Small Improvements in Customer Service Create Big Wins

Shep Hyken
Contributing Writer
Shepard Presentation

Little successes added together make for large success down the road. Small successes add up. To put it in baseball terms, you don’t need to hit a home run every time it’s your turn at bat. So, here’s the question to consider: What small change will enhance the experience for the customer, even if it is just by 1%?

My friend and client, Jason Bradshaw of Volkswagen in Australia, was tasked with improving the customer experience for the VW dealerships. Within two years he had made big strides. It didn’t happen with big sweeping changes. It happened with little ones. Even “tiny” ones that he referred to as 1% differences.

Back to my original question – what small changes can you make? The way to make small changes isn’t complicated. Here are four steps to help you get there.

  1. Identify: If you haven’t already done a journey map of what your customers experience as they do business with you, it’s time to do it. The good news is that if you haven’t done it yet, you don’t need to get to the level of detail you normally would for this exercise. What you need is a bullet point list of all the places customers interact with you. This, by the way, can include people, processes, and even products. Make a list of these touchpoints. For example, it can be something as simple as the way a phone is answered.
  2. Brainstorm: Once you’ve identified the touchpoints, discuss and brainstorm ideas to improve each one. Back to the way a phone is answered. You might consider asking some questions. What happens when a customer calls? Is the call answered by a human or by a recording that prompts the caller to press numbers on a keypad to get to who they want to talk to? I’m not suggesting one is better than the other. What I am suggesting is that you sit down and decide if this is the experience you want your customer to have. And keep in mind that even the smallest improvements – even 1% better – should be included on this list.
  3. Execute: If you take the time to do this right, you’ll have identified a number of interactions. You’ll be surprised at how many there are. You should have listed them and have a number of opportunities for improvement. Now prioritize. What are the quickest wins you can get, small or big? Start there.
  4. Repeat: On the side of the shampoo bottle the instructions say to lather, rinse and repeat. This is the type of exercise that is not a “one and done.” Consider repeating it annually. Things change. Software improves. What’s important to a customer today may not be tomorrow. The change you made last year may be ready for another change today.

These steps may seem like common sense. They are, but don’t let that diminish the importance. Sometimes business doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these simple steps and start to improve your customer service, even if it’s just by 1%!

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