Customer Care Article

Dallas Crawford’s picture

By: Dallas Crawford

Manufacturers know the value of automation on the plant floor. The world is more interconnected, with more competitors, and consumers are more informed and thus more selective with purchasing decisions. With increased competition and disruption, manufacturers must leverage automation to achieve operational efficiency.

Automation of any process delivers higher productivity, lower costs, improved workplace safety, enhanced precision, and ultimately allows associates to focus on more valuable activities. Technology, and specifically machine learning, has helped expand the breadth of automation by becoming more accessible and affordable for manufacturers of every size.

Transferring plant-floor efficiency to pricing efficiency

Robotic automation on the plant floor has helped companies produce high-quality goods more quickly and efficiently. Robots perform dull, repeatable steps with reliable accuracy and do not get tired, distracted, or endure repetitive injuries.

Pricing automation is simply transferring the same plant-floor efficiencies to pricing best practices. Physical strain is unlikely from a pricing process, but mentally it can be taxing and often impossible when determining the optimal prices for unique products.

James J. Kline’s picture

By: James J. Kline

In today’s coronavirus environment, governments at all levels are under greater fiscal pressure. For instance, Oregon’s governor has told state departments to prepare for a 12-percent reduction in their budgets. Given this environment, perhaps it is time to reexamine an established approach to improving operational performance. That approach is quality management.

From 1992 to 2002, I researched and wrote about quality award-winning governments in the United States.1 With extra time on my hands, I started cleaning out old files. In the process, I found a few of the documents backing up that work.

The documents included information about 32 local governments that were using total quality management (TQM). While reviewing the current websites of these local governments, I discovered that at least seven are using or mentioning quality management. It might seem disappointing that only seven of 32 are using some form of lean management, Six Sigma, continuous improvement, or Baldrige Criteria. However, that several of these local governments have been implementing quality management for 20 years shows there is a sound quality management foundation in local government. This is a foundation that can be built upon.

Tom Taormina’s picture

By: Tom Taormina

Each article in this series presents new tools for increasing return on investment (ROI), enhancing customer satisfaction, creating process excellence, and driving risk from an ISO 9001:2015-based quality management system (QMS). They will help implementers evolve quality management to overall business management. In this article we look at the clauses and subclauses of Section 10 of the standard.

10 Improvement

Define “improvement.” In quality parlance it typically means reducing defects and making processes more efficient and mistake-proof. For the CFO it might be improving the return on investment numbers on the financials. For the marketing director it might be expanding market share. For the CEO it might be exceeding the expectations of the board of directors.

The theme of this series includes “presents new tools for increasing return on investment (ROI), enhancing customer satisfaction, creating process excellence, and driving risk from an ISO 9001:2015-based quality management system (QMS).” To conclude the theme, we will look at Clause 10 from a more holistic perspective.

10.1 General

10.1 and excellence

Steven Forrest’s default image

By: Steven Forrest

The ongoing pandemic will likely change, if not completely alter, many aspects of our daily lives. One facet that will significantly change is the way we work. After months of being in lockdown, the massive shift to working from home has proven to be effective in helping employees stay productive. This led a lot of companies—including those that were initially suspicious about it—to seriously consider remote working as a viable and legitimate work arrangement.

Richard Fendler’s picture

By: Richard Fendler

Job satisfaction is important to most people, and yet this can be a fairly nebulous concept that is tricky to achieve and also tough to measure in a meaningful way.

Luckily a number of software platforms designed to manage employee recognition have emerged in recent years, as outlined in this comparison list. The upshot is that it is not just easier for businesses to keep their workers content, but also to track satisfaction and thus extrapolate the morale trajectory for the entire organization.

Here is a look at how these platforms work, why they are useful for keeping team members happy, and how analyzing employee contentment benefits the business as a whole.

The basics

Although they vary in terms of features and functions, all employee-recognition software solutions share the same purpose, which is to codify and unify the way that appreciation for people in a workplace is demonstrated by management.

Joerg Niessing’s picture

By: Joerg Niessing

Since Covid-19’s arrival, digital resilience increasingly refers to the strategic use of digital technologies in delivering customer value and business growth despite adversities. Indeed, some industries—such as hospitality, higher education, or traditional retail—were hit more than others because they did not embed digital technologies and analytics early or strongly enough.

In building resilience, the customer-centric perspective is critical. Only companies that leverage digital technologies and data to engage with customers more effectively, enrich customer experiences, or offer innovative customer-centric business models will create long-term growth.

INSEAD’s upcoming case study on Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), the Middle East’s leading shopping mall, retail, and leisure pioneer, explores this issue further. Despite Covid-19’s impact on many of MAF’s industries, like shopping malls, entertainment, and grocery retail, the conglomerate’s digital readiness, which had been ramping up for years prior to the pandemic, significantly limited the pandemic’s negative effects.

Multiple Authors
By: Lola Butcher, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

In February 2020, the month before Covid-19 hit Boston, Partners Healthcare, the huge health system that includes Massachusetts General Hospital, treated 1,600 patients via video visits. By April, the number of patients seeking care through Partners’ video service had swelled to 242,000.

“We’re not the only ones,” said Joe Kvedar, a dermatology professor at Harvard Medical School and a telemedicine advocate at Partners for three decades, in a May webinar. The same thing was happening across the country as the Covid-19 pandemic made in-person visits at doctors’ offices dangerous for patients and clinicians alike.

Regardless of when the Covid-19 threat dissipates, video visits have crossed a tipping point to become a mainstream way to obtain care, says cardiologist Joe Smith, co-author of an overview of telemedicine in the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering. “I don’t think we go back,” he says. “For a long time, hospitals have been the cathedrals of healthcare where patients have to come. But people are now seeing that they can get their healthcare in the safety and comfort of their own home.”

Tom Taormina’s picture

By: Tom Taormina

Each article in this series presents new tools for increasing return on investment (ROI), enhancing customer satisfaction, creating process excellence, and driving risk from an ISO 9001:2015-based quality management system (QMS). They will help implementers evolve quality management to overall business management. In this article we look at the clauses and subclauses of Section 9 of the standard.

Clause 9—Performance evaluation

Clause 9 is the part of the standard that we can use to truly quantify business excellence and risk avoidance. I will propose paradigm shifts that will make the outputs of this clause more informative for senior management and will include actionable recommendations that can contribute to the success factors that are immediately palatable and implementable for the leadership.

9.1.1 Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation—General

9.1.1 and excellence
This subclause requires that the organization must establish what needs to be monitored, measured, analyzed, and evaluated.

Ben Brumfield’s picture

By: Ben Brumfield

Dang robots are crummy at so many jobs, and they tell lousy jokes to boot. In two new studies, these were common biases human participants held toward robots.

The studies were originally intended to test for gender bias, that is, if people thought a robot believed to be female may be less competent at some jobs than a robot believed to be male and vice versa. The studies’ titles even included the words “gender,” “stereotypes,” and “preference,” but researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered no significant sexism against the machines.

“This did surprise us,” says Ayanna Howard, the principal investigator in both studies. “There was only a very slight difference in a couple of jobs but not significant. There was, for example, a small preference for a male robot over a female robot as a package deliverer.” Howard is a professor in and the chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing.

Although robots are not sentient, as people increasingly interface with them, we begin to humanize the machines. Howard studies what goes right as we integrate robots into society and what goes wrong, and much of both has to do with how the humans feel about robots.

Tom Taormina’s picture

By: Tom Taormina

Each article in this series presents new tools for increasing return on investment (ROI), enhancing customer satisfaction, creating process excellence, and driving risk from an ISO 9001:2015-based quality management system (QMS). They will help implementers evolve quality management to overall business management. In this article we look at the clauses and subclauses of section 8 of the standard.

Clause 8: Operation

Clause 8 contains the requirements for planning, designing, and bringing to fruition your products or services. The processes within this clause must be robustly implemented to achieve business excellence. They must also be continually scrutinized for foreseeable risk.

8.1 Operational planning and control

8.1 and excellence
The “plan” is a series of interrelated process, each with acceptance criteria, and each with metrics that tie to the organization’s key objectives and key process indicators. Or, at least that has been my interpretation while leading scores of implementations.

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