Why is consistency important? Your customers want predictability. In any business, customers expect the same standards every time. The practice of standardised work can help you deliver a great service or product, and ensure that your customers receive this value the same way every time.
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Consistency establishes reputation
When people experience variation in the level or quality of service that you offer, in that moment you show that your delivery can be inconsistent. Not bad, just not the same every time. And this makes it difficult for customers to build trust and make recommendations. According to Strikedeck 89% of customers say they get frustrated by inconsistency but only 1 in 26 unhappy customers make a complaint. If you want to build advocates for your brand, consistency is everything. Because when it all comes down to it- a brand is all about consistency.
The late Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author, said: "Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals."
Standardised work formalises best practice
One way to achieve consistency is to document current best practices to create Standardised Work, one of the most powerful but underused tools in organisations. This is a set of tasks and standards to produce the highest possible degree of consistency in work. It represents the best sequence and most efficient methods to perform a process.
1. Standardised Business Processes
When processes are standardised, each person who performs a task follows a method that is based on best practice.
According to AIIM research, companies that implement Business Process Management and standardise work methods for their team can benefit from as much as a 41% increase in ROI within one year.
Standardising work reduces the opportunity for human error or variations in the standard of service. Promoting a consistently high job quality will produce a positive experience for your customers whilst minimising the opportunity for errors that might lead to costly rework.
Standardised work enables tasks to be evaluated and managed in terms of safety and efficiency, meeting legislative requirements for compliance. Measures for managing and mitigating risks can be built into standard work processes, making work safer. As the tasks are evaluated and appropriately resourced, it avoids the need for staff to take risky shortcuts, which could lead to a mishap.
3. Improved profitability
Once a process is fully understood, it improves the ability to cost and price it accurately. Furthermore, it makes work measurable and increases the predictability of results. Fewer problems allow for a proactive business approach, minimising the need to fight fires, and focus on the important things like generating new business and growth.
4. Baseline for Continuous Improvement
Standard work facilitates continuous improvement by establishing a baseline of performance. If changes are required, they are easier to implement to a process which has already been evaluated. Opportunities for improvement or to eliminate waste can be easily visualised, making it quicker to adapt to external influences. Standardised work does not lead to inflexibility - just the opposite in fact. It is a structure to promote positive results and productivity, and provides a mechanism for integrating change.
5. Support Your Employees
Your employees are crucial to your day to day success. When tasks are clear and well defined, it reduces the time it takes to communicate your processes to your team. It gives them confidence to do their work, knowing that they always have clear instructions available. This is invaluable for successfully onboarding new members of staff, but also useful for long term employees too. Creating a transparent culture promotes individual responsibility and is an important part of strengthening employee accountability. Furthermore, it is possible to shift the blame for errors from the worker to the system, which is very positive for company culture.
Standardised work, a baseline for Continuous Improvement
Standardised work is established when the baseline is documented, and work is being carried out in a consistent, repeatable manner by anyone with the appropriate training. It's often considered fundamental to Continuous Improvement efforts, where processes are continually refined so that customer needs can be met in increasingly efficient ways.
Continuous improvement is most successful when the people who perform the task highlight and solve the problems that stop work from being carried out efficiently. How can a working culture be created where everyone is proactive and naturally motivated to solve problems? To nurture this behaviour, it’s important to think about mindset.