The One Percent Solution: Kaizen

By Mark Sanna, Sherpa Certified Forum Facilitator

What do you suppose would happen if you made major changes to every area of your business at the same time? It would be a nightmare! How would your team respond? Even worse, how would you know that you are doing the right things to improve your customer service? If you failed to produce the results you were looking for, how would you know which change or changes weren’t working? The answer is you wouldn’t!

KaizenThe way to monitor the effectiveness of any improvements you make is to make them incrementally. By creating an atmosphere that fosters consistent, incremental improvement in all areas of your business, you will give your employees a sense of certainty and encourage them not only to accept your changes and innovations but to take ownership of them and your commitment to outstanding customer service.

The Japanese have a culture of commitment to excellence in customer service. They call it “kaizen.” Loosely translated, kaizen means consistent and never-ending improvement. This culture of kaizen was an important reason for Japan’s economic and industrial success following World War II. Kaizen does not unleash its magic in a tidal wave of improvement. Kaizen works because it creates consistent improvement one wave at a time. This process has also been called the “One Percent Solution”.

Your business is composed of many divisions, departments, and functions. Each delivers an important part of the service that touches your customers. Taken together, they make up the total experience that determines whether your customers will be merely satisfied with their care or if they will sing your praises at every opportunity.