Is Fear of Costing You Money?

Do you wish you could improve service while reducing costs? Or reduce risk when making decisions? Benchmarking will help you do all that and more. So why are you not benchmarking today? It’s simple. Implementing a benchmarking program is overwhelming.

It starts with volumes of data, tons of theories, and the nagging thought that you need expert intervention. Next comes hours of filtering through the statistics before “why bother?” aborts the program. A few months or years later, someone will ask, “Do you have a benchmarking program?’ and you will respond with “we tried it, but it didn’t work.”

Let’s start with the “why bother?” question. Would you bother with a program that measures your service levels and improves customer satisfaction? We all know that satisfaction is important, but quantifying it seems impossible. Yet not only is it possible, unlike activities that require a stunt double, you can try this at home. In fact, it is better if you do. You can skip the consultant (did I just say that?), the high-end software, and the statistician. You are the one who lives with the results, so you should understand every aspect of your business. The beauty of benchmarking is that hidden treasures that appear in odd places. Outsiders may not recognize the significance, but you will.

When you have results, you may decide to hire a call center, outsource your fulfillment, or bring it all inhouse. You will be able to make these decisions because you will know the costs associated with these services and their effect on customer loyalty. If you decide to outsource, you will also be able to monitor performance and insure quality service.

Now, why are you not benchmarking? In Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural address he said, “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts…” Don’t let the fear of benchmarking paralyze the process. Choose one area that you want to improve, and start measuring and monitoring.

Debra Ellis is a principle at Barnardsville, NC-based operations consultancy Wilson & Ellis Consulting (

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