Common Mistakes In The Service Sector And How You Can Solve Them

Along with the advancement of new technologies, customers are becoming more sophisticated, more informed and self-reliant. This puts an additional strain on the companies involved in the service industry as it requires them to become sharper and more effective. Any mistakes and inefficiencies can eventually affect customer satisfaction. The good news is that mistakes can be corrected. See if you’re making any of these and what you can do about them.

Mistake 1: Cutting Costs by Offshoring

In this day and age, many companies choose to offshore a portion of the work that they perform, such as customer service, as a means of reducing costs. While in certain cases offshoring can be an extremely effective way of acquiring talent that would otherwise not be available, doing it solely for the purpose of cutting costs can actually hurt your business.

Offshoring often creates disconnection both within the team and in the business-customer relationship. When customers reach out to the companies, they expect a certain kind of service and may be disappointed if what they receive if not what they were looking for.

Solution: Optimizing Existing Employee Productivity

Since the main argument for offshoring is cutting costs, the same can be achieved by training employees how to optimize their productivity and “eliminate the waste” in their work process. Some of the ways in which it can be done are the following:

  • Teaching how to manage time more efficiently
  • Instructing how to set goals and plan in advance
  • Teaching how to prioritize tasks
  • Discovering additional skills and talents that employees have and offering ways to use them in the workplace
  • Providing clean and comfortable working environment that motivates the employees

Mistake 2: Following Outdated Business Processes

When performing different business processes either with your team or by yourself, you follow a set of steps that makes a task easier and more efficient. Frequently, those used by the company are considered to be set in stone and are rarely if ever changed. Given that everything around us constantly changes and evolves, business processes may become outdated. This may not only decrease the quality of service and make your customers trust you less, but can also demotivate the employees.

Here are some signs that indicate that you may need to update your existing business processes:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Increase in negative feedback or reviews from customers
  • Demotivated colleagues and/or employees
  • Missed deadlines
  • Increased expenses

Solution: Regularly Redesigning business Processes

In order to avoid or solve this mistake, business processes need to be continuously revised and updated. And that should be done with the help and input of the employees, because they are the ones who know what and why does not work as intended.

In order to streamline business processes, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Create a schematic of your current process.
  2. Identify the existing weak links. In order to do so you can pay attention to your customers’ feedback. What frustrated or dissatisfies them? What do they complain about? Don’t forget to also pay attention to your colleagues, subordinates, and employees. What frustrates and deflates them? What take them too much time to complete and causes them to miss their deadlines? What requires additional funding?
  3. Redesign your existing processes to eliminate the weak links. Make sure you find a way of involving your team in the process as they may have unique ideas of how these problems can be approached.
  4. Take the actions necessary to implement the changes. Take into consideration the potential expenses that may be required, e.g., additional software or other resources.
  5. Monitor the changes implemented and whether they have brought the desired result.

Keep in mind that changes won’t always equal to immediately improved results. Sometimes, you may be required to adjust the process multiple times. That is not only normal, but natural.

Mistake 3: Lack of People Skills

Some of the greatest mistakes that are made in the service sector are often caused by lack of people skills such as the ability to listen and deal with conflicts and criticism. Because of this, those directly working with customers may not listen to them properly, argue with them, and leave customers feeling like they are being treated like numbers rather than people.

Most standard workplace trainings cover the technicalities of the job, familiarize workers with company policies and standards. However, very rarely they cover essential skills.

Solution: Training Staff for Intrapersonal Skills

Some of the most required interpersonal skills in the service sector are:

  1. Active listening: paying attention to what someone else is saying and responding accordingly
  2. Empathy: understanding how someone feels and being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”
  3. Criticism: how to offer constructive criticism without offending and how to receive constructive criticism without taking offense
  4. Disagreeing: how to respectfully disagree during an argument
  5. Communication: the ability to correctly convey ideas verbally and non-verbally
  6. Negotiation: coming to an agreement with someone who has a conflicting opinion
  7. Problem-solving: effectively solving personal and team problems
  8. Teamwork: ability to effectively complete tasks as a part of a team

These are not only effective in improving employee-customer relationships, but also those between employees, both of which are important for any business involved in the service industry.
There are multiple ways in which interpersonal skills can be improved, such as taking an online class, attending an interpersonal skills class, or hiring a consultant.

Are you making any of these mistakes? What are your approaches to solving them? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion with us.

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Lean Predictions For 2017 And Beyond

We polish our crystal ball and give you our insights into the future.

Prediction 1: It’s How You Implement It That Counts!

At least two Lean implementation forks in the road exist right now. One has some companies looking for the next big thing after a foray into Lean.

On the second path, companies in diverse industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, IT and aviation have achieved the planned outcomes that a sustained, successful Lean implementation brings. They are able to point to the specific rewards and improvements in parts, or across the whole, of their business.

For the first path, a lesson to emerge is that the journey can be a challenge and that even those with years of experience in performance improvement using Lean methodologies may have further to go to achieve the outcomes they are looking for, or, they may have to restructure their process. The challenge that a Lean implementation presents is for the many pathways to be explored and carefully implemented.

So….. we predict that companies will learn from these lessons and aim for a Lean implementation that is carefully planned. In this way companies avoid the frustration of having to look for the next new management tool as a result of an unhappy experience.

Prediction 2: It’s All About Your People!

• The Lean journey for some companies may be a case of history repeating itself. Project management evolved in the second half of the 20th century from an emphasis on “process” to an understanding that process is only part of the solution and the importance of fully engaged and empowered and enabled employees cannot be overlooked.

The Lean journey may have some parallels.

Lean emerged from the Toyota experience with an important message to emerge being“We do not just build cars, we build people”.

So we predict that companies implementing a Lean transformation will increasingly find ways to really engage employees and to develop employees’ Lean implementation capability and to meaningfully support them through the implementation.

As an element of this focus, we expect to see greater emphasis on the creation of cultural change as an essential component of a successful Lean implementation. In other words we predict that companies will incorporate an understanding of the importance for the business of really addressing “The way we do things here” as part of the Lean implementation.

Prediction 3: Let’s Not Forget Effective Management

If companies are to engage employees with the responsibility for continuous improvement via a Lean transformation, then they must ensure that managers can step-up to provide management processes and behaviors that not only lead the process change, but also generate employee engagement and commitment.

This requires managers understanding and explaining the need for, and the purpose of, the transformation. We see this as an essential beginning of the process.

Then managers need the capabilities to bring employees with them as the process unfolds. A well developed understanding of the Lean processes and principles is an essential start.

We predict further involvement by managers in implementing more generic management trends (that relate to a Lean transformation) to build on the capability-development trend. We can add improved understanding of culture change and development in companies, as well as greater knowledge of learning organizations and performance management in projects and teams.

Prediction 4: 2017 Will Be a Big Year

We guess that you have been paying attention recently and like us, expect the unexpected during 2017, as the changes in the USA political landscape ripple through to business.

We predict that the inevitable changes will create new opportunities and that winners will, to some extent, be those companies agile enough to look at process changes, technology advances and customer buying/interaction patterns that impact on the customer experience and the way they do business.

Emerging technology trends and changes in federal regulation in the USA (and elsewhere as the world catches up) will encourage companies to seek process and business change solutions as a matter of urgency.

Lean will play its part and may begin a new age of adaptive change.

More rapid evolution of the Lean process is, in our opinion, inevitable’s businesses look for short and longer term solutions to the opportunities and challenges emerging during 2017.

Prediction 5: Lean Will Increasingly Address a Range of Workplace Challenges

We expect Lean systems to be asked to do more to address the pace of change. We are not talking replacing evolution with revolution but rather looking for adaptive responses to emerging issues across industries.

This may mean that process and solution sharing responses will become more important, especially where there is common ground across industries. What works in IT for example may be adapted for use in health. Creative minds and adaptable systems will converge around this challenge and opportunity.

As a starting point, this convergence could include areas such as employee engagement, manager capability and processes and systems for managing the processes. IT will also play an important part in supporting and speeding the process.

One challenging prediction is that, while Lean is primarily focused as a solution for information flow problems,it may also emerge as a system for improving human health in organizations.

We look forward to Lean transformations emerging as systems capable of evolving from its constraints and improving human health in companies.

For example, eliminating information flow problems greatly reduces the myriad of workplace stressors facing managers and employees, not to forget customers and suppliers.

And isn’t this what we use Lean for? The creation of a productive, efficient and effective workplace finely tuned to the needs and opportunities of the marketplace and staffed by engaged and healthy employees.