Productivity is measured as a ratio of output to input. While this is easy to measure and analyze when manufacturing products with a set amount of raw material input and final output, the service industry struggles to quantify these metrics. The service quality and productivity are highly dependent on the service provider. Since service providers are human beings, it is impossible to standardize services. The high dependency on the human element in a service industry makes controlling productivity a rather difficult job. Although, with the help of a few tips, it is possible to standardize and optimize your service productivity, let's take a look:
Tip #1: Automation
While it is not possible to automate the service provider's activities, it is absolutely possible to automate as many pre and post-activities that are related to the service itself. Some of the tools that help with this would include appointment scheduling software, customer relationship management software, customer account management applications, and more. These tools aid in standardizing the customer experience by removing human involvement. Automation also helps streamline the process and reduce turnaround times while simultaneously reducing errors. Tools help collect data such as high appointment times, repeat customers, customer satisfaction scores, and more that further help in decision-making and finally in improving overall productivity. Let's take Appointo, the automated calendar scheduling tool, for example. Appointo helps service firms collect appointments from the website itself and updates the service provider's calendar with the details of the same. It also helps map information collected over time such as appointment trends basis time, days of the week, and service provider availabilities that help in managing human resources in the long run. Reduced times, data-driven decisions, and error-free services together contribute to improved productivity.
Tip #2: Training
Training the staff with the right procedures and service delivery techniques may not help entirely overcome all human challenges, but it is definitely a step to improve service quality. Since a service satisfaction score for a customer encompasses various other metrics than just the service itself, automating peripheral tasks helps improve the service quality and bring customer satisfaction. Let's take the example of a doctor's clinic. The patients expect the least wait times, correct diagnosis, prescriptions, and an acceptable solution for their symptoms. While the doctors are educated for diagnosis and prescriptions, training them in soft skills such as communication and in software helps the business showcase a professional attitude while also serving happy customers. Lastly, training and updating the service providers with the latest techniques, tools, and procedures is a must to stay ahead of the curve and improve overall performance and ultimately productivity.
Tip #3: Standardized offering
Every service provider has their unique style and manner in which they provide their service. While some hairdressers are chatty and enjoy socializing with their customers, some like to listen to music and concentrate on the work. While your business hires the best fit for your brand, it is difficult to change their personalities. Standardizing the service journey in this case brings a semblance of quality in the customer's view. Let's take an example of a pet grooming shop. While every groomer in the shop attends to the different pets in their own manner, setting up the procedure of treating the customers from the time they enter the shop to the time they leave will ensure the customer feels as if the service received from the business is of the same quality every time they visit. This also helps the business time the separate sections of the service and manage their calendars accordingly. Well-managed calendars lead to the service providers handling the most amount of services they can, bringing in higher productivity.
Tip #4: Customer involvement
Another age-old technique to improve service quality and productivity is to increase the involvement of the customer in the service delivery. Let's take a concierge service as an example: Since the customer queries are quite varied in this field, understanding the requirement is a time-consuming process for the service provider. Also, since the questionnaire for collecting every query is pretty much standard, let the customer fill a website or an application form and submit their query. As the customer fills in the answers, the form can be built to ask relative questions and assign the query to the right individual. This simple task of involving the customer in the service delivery process not only reduces your effort, it also helps cut short the turnaround time for service delivery, which in turn helps improve productivity.
Tip #5: Match supply with demand
As mentioned at the start of this blog, productivity is a measure of not just the output but also the input. Simply speaking, ensuring that the resources spent on delivering the services are reduced, the productivity can be improved. The primary resources in a service business are the service providers, and optimizing the number of service providers is not possible - we cannot possibly hire half a human, can we now?! Although it is possible to optimize the working hours of the employees. This is possible through data analysis and the demand-supply equation. Once the business is up and running, it becomes imperative that you analyze the visitor information to understand the nature of your business. Every business has a peak and slump period. Match your business's employee strength with that of these periods and ensure no additional resources are wasted when the demand is low.
Service industry professionals face a number of challenges and we hope these tips help you all overcome some of these.
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