The goal is customers who receive superb quality in a flexible manner
Brand ID’s customer service neatly summarised its goal in the sentence: “We genuinely want to be our customers’ best partner.”
Then, things started to happen. Teamwork was streamlined, with superfluous and overlapping activities trimmed off. Time was freed for both sales work and customer service, which directly benefits the customers.
A year ago, Brand ID’s sales and customer service joined forces.
“We assessed where we were at the time and set for ourselves the goal of providing our customers with the best possible service while being the best possible partner for them,” summarises Sales Director Janne Väkiparta.
Customer service adopted indicators to carefully monitor each employee’s daily activities. The whole process was outlined on the team board on the wall. It was a tangible and thought-provoking experience.
“The team board showed clearly the way the processes work, what the bottlenecks are and where things overlap. Once everyone was aware of it, we started to see an improvement,” says Janne.
A natural way to work, each moment of each day
Previously, customer service was part of the production team. Now, it has been merged with sales.
“We strengthened the team with new employees, because the indicators highlighted that need. We
polished our methods with the aim of constantly moving our customer service towards the highest
possible level. Each moment of each day,” says Janne. “The method is part of our daily life, a natural way
to work. Transparency is important. Everything is expressed on the team board – big or small, a daily
challenge, an idea or a suggested improvement. We take all development ideas seriously. We will weigh
the idea, test it and, if it turns out to be good, turn it into a practice. The core idea is continuous
Customer service moved from the production floor onto the same floor with sales, and there was an instant improvement in communication.
“Now, the whole team is on the same page. Things are no longer obscured or forgotten.”
It goes without saying that the starting point is a genuine will to serve our customers.
“To begin with, we mapped the skills of our customer service staff and updated them to a unified level. This directly benefits the customers. Now, everyone is able to assist the customer, even during holidays,” explains Janne.
The mapping also revealed everyone’s special areas of expertise and interests.
“We encourage self-improvement, and many of us have broken new ground. We have an enthusiastic bunch of people who are willing to learn and work brilliantly together,” says Janne.
The employees are clearly more motivated now.
“They listen to us and take our suggestions seriously. The team boards are open to everyone, and all proposals are taken under consideration. What you say has a genuine impact.”
Brand ID encourages its people to invest in things that they are interested in.
“One of our new employees was very interested in quality, and they are now part of our quality team. Knowing that you can keep developing all the time not only improves motivation, it also makes work more enjoyable.”
Janne remembers his own KAIZEN™ training. The lecturer quoted an example from a Toyota factory. They
pointed out that developing operations and ideas are an important part of daily work. The sentence that
stuck in mind was: “First we build people, then we build cars.”
An encouraging culture of openness
The work of the team revolving around the customer takes place throughout the chain. Elisa Huttu from customer service has nothing but praise for the reform.
“The teams have made our work even more customer-oriented.”
It also makes it easier to handle the unpleasant stuff.
“Kaizen has created a culture of openness where highlighting and solving issues is a good thing. We do not look for the guilty party or point fingers at anyone. Instead, we look for the weak link in the process, which made the error possible. Then we fix it, so that the same thing will not happen again” .
Teams benefitting customers
There are over ten teams, plus support teams that meet on a regular basis.
“For example, the quality team meets once a week. We go through issues such as complaints. We discuss their causes, the way we responded to them, and whether we were able to fix everything. One guarantee for a positive customer experience is the ability to deal with complaints quickly and professionally.”
Transparency is key. All of the team boards, including the executive team’s, are available for all employees to view.
If necessary, the employees can also attend the meetings of other teams, not just the ones related to their own duties.
Direct support for the strategy
All of the reforms are directly derived from the corporate strategy.
“What we do in our daily work helps with the implementation of our corporate strategy. Our operations are based on the idea of serving our customers as best we can, whether it is a question of customer service, quality, correct invoicing or processing emails – in short, all of our operations. Our employees have noticed that their improvement suggestions are taken into account and that their comments are not buried in an initiative box. This encourages them and helps them to approach their own tasks in a positive way.
Today, employees understand the benefits of continuous learning and development.”
“Brand ID is a safe, privately owned company. It invests time and money in the continuous development of its employees’ know-how and well-being. This makes the future feel safe,” says Janne.
The way the reform is visible to the customers:
We answer your call immediately
We respond to emails straight away.
Our deliveries are accurate and timely.
We tackle complaints quickly.
What is Kaizen™
A Japanese term, Kaizen (改善) means “to make better”. KAIZEN™ is a structured management system, the basic principles of which include the customer and producing value for the customer via effective processes. The objective is to constantly improve the efficacy of processes by cutting down waste, i.e. activities that do not produce value for the customer. Application of the KAIZEN™ system enables the fast implementation of significant changes without major investment or risks.