What is Measurable Quality? The idea of taking something that is seemingly qualitative and turning it into something quantitative for measurement over time is the cornerstone of establishing key performance indicators - management via metrics. You are probably already familiar with The Vital Few versus The Trivial Many (aka Pareto's Principle or "The 80-20 Rule"). This is a long-standing concept applied to management of business processes, financial investments, sales and marketing productivity, customer satisfaction, and the list goes on.
In the business context, metrics are applied at each level of management down to individual account management itself. If managers focus on their vital few key performance metrics, the rest of the equation naturally falls into place. Each level of management, from the executive to the front-line reps has their own vital few.
At the C-level, we're talking about market share, revenue, and operational expenditures. For middle management key metrics include revenue generated per employee, departmental or team expenses, and productivity metrics like time on the phone, number of leads generated, or number of appointments scheduled. The trickle down means that immediate supervisors and their reps are tasked with managing the real details. All of this makes sense, and intuitively, this organizes the tasks appropriately and leads to success.
The problem with this approach is that it completely ignores the human factor.
- When you are rapidly signing up new customers, generating tons of qualified leads, engaging all of your hot prospects, and closing new business, are your customers guaranteed to be happy and singing your praises?
- Which of these metrics helps you understand how well your product or service is achieving your customers' objectives?
- If the increased revenue is making your employees more money, do you just assume that their income growth is keeping them happy and energized?
There's a science evolving...
In manufacturing we went from W. Edward Deming's Total Quality Management movement and then added a focus on standards as the key to quality. Quality through standards has continued to evolve internationally through the generations of ISO compliance, and the science moved to the world of Six Sigma Quality management. Six Sigma has traditionally been applied to manufacturing, but in the hands of John H. Flemming and Jim Asplund, Six Sigma was applied as a management tool for customer interactions called Human Sigma.
Human Sigma is about understanding the work environment and individual employees. Human Sigma brings the human factor into the set of KPIs, and the approach establishes a foundation for determining steps to create consistently excellent employee customer interactions.
Finally we can begin to take the previously unmeasurable human factor into account and track it over time. I wonder if this will generate more thank you pizzas?
Director of Customer Experience
Palo Alto Software