Continuous improvement is a powerful tool for driving innovation and business growth. It allows managers to create the conditions they need to change how work is done, which in turn can lead to new products or services that refresh your company's offerings and help you compete more effectively. This article will show you how continuous improvement works and provide you with strategies to improve business growth.
What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous improvement, often known as continual improvement, is the process of making improvements to services, or processes on a continuous basis. These activities may seek "incremental" change over time or "breakthrough" change all at once.
Continual Service Improvement Process
A four-step quality assurance approach, the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle, is one of the most popular tools for implementing a continuous improvement approach:
At this point, you should have identified chances for improvement and the need to develop a strategy for change.
Gather input on various concepts, choose one option using a data-driven method, and continue with the project.
Experiment with your concept and collect data on its effects. Analyse the findings to see whether they're as good as you thought.
Share your findings with others in your organisation and automate as much as possible to streamline continuous improvements.
Continuous Business Improvement
Although it might seem counterintuitive, many businesses still lack adequate detailed information about their digital customer interactions. These missing elements typically include things like volume, frequency, and time spent on the exchange. More importantly, many companies do not have clear insight as to why customers initiated conversations with their business or what their behaviour patterns are. This insufficient understanding prevents them from ‘hearing’ the true voice of the customer and gathering actionable insight into who they are, and what they truly want and need.
To ensure you’re achieving your growth goals, you need to monitor every step of the customer journey. A great way to do that is to leverage conversations to create continuous feedback loops. Chatbots are well suited to do this job, by easily collecting and collating tremendous volumes of data, which can then be utilised to provide a better understanding of these patterns and trends. After all, customers are the ones who dictate how they feel during the interactions with your business. When you listen to their feedback you can get inside the minds of customers, note any shortfalls, and continuously adjust your marketing, sales, and service efforts to better suit their needs.
Measure Customer Satisfaction
Natalie manages a team of 30 real estate agents in her local office. While customers may verbally report that they’ve been satisfied with the agency’s services, they don’t always return when listing or purchasing a new home.
To gain a better understanding of her agents' performance, Natalie has enlisted the help of chatbots on the company’s website and social media profiles. Data collected from these interactions paired with sentiment analysis have enabled her to gain actionable insights on customer data, ranging from marketing missteps to performance issues. This in turn has helped identify the top performers on her team, as well as those who might require additional training.
Reviewing chatbot conversations can help you identify issues or define important factors necessary to optimise and inform your customer service development. In a December 2020 article in Forbes, author Joao Graca noted that when it comes to chatbots, measurement matters.
When testing and refining your chatbot strategy, Joao advised that you pay attention to business metrics such as the number of abandoned chats, the number of chats where customers don't get an appropriate response, and how long it takes to come to a resolution, among others. Short interactions in the early stages of the customer journey might suggest the need for updating the copy to better engage visitors. On the other hand, conversations that drag on may indicate that the chatbot did not understand your customers’ questions and either answered erroneously or sent them down the wrong path.
Whether conversations are too long or too short, it’s important to review and react as these are all important elements of the sentiment analysis necessary to assess customer satisfaction.
Adapt to Customer Expectations
Jared owns a boutique investment firm with a focus on wealthy clients. He relies on word of mouth and ads placed in local publications and on social media to reach new customers. As a result, new visitors regularly come to his website, but he has started to notice that they often leave without really exploring the options, let alone completing an inquiry form or scheduling a consultation.
After adding an interactive chatbot, Jared was able to amass an enormous amount of information about these potential customers and utilise the resulting analytics to understand what they were looking for. This real-time and historical information empowered him to greatly improve his service.
As Jared quickly learned, the conversations your customers have with chatbots can powerfully inform your future marketing strategies. Chatbots can collect an enormous amount of data, which can be used to hone in on the most relevant elements, such as key search phrases and recurring questions.
They can even generate follow-up questions, which can encourage a first-time visitor to remain engaged and further explore your offerings. Similarly productive chatbot-based conversations with long-term clients allow business owners like Jared to create effective sales strategies by segmenting them into different groups based on their behaviours, preferences, and tastes.
Discover New Markets and Opportunities
Graham runs a property maintenance business focused on bespoke house refurbishments. While he enjoys a good amount of repeat business, he's always looking for ways to improve customer retention and increase his overall client list. Adding a chatbot to his firm's website has helped Graham gain insight into industry trends, as well as potential shortfalls within his current offerings.
By analysing when his prospects most often start conversations he was able to efficiently schedule online chat shifts of human representatives, which increased the percentage of closed deals coming from customers that required human touch before deciding to engage with his company.
Graham was also able to spot seasonal patterns, which enabled him to hire additional manpower in advance to take more jobs during the peak season. By adding extra slots to his calendar he was able to take on more business during the period of high demand without increasing fixed costs for the rest of the year which helped him to further reduce his business costs.
He analysed the location of his customers and quickly realised that there is a big demand for his services in a nearby city. He used to turn down many of these opportunities because they were too far away, but suddenly he concluded that there is a market gap and it makes perfect sense to create an additional branch and expand his business to this location.
By analysing unhandled queries he worked out that a lot of them circle around "plumbing". This wasn’t his main area of expertise, so he used to refer these prospects to other companies or subcontractors, but when he understood that he should expand his core range of services, it resulted in increased revenue and improved customer satisfaction, because he was able to maintain higher quality standards.
These smart observations have allowed him to better adapt to customers' needs and discover new business opportunities. First-person, conversational data gathered from chatbot interactions can be used to understand shifts in the economy and better interpret customer desires. It can also provide invaluable insight that informs product and service development. What’s more, this data can be accessed at macro levels and utilised to strategize for the future.
Innovate and Stay Ahead of Competition
By quickly accumulating large volumes of data, chatbots can empower you to make continuous improvements to both products and customer service metrics, while also meeting customer expectations. Chatbots can also help you identify shortcomings in your current offerings, which increases your chances of better serving existing customers, while also reaching new, underserved markets in your particular niche.
To stay ahead of the competition and future-proof your business, it is of the utmost importance to train bots with new data and utilise AI chatbots that analyse the pattern in every interaction, and train themselves to keep the users or customers engaged.
In other words, bots will learn to improve their response capabilities based on user feedback, which automatically enhances the experience for your prospects and customers. Employing a chatbot in this way helps you to expand your business and your customer base further and further, thereby meeting or even exceeding your company’s goals.
Innovation is the key to success for any business, but you have to be constantly looking for ways to improve your product or service offerings. The more data your company collects on customer satisfaction and marketing efforts, the better able you'll be to adapt to changing needs or discover new opportunities in a particular market niche.
Chatbots can help with this by providing valuable insights into user behaviour patterns so that you can understand what works best and where there are shortcomings before they become an issue. Utilizing these data insights for continuous business improvement will help you stay ahead of the competition and offer better services with each passing year, which is not only beneficial to your bottom line but also keeps current customers satisfied.