process improvementWhen I ask someone what they understand what the term ‘improvement’ means, I often get back the response “make it better and faster”.

However, improvement needs to be defined up front, before the project starts in order to ensure that customer needs are met.

As an example, a call center may want to improve their customer satisfaction rating — and this may mean that we need to slow down the customer interface process in order to improve customer perception of satisfaction.

A customer will tell you that it’s annoying at best, and irritating or aggravating at worst, to be rushed off a call without having your questions answered in a way that you understand; by instructing customer service representatives to slow down, actively listen to the customer and respond accordingly, and query for any other concerns prior to terminating the call, customer satisfaction can often be improved.

This does not mean “better and faster” in this case; it only means “better”.