Quality management – the rocky road to continuous improvement and achieving customer satisfaction
Looking back at the results of our December 2014 customer survey results, it raised the question of how to achieve those small improvements in our processes which have the potential to make big differences to customers?
It dawned on us that many of the techniques already in place at Plastribution are drawn from the well documented philosophy of ‘kaizen’. This Japanese philosophy of ‘change for the better’ has been adopted in many businesses. It is based on the philosophical belief that everything can be improved. When applied to quality management systems, kaizen looks to challenge the status quo, and to examine everyday business processes with the belief that small often imperceptible changes, can add up to substantial changes over the longer term.
The kaizen approach is a philosophy with no direct instructions on how to apply the beliefs to particular businesses. The approach can be found in many different process improvement methods ranging from Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality Circles and employees suggestions. The key to success is that improvements are suggested by the people doing the work.
So, what techniques do we use? We have a 3 pronged approach.
- Continuous improvement projects – these projects examine a specific area of the business which has been flagged for process review. Small teams look at a particular process with the hope to recommend areas for refinement/improvement. Continuous Improvement… by Everybody! Everyday! Everywhere!
- Process model meetings – regular meetings attended by managers and team supervisors which champion the principle of the ‘perfect order’. These meetings look to check all our internal processes in order to ensure smooth transactions. Good processes bring good results.
- Suggestion box – accessible to all and a very visible means of letting people know that their input is valued. Perhaps not the most scientific method of achieving improvements but you never quite know what someone might come up with!
Does any of this work? We’ll let you know after the 2015 survey results are checked!