Tuesday Toolkit 9/1/2020

Good morning. Together, we can boost quality. 

Tuesday’s Tool
Today we’re diving into quality. Specifically for service industries. What makes a service high quality? Measuring quality in a service industry relies on a set of considerations known as SERVQUAL (Service quality). The criteria were developed in the 1980’s and refined in the early 1990’s by A. Parasuraman et al.

 The 5 factors⤵
Tangibles- the appearance of buildings, equipment, people, etc. 
Reliability- ability to deliver the expected service dependably 
Responsiveness- willingness and ability to provide prompt service 
Assurance- degree to which the provider installs trust and confidence
Empathy- how well the provider pays attention to and cares for the customer

I’d add “perceived quality” to the list as well. If you perceive someone’s handiwork or a businesses software as being of high quality, you’re more likely to think of it as such. Whether we realize it or not, we’re all in the service industry. We serve customers, co-workers, family & friends (and pets). Delivering higher quality to those we serve builds better relationships, creates more value, and brings about more positive interactions. 

So how do you improve your quality?  First, you gotta ask the people what they want. If you’re not capturing the voice of the customer (or whomever you’re delivering to), you’re missing out on the biggest stakeholder’s input. They define quality. Run surveys, ask questions, get to know why your customers choose you.

Try these questions.
1. What compelled you to buy from {company}? 
2. What can you do now, that you could not do prior to receiving {service}? 
3. How did you discover {company}? 
4. What sparked your interest in {company}?
5. How did {brand} stick out compared to {competitor}? 
6. Did your experience match your expectation? If not, where was the disconnect? 
7. Would you be disappointed if our company disappeared? Why or why not?
8. What does reliability mean to you? 
9. Do you feel understood by {company}? If not, why not? 
10. Hey, {coworker}, what can I do that would make this easier for you? 

You’ll need to insert the relevant criteria into the bracketed spots and modify the questions slightly to make them useful in your domain. E.G. If you routinely deliver reports to a boss or co-worker, question 6 might read, “Did the report deliver what you expected it to? if not, what was missing?” 

Next time you’d like to make an improvement in one of the above areas, start slow. Choose a single point to focus on, then establish the current standard. Let’s take an Accounting firm and Reliability as a focal point for this example. 

How is Reliability measured in an Accounting firm? A few examples might be payroll being met on time, accounts receivable being received on time, accounts payable paid on time, or business taxes paid on time, etc. 

Establish the current metric. Maybe accounts receivable (AR) only gets 83% of expected payments on time. Yeesh. That would certainly not be ideal. 

Knowing what you’re looking for, though, gives you the starting point for making an improvement. A project can now begin to identify why AR is only getting paid correctly 83% of the time. Is it unclear expectations up front? Is it one vendor that’s behind? Does the AR team take off early on Fridays, leaving work unfinished?

Once the root cause has been identified, a solution can be developed.
That solution could be changing the way expectations are set up front. Cutting the bad client off until all payments are made. It might mean a quarterly firing of bad clients. Maybe it’s a new payment processing tool. Knowing what the problem is, though, will point you in the right direction for finding the right solution. 

The above is just one example of how a business could improve a particular SERVQUAL metric. Regardless of domain and metric, the act of improving quality requires a deep understanding of what the problem is, and a commitment to making it better.
Rinse and repeat with different focal points. Doing a little every day turns into a lot over time. Go forth and boost quality. 🚀
Best Tweet of the Week

During Pandemic, I guess we all need to celebrate small wins. Is this too much celebration?

 Image description

Podcast highlight of the week
Patrick O’Shaugnessy’s Invest Like the Best had CEO and Founder Katrina Lake on  to talk all things Stitch Fix. She founded the company in 2011 to deliver clothing that felt hand picked for you via a subscription service that didn’t break the bank. 

Three big takeaways- 
1. Stitch Fix has did more than $1 Billion dollars in revenue in 2019. 
2. Their data analytics team has built a recommendation engine so powerful, users don’t feel the need to go to conventional retail stores anymore. 
3. Lake recruited Eric Colson, the engineer who wrote the recommendation algorithm at Netflix, to join the team pre revenue. It’s no easy task to get someone to walk away from a big salary to join an unknown business. 

Article of the Week
Did you know that Urinals are dangerous now? Fortune’s Katherine Dunn breaks it down for us;
Urinals and toilets may spread COVID-19, new research shows, adding fuel to the mask debate


Band to check out
Need a break from the top 40 songs? Check out Gaelic Storm (SpotifyYouTube)

A California band that plays Irish and Scottish rock. They formed in 1997, and are still touring to this day. The song, Hills of Connemara was the song Rose and Jack danced to in the movie Titanic. My Favorite songs are The Beer Song, Scalliwag and The Teachers Snow Day (an adventure inspiring instrumental that could easily be placed in Lord of the Rings)

They have a wide variety of music to listen to. Toss ’em on shuffle, and discover your new favorite. 

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