“Talk” About Products and Services Improvements

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Continuing to improve what you deliver (services are products, too) and how well you deliver it meddles in your processes, systems, tools, and training…clearly areas “outside” of the marketing department. Or are they?

Product quality, which products you deliver, and the finesse with which you deliver them are pretty fundamental in your ability to survive and thrive, long term. Isn’t that why you are in business?

Product development is essential to evolving with your customers. And to besting your competitors by setting yourself apart. You either want to do altogether different things than your competitors, or do the same things, but do them differently…better.

So the Operating Plan and Marketing Plan should work in tandem and be integrated — not in isolation of one another — to support the Strategic Plan.

Customer Service

Nothing is as welcoming as being treated with dignity and the utmost respect by a friendly and attentive customer service representative. An employee who exemplifies good customer service skills will prove beneficial to a company through interaction with clientele. Customer service serves the purpose of enhancing customer satisfaction by providing the consumer with a feeling that the product or service rendered has met or exceeded the customer’s expectations. Customer service can be provided by a person or automated by means of self-service, such as on Internet sites. A challenge to this is ensuring that customer service representatives have focused attention on the right areas.

Ask yourself: What are my customers’ support needs?

One of the most important things to consider when it comes to online customer service is finding what your customers typically need from your support team.

Get out of your customers’ way. Offer Self-service can be an enormous benefit to your customers — not the hindrance you may perceive it to be.

Do you know how long your customers wait for an initial reply? Or how long the average time to resolution is? What about how many times a customer has to go back and forth with your team before they get their questions answered to their satisfaction?

The longer you make customers wait to hear from you, the more time you give them to start exploring your competitors’ offerings. We don’t have to tell you that what gets measured gets managed — unless you’re already keeping an eagle eye on your customer service metrics, chances are there are some opportunities for optimization.

Personalize email responses to customers — this will reassure people that someone is directly answering their questions.

Here are some tips for improving the quality of products and services

Create a long-term plan for quality improvement, break it into small steps, and then make changes to achieve the goals of each step.

Give supreme priority of quality in every plans and procedure. Remember, adjusting quality with time, cost or labor can provide temporary benefits but permanently destroy the future.

Talk often with your clients. Investigate why they like you, why they are tempted to go to your competitors or what else they expect from you.

Talk politely with your employees, especially salespersons, what do they and their clients expect from the company and why a company fails to deliver so.

Frequently compare your product with your competitors and find out where you are winning and where you are losing.

Always look for possibilities to improve your product and service. Carefully analyze every technical/social development and think how that can help you in your business.

Track mistakes

If you are going to commit to quality, first you must define exactly what quality is. For manufacturers, this process involves statistical quality control, the process of setting a product’s specifications and then sampling a small number of units from the production line to see how closely they measure up to those specs. Standards are set and, if too much deviation occurs (or if quality appears to be trending in the wrong direction), the manufacturing process is altered.

Have the right attitude

Too many people turn the quest to improve quality into something oppressive. No less an authority than Deming rejected the idea that the quality management had to be dreary and involve a lot of negativity.

“The prevailing system of management has crushed fun out of the workplace,” Deming moaned in an interview in the 1990s.

This attitude is not necessarily easy to adopt and runs afoul of some of the basic management practices we take for granted. For example, Deming was not a fan of performance reviews, as the writer John Case has explained.

“If your evaluations are fair, you will determine that half your workers (by definition) are below average, and you will tell them so,” Case writes. “Result: half the work force is instantly discouraged and demoralized, and any sense of common purpose is undermined.”

Rather than pointing out inadequacy wherever it might be found, Deming believes that the job of managers was to frame the pursuit of quality as an interesting, noble, and worthwhile goal. If you are to truly improve quality at your business, whether you manufacture products, distribute goods, or perform a service for your clients, your first step (and also the hardest) is to resist the temptation to dwell on your company’s flaws and instead rally your team around the cause of rooting them out.

Roger Keyserling


“Talk” About Products and Services Improvements was originally published in eCom Tips on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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