Six Sigma Can Improve Your Customer Service

John Krautzel
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Six Sigma represents a quality management program that gets companies to a very high standard of quality control. Firms that reach the highest mark of the program have only 3.4 defects per 1 million units produced. Customer service departments can use this type of system to engage more successfully with clients. Getting to this near-perfect level takes years of dedication, hard work and training.

Imagine a company that applies Six Sigma principles to customer service. That means a company averages 3.4 bad customer interactions in 1 million phone calls, emails, social media posts and in-person conversations. Instead of perfecting ways to prevent product defects, this process now evaluates problems pertaining to how a company services what it sells.

The first sigma, or the lowest rank of this program, involves identifying customer service problems. Learn to clearly define problem areas, determine what happens during bad customer interactions and move forward to the next rank. Ascertaining problems is the first step in getting help.

The second sigma seeks to define quantifiable ways to fix problems. Discover every shred of evidence possible as to how your agents can serve clients in more meaningful ways. Does your phone system lead to hang-ups? Do you have a dedicated social media account? Do your employees get uncomfortable in their chairs? Any of these factors may cause problems.

Analyze problems in the third step. Now that you have all the data, you have to interpret the information to improve customer service. What brought about specific actions? Do you need a new phone system to solve hang-ups? Is your social media account monitored at all times? Do certain people at specific times of day cause problems?

Address problems in the fourth rung of the sigma ladder. Recommend steps to bring about better customer interactions. Outline what needs to happen to solve the problems. If you need to spend money, set it aside to implement these ideas. Do you need to buy new chairs? Does your phone system software need an overhaul?

The fifth, and final, part of perfecting customer service revolves around putting controls in place to ensure high standards stay in position. Start an evaluation process to examine what needs to happen when customer engagement breaks down. Learn what keeps employees working at optimum levels. Evaluate staffing levels, automated tracking programs and employee breaks.

Determine how active your social media account must be to meet demand. Learn when to deliver bad news versus good news during a phone call. Engage with customers rather than speed up the interaction to get to the next incoming call. Create good feelings in clients, even if you do not solve their initial problems right away. Treat customers properly and they may come back to your company even if a product or service fails.

When you reach the pinnacle of customer service, the evaluation process continues as companywide needs change. Never stop trying to reach the top and your profits may improve thanks to satisfied customers and happy employees.

Photo courtesy of mjtmail (tiggy) at



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