As business professionals, leading a successful company is always top of mind. We strive to continually improve our business processes to gain a competitive advantage.
Are you looking for a new strategy that will distinguish you from your competitors? In this article, we share the story of how a small cap B2B manufacturer and service provider in the walk-in cooler industry did just that.
Identifying the Goals
We recently teamed up with a company looking to distinguish themselves through extraordinary service levels in an otherwise commoditized industry. The owners felt that in order to create a competitive advantage they had to improve the service level performance of the sales quote and ordering process. The service levels, including those of competitors, have been challenging for many years.
Together we used the NPS methodology to achieve nearly a 3x improvement in service levels in the span of about 3 months! Their Net Promoter Score increased from a 29 to 81! Let’s take a closer look.
Executing the Project
We executed this transformation by successfully reaching four major milestones; each are listed and discussed in more detail.
- Collect voice of customer feedback and baseline the service level performance
- Run Lean Kaizen event to map current state and design future state process
- Pilot the new process
- Monitor results and adjust the new process
Collect Voice of Customer (VOC) & Baseline Service Level Performance
Owners of the company decided to use the Net Promoter Score methodology because it is a highly effective method for quickly gathering customer feedback for immediate improvement actions. Understanding VOC doesn’t have to be a daunting, long drawn out process, which includes multiple questions. The key is smart sampling to get a representative and statistically significant sample of customer feedback.
We kept it simple by using just four strategic questions and a relatively inexpensive survey tool. From the sample, it became apparent that turnaround time of quotes was a key theme in dissatisfaction. To further support this voice, we then collected operational data to determine the service level performance, showing that half of the time, the expectation of a 24-hour turnaround was missed.
Link to the Business Case
Based on voice of customer and operational data we collected, there was a clear correlation to a business case. The walk-in cooler sector is a highly competitive industry with low switching costs for the consumer, therefore the market is dictated by the customers and they want quick turnaround time on quotes and low pricing. The provider with the fastest turnaround, often wins the most deals!
Run Lean Kaizen Event to Map Current State & Design Future State Process
As part of the Kaizen preparation, we observed the process and learned that a lot of inefficiencies existed from not following standard work practices. Knowing we had to solve for the speed of turnaround time and process inefficiency, we decided to hold a week long Lean Kaizen event.
On day 1 of the event, the group mapped the current state process and identified over forty pain points that were the root cause of the bottlenecks in the process. The remainder of the week was spent on designing a new process and action plan that removed many of the pain points and waste.
Pilot the New Process
During the Kaizen event, we developed a communications plan informing the customers and internal key stakeholder departments. With a newly designed process, new team structure and performance metrics, we decided to pilot the new process and monitor results by collecting feedback from the customers through a new NPS survey. Leaders of the company felt it was important to pilot the new process, as change can often lead to unforeseen consequences and new sources of dissatisfaction.
Monitor Results and Adjust the New Process
Through the daily performance metric we knew the team was consistently meeting the expectation of the customers regarding quote turnaround time. However when the first NPS results came in, we noticed new voices of dissatisfaction, something that wasn’t apparent in the sample we originally collected.
The new process basically removed the 1:1 relationship between the end customer and the company representative, something that was discussed during design, but the extent of displeasure was unknown and certainly unforeseen. Within a matter of weeks, the NPS score dropped to minus 47 due to the lack of personal relationship and we had to adjust the process.
With input from the front line personnel, a regional team concept was put in place while also bringing back the 1:1 relational aspect. The customers were informed that we heard their voices and asked for their patience while we were making adjustments.
During the adjustment process, we paused the NPS survey so as not to over survey customers. Once live, we re-launched the NPS survey again and received glowing remarks. All quotes were sent out within the expected timeframe and the ultimate NPS score was a whopping 81! Most importantly, these great results have been maintained since then.
The story of this small manufacturer and service company shows the power of combining NPS with Lean process improvement. With NPS, they received instant and daily feedback to make sure they were addressing the needs of the customers.
Real-time feedback of the new process was critical to the success of improvement efforts, and the first NPS score of 0 had the team on high alert. The situation was closely monitored and within a matter of weeks, we had a new strategy and an adjusted process launched with great results! Sometimes a step backward happens before two steps forward are made. By sticking with the improvement methodology, and using timely NPS feedback, this company is now far ahead of the competition with service level performance and personalized attention.Learn More About Why The Net Promoter Score Methodology Works