It costs a lot to acquire a new customer, but lean-six sigma applied to customer service excellence can increase customer loyalty and retention, adding additional value to each new customer acquired.

The challenge customer service managers face is to balance the operational needs of the organization with the practical needs of the customer. Effective customer service management needs to reduce overall costs while increasing over all customer experience and value to the customer. One strategy is using the use of lean six sigma as a model for customer service management decisions.

The lean customer service organization

A lean approach to customer service is a system to evaluating each process involved in customer care and identifying waste or inefficiencies that add costs to the organization. Waste could come in the form of slow or inefficient systems, unorganized resources, or lack of training or missing skills among customer service team members.

The six sigma approach to perfect customer service

Six sigma is the methodology that outlines levels or benchmarks for performance, or output in order to reduce problems and mistakes in the product created or service performed. Each sigma or level of benchmark is identified by fewer and fewer errors in output, thus increased operational efficiency. The final, sixth sigma sets the goal of only 3.4 errors per million customer service opportunities.

4 Customer service core components need perfect execution

So if we’re to apply the lean six sigma model to achieve perfect customer service, we need to eliminate waste and achieve near perfection in our execution of four major customer service core components needed for an exceptional customer experience.

1. Perfect customer service tasks

Customer service tasks are the day-to-day actions and processes that customer care representatives perform for customers each day. These tasks are repetitive in nature, but by eliminating errors and improving speed and efficiency will set the standard for the rest of the experience actions that will take place.

2. Perfect customer service treatment

As each individual task a customer requires is executed, customer treatment defines the overall perception of the customer in regards to the service performed. What feelings, thoughts, desires, and emotions are felt by the customer while the task takes place. Reducing negative treatment while encouraging the creation of positive emotions ensure that the recipe for customer loyalty is mixed with each customer interaction,

3. Perfect customer service metrics

If we’re getting customer action and customer emotion right, is that adding up to our desired outcome? Do we see the correlation in increased customer retention? Does it increase overall customer conversion? Do we set a standard that is an advantage that can be used for future customer acquisitions? Getting perfect service metrics means measuring the effect of our planning and executed action.

4. Perfect customer service training

If our metrics show the desired results from our customer service strategy, we need to ensure that the cycle is perpetuated. The cycle of implementing customer service strategy requires perfect service training to take place. Perfect training ensures that existing team members refine their ability to execute the overall service strategy and that new customer service team members quickly gain the necessary vision and develop the abilities to be effective in their actions, emotions, and understand the metrics or deliverables that determine success.

Six sigma customer service optimization

The key is to use the principles of six sigma when evaluating and optimizing your customer service delivery. The opportunities are there, unnoticed waste, inefficiencies, and poor practices are killing the overall customer experience. Maybe you’re getting it right most of the time, but what about those times you’re not? How much value are you passing up, how much revenue are you letting walk away simply because you think what you’re doing today is good enough. Until you’re consistently delivering the perfect customer service experience, the principles of six sigma will be a blueprint to guide you along the path of perfection.