Do you KISS your clients?
At the EuRA International Relocation Congress held recently in Warsaw, Poland, IOR President Kendra Mirasol led a popular panel discussion highlighting continuous improvement strategies for Destination Services Providers around the globe. Audience members were also introduced to the KISS exercise and how organizations can use this framework to continually improve relationships with clients and partners. Read further to learn how to conduct the KISS exercise. As always, we are interested to hear your thoughts!
LEAN, AGILE, BLACK-BELT and ISO 9001. These terms are all ubiquitous today in the corporate world and, at their core, focus on continuous improvement. This was a philosophy that first emerged in Japan with Toyota’s manufacturing process. US companies quickly adopted “Kaizen,” as it was known in Japan, as the basis of their quality management systems.
For Relocation Management Companies (RMCs) and their supply chain partners, including Destination Services Providers, quality is a standard key performance indicator (KPI) included in client contracts. The importance of this aspect of a service level agreement cannot be overlooked; in some cases, significant financial or other contractual penalties apply when service failures occur.
The KISS exercise may enable companies not only to improve quality but also to enhance and strengthen their relationships with clients and supply partners.
When IOR went through its EuRA Global Quality Seal (EGQS) re-certification process, we were fortunate to have been scrutinized by the James Bond of auditors. An imposing fellow of 6’4”, salt & pepper hair, dressed in a black leather jacket and black pants, he strode into the office with what I swore was a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. This guy was serious and forced us to be laser focused.
“What percentage of your customer complaints are just that, customer complaints vs. actual service failures?” he boomed. Once we drilled down to the root causes of these complaints, he then re-focused our attention to establishing a process to decrease the number of service failures. He suggested we ask ourselves four simple questions:
After a trial run with one of our internal processes, we then completed the KISS exercise with a long-standing RMC partner. In this case, while we were maintaining high-quality service scores, it became apparent that operations teams from both sides were struggling with difficult working relationships. Once the situation escalated up to senior management, IOR suggested that both sides try the KISS format as a means to solve the issues and lay the groundwork for continued improvement in our partnership.
First, both companies met amongst themselves to answer the four questions. That process alone had a positive outcome, as each side felt they were being listened to. Not surprisingly, each side also felt that the issues were not their fault!
Second, prior to both teams meeting, leadership from each side reviewed their team’s answers and assessed the situation on a “pre-call” to prepare themselves to guide the KISS conversation. And OK, let’s be honest – we both sanitized the comments a bit! Establishing trust and setting the ground rules prior to the call was key to the success of the exercise. We agreed to be transparent, focus on issues versus individuals, document with examples, and practice empathy and respect during the discussion.
Both leaders acted as role models by being objective and supportive during the KISS discussion. The “aha’s” and crux of the discussion centered around the “STARTs” and “STOPs,” whereby each team felt empowered to discuss ideas, and new ways to work together crystallized during the call.
Finally, both teams documented in the form of a KISS matrix what was discussed and agreed to and distributed it amongst themselves. The teams have now moved into “high performing” status, and they continue to adjust processes and interactions as they ask themselves the four KISS questions on an on-going basis.
While this was an exercise of KISSing our client, there are many other ways to apply this exercise. Tell us, do you KISS in your organization?
Written by: Kendra Mirasol, GMS-T, President, IOR Global Services. Contact her here.