Being in operations management involves handling many aspects of running an organisation. The operations department also have managers that are assigned at the shop floor or contact centre floor to have a hands-on involvement in day-to-day operations. Store managers, for example, oversee delivery and displaying of products, monitor sales, monitor staff performance, create monthly reports, as well as look for new ways to improve the branch performance. Similarly, contact centre operations involve ensuring that targets are met and that the systems are accurate and effective. The operation arm of an organization implements the design for delivering quality products or services on time.
Every business has long-term objectives that are noted in their business plans. It includes the company vision and mission. Operation heads strive to meet these objectives day in and day out. They create long term plans and changes and divided it into daily tasks. These tasks are part of milestones that need to be achieved because they are indicators of success and movement towards the objective. Aside from this, they need to cope with the daily challenges of meeting customer needs or sometimes handling customer complaints.
In creating target improvements and changes, the operations manager should keep the wants and needs of customers. You need to check on what they want to get from your channel, whether it’s face-to-face contact, call interaction or over the internet. There are five standard operations performance objectives that can be used as basis for improvement, and all of this can also be related to the needs of the customers:
- Quality. This relates to the standard of the product offered or the quality of customer service. It means that the product meets the expectation of the customers. If they are given the chance to use a web platform, the user experience should entice them to continue using the platform.
- Speed. This is how quickly the products can be delivered to the customers. If they have support issues, it is how quickly their questions are answered. In call centers for example, efficiency is enforced by limiting call handling time and accurate staffing, but this can sometimes lower customer satisfaction. There should be balance between the two.
- Dependability. This means delivering the product or completing the service on the agreed date and time and according to the agreed cost. Achieving dependability builds customer trust and loyalty as you have been able to deliver according to their expectations.
- Flexibility. This is the availability of products that can adapt depending on consumer needs. Aside from the product, it also refers to the company’s ability to change at their operations to meet increased volume demands.
- Cost. The cost of manufacturing the product will affect the cost that the customers have to pay. If low cost is one of your objectives, you can study the volume produced and see how it can drive lower costs.
Once the goals have been set, the next step would be to plan and check how improvements can be implemented, whether at store level or at the administrative level. This improvement steps is based on the Deming Cycle, also known as the “Wheel of Continuous Improvement”. Improvement in company operations rely heavily on its employees, because their performance greatly affects the experience of your customers. Although this cycle is more employee-focused, you can also apply this by getting feedback from your customers. This is a continuous process until the desired results are achieved. The Deming Cycle involves four main phases:
- Plan. In this stage, you should ask yourself what it is that you want to accomplish. What kind of changes will bring improvement? How do you identify a change as an improvement? For example, you want to achieve savings by introducing a channel shift. Changes that would bring improvement are creating a website where other transactions will be done. To make sure if it is an improvement, the cost savings will need to be evident in the future.
- Do. It involves testing out your plan with a couple of customers. After setting up the initial website, it has to be tested out by project members and existing customers. Their feedback should be gathered so that they can be noted and implemented in the next run of the testing.
- Check. This phase determines if the previous stage is effective or not. It identifies the revisions that need to be done, or if some features need to be removed. The website has to undergo certain revisions, such as changes in the site structure, or addition or removal of certain steps during a transaction. This also involves checking the viability and response to the content of the site.
- Act. This is the implementation of the plan within the company or with the customers. Once everything is in place, and all the possible errors have been addressed, the new web platform can now be launched. As this happens, more and more feedback will come in, and more problems will arise. This will lead you to go back to step one to step four in a continuous cycle.
Efficient company operations are crucial in achieving success and competitive advantage. Knowing how to improve the daily operating functions also increases company value and improves its reputation. Combining facilities, process and employee motivation will result to a synergy that is beneficial to the company.
Technological advances have made it possible to increase efficiency while lowering resources. A channel shift from the conventional forms of contact has helped many companies reduce their operating costs, and at the same time deliver improved customer satisfaction. Compared to traditional platforms, web and mobile access has attracted more customer engagement, resulting to increased sales and interests.
There are many factors that would drive customers to your company, such as good user experience, product variety, product availability, customer service and price. Because they are the life of any business, it is vital to get them involved in changes or improvements to be implemented. In a channel shift, the users of the channels can give valuable insights and information. Continuous customer interaction is therefore essential to sustainable business success for companies of different sizes.