How to Leverage Six Sigma to Improve Customer Experience

For many years I have been a practitioner of both customer experience (CX) and Six Sigma, so I can personally speak to the unmatched advantages of bringing these two disciplines together. Independently, both Six Sigma and CX are powerhouses at driving business results, and when combined correctly, they provide a strong one-two punch for your organization. This strength is rooted in the complementary nature of the two. CX is very externally focused, all about understanding the customer’s needs, and identifying the moments-of-truth that drive loyalty. Conversely, Six Sigma is very internally focused, teaching proper scoping, requirement definition, problem solving, and performance measurement.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

At inContact, we define customer experience as the summation of a relationship that an organization or company has with an individual, with a focus on key emotional and rational elements. When CX is measured and managed, organizations are able to drive greater customer loyalty and increase profitability.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma provides the framework and associated tools for driving process improvement and reduction in defects. Originally evangelized in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, it became the playbook by which many successful companies ran their operations. The name and the model are firmed rooted in statistics, and based on the assumption that well designed processes that account for 99.99966% of all variance will yield operational excellence, low rework, and high profitability. There are two main methodologies, an entire toolkit of processes to use, and a hierarchy of experience in a belt system borrowed from martial arts. The gist – Six Sigma helps you run a better, more efficient business.

Because of their very nature, CX and Six Sigma offset each other’s weaknesses. This allows us to teach internal process refinement while understanding the effect on the customer. To drive out process waste and rework, while focusing on the key customer moments that matter. To improve our bottom line while improving the customer’s life. Six Sigma is the “how” that CX has been missing. Similarly, CX is a key “why” that often gets lost in the Six Sigma process design tools. To help you make this combination work, here are a few suggestions:

Just Go for It

Both Six Sigma and CX have many tools, processes, and organizations that make rules, publish points-of-view, and generally make things seem harder. Don’t be afraid to start – read a book, peruse an article, or get inspired by an entertaining blog post. However the inspiration happens, don’t believe you need to get certified in both before diving in!

Maintain Appropriate Balance

Many times CX and Six Sigma will agree, sometimes they will disagree, and other times you will need to figure out how to weave the concepts together. Don’t get pulled too far one way or the other. Only you know what’s right for your customers, so choose your tools, viewpoint, or success measures accordingly.

Get More Formal… When You Are Ready

There are great trainings and certifications provided for both areas. You can find these prescribed by Dr. Google. Choose wisely as not all providers are skilled in your industry or business.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

There are many right and wrong ways to run your business. CX and Six Sigma provide an incredible toolkit to solve many of your customer and internal issues. Choose the flavor that works for you.

By learning the basic principles of both methods, you can create a customized approach to running your business that focuses both on the customer and on your operations. This duality will help drive both your top-line and bottom-line by making your customers happy and your processes efficient.