Customers are the single most important aspect of any business, and when it comes to your QMS (quality management system), customers are the life blood that keeps everything going. Essentially, no quality system can survive without some sort of process for keeping customers happy. Whether your business deals with customers directly or not, the people who use your products and services are invaluable to your growth. In some instances, employees, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders take on the role of the customer. But regardless of what form the customer takes in your company, one thing will never change – customers are the life blood of your business, and as such, they should be the heart of any QMS.
Making Customer Care the Heart of Your Quality Management System
How do you go about putting your customers at the forefront of your quality management goals? Here are a few things to consider to help you go that extra mile…
1. Get involved at all levels of management
Sadly, too many companies believe that dealing with customers is a job for lower level employees, with top level management execs choosing instead to stay in their offices rather than ever venturing down to the floor. This is common in many different industries – stores, airline desks, marketing agencies… even banks. While senior management may decide to give an appearance if they deem the customer to be high value enough, few bother to get involved at floor level for ‘everyday’ customers. The problem with this practice is that it causes an instant disconnect that could affect your customer care efforts. Without having a real, valid understanding of the customer experience and journey, how will you ever be able to relate to customers and listen to their needs? And how will you be able to connect to your frontline staff, either?
2. Test surveys before putting them into play
Surveys are a great tool… if they are designed properly and tested, that is. Without making the effort to test them before putting them into play, you may well be wasting every penny spent on the creation, design and distribution. Surveys that contain errors, are out of date, have irrelevant or poorly worded questions and do not give you the chance to get valuable feedback from customers and are simply wasting customers’ time (and your resources).
3. Embrace exit interviews
Just like you take the time to give exit interviews when employees leave the company; it can be extremely valuable to give them when customers leave. While you may feel angry and upset at their leaving, finding out why could prevent the same thing from happening with other customers. It may be that they are simply looking for something different to what you are offering. It may be that they no longer need your products or services. But it could be something within your organisation that is broken, and needs fixing. Until you ask, you will never find out (and therefore, never have the chance to fix things). It is also important to have honest assessments when it comes to customer satisfaction. A good customer complaints management tool can help to automate and streamline customer feedback, but that feedback needs to be honest for it to be useful. It is very rare for any company to only get positive feedback. While it is possible for a company to do no wrong, consistently glowing reviews that appear to lack depth may be a sign that your feedback system needs to be reviewed. Ask the tougher questions, and welcome the good, the bad and even the ugly. After all, even the worst feedback can help you grow your business. And that ability to learn and grow is what makes customer care such an integral part of any QMS.