The “Toyota Way” as it is often referred to in the world of management is a set of principles supported by two main pillars – continuous improvement and respect for people. So, what can your business learn from a car manufacturing giant?
This is a blog for those interested in business so it will not come as a surprise to you that we will not be focussing on the engineering side of Toyota’s cars.
When looking at the management style at Toyota what is important to understand is the team are taught to never be satisfied with where they are. They are encouraged to continuously work to improve the business by putting forward new ideas.
Another area of their focus remains on communicating at all levels across the organisation. From the product development to marketing and from engineering to customer care is key to the success of the business.
This level of communication ensures that opportunities to improve processes are communicated across the business. Communication can be a cliché, but it is important if the team perspective is to be maintained.
What’s more the “Toyota Way” is to add value by developing your people. Toyota strives to grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others. A key understanding is that success is based on the team, not the individual.
Toyota’s managers are encouraged to go and see operations across the firm. Without experiencing the situation first hand, managers will not understand how it can be improved.
In summary, Toyota encourages best practice across all aspects of its operations, which translates to a more successful business.
Customer Centric Approach
At first glance, it’s often easy to dismiss a customer journey as being something very simple. You offer a product or service, and the customer buys it. What’s so complicated about that? However, the customer journey is often incredibly complex and needs to be understood.
How many of you have a visual representation of what your client or customer experiences from the point they contact you to the point they buy?
The shift to e-commerce has redefined customer expectations. Customers expect to be able to order almost anything online and have it delivered quickly to their front door. They also use multiple channels to communicate with businesses including email, phone, text, social media, in-person, etc.
As customers become more sophisticated, so too do their expectations, and the experience of buying from a certain company can almost be as important as the product or service itself.
It’s all about user experience. You need to clearly understand this to innovate.
To create a customer journey map, you will need to draw out all possible touchpoints including advertisements, website, social media, interaction with your sales team and so forth.
For example, a millennial may become aware of your product or service via social media, research it on your website, read some online independent user reviews and make a purchase online using their laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The map should also include details of the actions the customer needs to take at each stage of the journey.
Going through the mapping process also helps you to understand the customer experience first-hand and spot ways to make the customer journey easier, more enjoyable, or faster. In short, the better the customer experience the higher the chance of returning custom.
So how do you build a customer-centric business? First you need to start with your company culture. What is your culture?
Culture is best defined as “the way we do things around here.” You will have a culture, but it may not be defined clearly.
Having a customer centric culture means that you and all your people value the customer’s needs. You care for your customer or client, and you will look out for opportunities to make processes easier and more efficient for them.
It is also very important to have a positive team culture in the workplace. It’s not one or the other it’s both.
Design thinking in Business
The ability to innovate and evolve is the key to the survival of any business. The “design thinking” method can be used by your business to standardise the innovation process.
If you and your team think like a designer in your business, you can change your business. You will then have a business ready for tomorrow.
In thinking like a designer, you need to:
- Narrow down the problem (once you have the customer journey mapped).
- Once the problem is clarified, next step is to come with as many ideas as possible to address the problems.
- Next step will lead to developing the ideas into a workable solution. Use us as a sounding board.
- Implementation (the hardest bit) comes next, to bring around change.
How we can help
If you are a future thinker, you need a like minded partner to bounce ideas around with. We’ll provide impartial support and challenge your way of thinking when you need it.
Our culture at Myers Clark is underpinned by Our values . It’s the way we work with each other and the way we work with our clients.
The world of business is changing, and many small businesses are embracing the need to have a positive workplace culture. Here’s more on examples of good behaviours and culture from businesses in the UK
If you are interested you can read more on the Toyota Way and talk to your manager at Myers Clark if you want to have a fresh look at your customer or client journey.