Some of the essential elements of Six Sigma are obvious, such as the use of statistical techniques. However, some of the more subtle but extremely important aspects of Six Sigma are hidden within the business culture of companies that use Six Sigma successfully. Any company using Six Sigma won’t succeed if it focuses only on statistics and fails to develop a supporting company culture.
The key elements and the secret of Six Sigma’s success are customer satisfaction, a process mindset and commitment from a whole company, including leadership and employees. Higher quality throughout results in satisfied customers and ultimately leads to higher profits.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is an approach based on using statistical analysis to improve business processes. When the intricacies of processes are understood and variations are controlled, results are more predictable and profitable.
The goal is to improve processes until defects are so low they are statistically irrelevant. This proven approach is implemented in many industries to increase customer satisfaction and save costs.
Peter Peterka, expert in Lean Six Sigma, and Managing Partner of 6Sigma.us, has insight on how to apply Six Sigma methods to business processes. 6Sigma.us is at the forefront of Six Sigma certification and consulting services.
Six Sigma uses quality improvement methodology called DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. When this methodology is employed, it affects every aspect of a company.
1. Customer service
Customers are the center of any business and in Six Sigma, customer focus is a top priority. At every point, influencing customer perception and delighting customers is essential.
This includes offering competitive prices, on-time delivery, clear and correct transaction processing and much more. Customer loyalty and retention will only ever happen as a result of high levels of customer satisfaction.
Great customer service is vital when everything is going well but also when problems occur. The reasons given by most customers for taking their business elsewhere is dissatisfaction with employee attitudes and with the experience.
Often the company does not even realize a customer is dissatisfied and implementing Six Sigma reduces the risk of customer dissatisfaction. Customers are the ones who define quality and they expect the best.
2. The Process (Outside in thinking)
As a business owner, you need to see your business from the point of view of your customers. Seeing your processes from their point of view, you can gauge what is important to them in terms of quality.
By understanding the business lifecycle from their perspective, you have insight into what they are feeling. With this knowledge, you can identify areas where you can make improvements that add substantial value from their point of view.
Enhancing customer satisfaction means achieving command over various processes. By employing Six Sigma methodology, for example, employees learn how to manage time more effectively, resulting in more productivity and efficiency. They are able to identify factors that could negatively affect a project leading to long cycle times.
3. Employee and leadership commitment
It is critical to invest in all employees, providing opportunities and incentives for them to focus their talents and energies on satisfying customers.
When employees believe they are important to your company, their loyalty grows. By using Six Sigma problem-solving and techniques, they are able to develop and this helps to create a climate where employees are motivated.
Training of employees in Six Sigma quality techniques, tools and strategies occurs at different levels, but all have the opportunity for leadership. Involving everyone on a team is critical as it’s the whole team that makes things happen.