eliminate the time required to find a solution, but keep customers happier too. A lean consulting firm like Supply Velocity can help you to implement the steps required if you’re struggling with this.
Apply Value Stream Mapping
Value stream mapping is a lean technique that encourages companies to visualize the steps a customer needs to make to reach a certain point. In customer service, this could, as one example, refer to the steps they take in order to be able to speak to a human via the phone. Most companies now make use of automated systems to direct customers to the correct department, and those that do this well have the ability to reduce the amount of time it takes for a customer to speak to somebody. This benefits the company as it stops employees from having to redirect calls, and it benefits the customer as they get to speak to somebody quickly.
Be Helpful and Sincere
Finally, in order to effectively implement a lean strategy to customer service, it’s important to educate employees on the importance of being helpful and sincere. Not only will this portray your company in a good light, but it could be the thing that sets your company apart from your competitors. Many people don’t mind paying a higher price for a product or a service if they know they will receive helpful and sincere customer service should they have a problem with it, so this is definitely something to keep in mind.
Applying lean principles to customer service doesn’t have to be difficult.