Statistical Process Control Encourages the Whole Organization to Contribute to Customer Service Goals
Published July 2018, GPOptimizer Summer 2018
By Frances Donnelly, C.Q.P.A., Director Product Development and Sales, Horizons International
Whether your business is service, distribution or manufacturing based, achieving and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction is always a goal. Too often though, we monitor and measure customer satisfaction only around data from our sales and customer service departments.
Is measuring customer satisfaction based solely on sales and customer service data the best approach for delivering improvements?
We don’t think so.
It is actually highly likely that organizations with this philosophy are inadvertently creating a negative culture of finger pointing and blame. After all how fair is it if the sales person has to take the hit on commission for the return of defective product when they have no control over the defect?
Companies who focus their evaluation of customer satisfaction just on these two areas are not taking advantage of key values employees identify for inspiring loyalty. Employees want to feel their efforts are contributing to the success of the company. Research shows employees are most likely to experience this when there is a high correlation between how they are enabled to do their jobs and the final quality of their products. By limiting the focus of our measurement we are failing to leverage the motivational benefit of allowing employees to realize their contribution to quality outcomes.
What can we do to change the paradigm?
To create change you need to visibly distribute responsibility throughout the organization by establishing measurements in all departments or functions that have an impact on customer satisfaction. It is key here that the measurements be visible, relevant to the function or department being measured and that they make sense. By developing data collection around the relevant measures you are providing a vehicle for recognizing everyone’s contribution to the organization’s success.
The contribution of statistical process control and HACCP.
In manufacturing operations statistical process control has long been utilized to help organizations monitor and improve the outcomes of their processes. In food processing and other industries where it is difficult to test or sample products without destroying them we often find HACCP methods deployed to monitor and keep production on track. In both cases there is a need for frequent and timely recording of relevant data and the monitoring of that data to determine trends and promptly take corrective action. Each of these programs are great examples of how measurement disburses responsibility for success throughout the organization. The measurement events inherent in these programs help every employee understand and participate in contributing to operational success and the goal of customer satisfaction.
Access to the right tools holds companies back.
The reason companies do not follow the SPC or HACCP model in all their operational areas is often sourced in the difficulty of coordinating and publishing that data in an enterprise-wide method. Paper and pen, spreadsheets or strategically placed white boards can begin our processes for data collection. Over time we see such tools lose value and erode the credibility of our programs because they require tedious efforts to transcribe data so it can be published in formats that are accessible on a company-wide basis.
Rapid feedback is where paper fails.
Challenges like this mean companies that could benefit from real time monitoring and communication of their performance data don’t engage in these activities unless compelled to do so by regulatory or other requirements. Products and processes vary greatly from company to company and accommodating this range of demands requires very flexible software solutions. This requirement for flexibility is most frequently met with paper based systems, but such systems, as already stated, often fail in delivering the most cost effective outcomes because of their inability to be responsive in a timely manner. Paper based data has to be transcribed before it can be analyzed delaying the ability to identify actionable trends. There is a significant need to switch from paper to software but a limited selection of suitable solutions hampers that effort.
The hurdles in switching from paper to software.
There are software solutions for quality control. They are not widely deployed because they carry high price tags that are frequently based on user counts. Access based on per user cost is not an intuitive model for a quality application because the goal of quality is to have everyone involved. Less costly solutions tend to be single point of use so they may enable data analysis but they have cumbersome interfaces for data access.
These are just some of the roadblocks that businesses encounter when deploying organization-wide measurement systems.
Cost-effective solutions from Horizons.
The development and release of Quality Essentials Suite tackles these roadblocks while providing support for organizations with significant Certificate of Analysis requirements. Our license model supports unlimited user access for either single or multi company applications which allows us to deliver an affordable solution. We provide end to end functionality from data collection to analysis and reporting, enabling the full benefits of quality control and assurance. Our installation is client/server based so users can easily publish and distribute the data across the organization enabling full visibility of performance.
Statistical process control and capability measures now added.
We also offer tolerance reports that graph statistical limits and generate process capability values in line with Six Sigma and other standards. This additional reporting functionality incorporates the range of calculations that support Cpk and related capability values and indexes.