What are the three most popular customer service complaints you get? Behind each of those complaints is a system in your operations that's either broken, or was never created in the first place. Fixing those underlying systems is the key to turning complaints (which people tell their friends about) to rave reviews (which people tell their friends about).
Cut and paste this email, customize it as needed, and send to the people on your team that need to be involved. Below the email you'll find a helpful guide for working through the process.
Here's The Email
As you know, one of the biggest complaints we get from customers is [ insert complaint here ]. This week we're going to fix that.
Today we're going to have the first of five meetings where we will fully diagnose the problem, work together to innovate an improvement to our current process, and establish metrics for tracking our results. I need everyone to do two things at these meetings. First, come prepared to share with the team what you know without sugar-coating it. Second, risk sharing with us your ideas. The goal of each meeting will be to answer one question, and one question only:
Monday: How do we do it today?
Tuesday: Why do we do it that way?
Wednesday: How would we do it if we could start over?
Thursday: How will we track whether the new way is working?
Friday: What do we need to make it happen?
We're doing this in a week so we can all focus in on it, but also because it's just not okay that our customers are having this experience for even one more day. Please do whatever you need to do to make sure you have no other interruptions during these meetings.
[ Your Signature ]
Here's The Meeting Guide
How do we do it today?
It's critical to begin with what's true right now. You don't want to innovate and leave behind what actually is working. And you don't want to miss what's not. Get connected with how it works first; or at least, connected with an employee who is. The best innovations often come from building on the present - not reinventing it.
Why do we do it that way?
One step deeper than how it's done today is why it's done that way. Are any of the original reasons still valid? Don't add a system that actually reverses progress. Not asking this question will also alienate the employees who use the current system, and maybe helped build it. Asking the right questions here will give you a plumb line down to the underlying dysfunction in your business - finding that is the ultimate goal and key to unlocking sustainable growth.
How would we do it if we could start over?
Ask your people to dream, to do blue-sky thinking, and take ownership of the process. Have them start with the dream and work their way back to the present constraints. You may already have an idea, maybe even a good one, but truly delegating the system design and build is critical to cultivating employee ownership. They may arrive on their own at the same idea you have, or perhaps have a better one, but either way the process will make your company better.
How will we track whether the new way is working?
Quantification is where the rubber meets the road with any innovation - does it actually work? You're looking to cultivate more managers to deliver on that entrepreneurial spirit, so it's not enough for people to come up with ideas. That's the fun and exciting part, the harder part for most people is the ongoing management and iteration.
What do we need to make it happen?
You want your team coming to you with the best ideas and not the other way around. They're the closest to the problem and will be the ones using whatever gets built. What do they need from you to get there? Your time? A new tool? Permission? More authority? It's not easy to ask the boss for something - you can support innovation by asking them what they need. You'll be surprised what this simple question can unlock.
Ask your people to dream, to do blue-sky thinking, and take ownership of the process.