Visual management is a tool as simple as incredible to engage your customers as well as your employees.
Increasing sales is the first objective that every company have in mind, it’s key to survival. How to boost them is a big question?
Sales are today more than ever, a matter of good communication. Facebook, twitter, youtube, Whatsapp, are all new ways of communicating with your customer. They are used to propose a “call for action”: to share your comments about a particular cloth, show your selfie eating in a particular restaurant, or simple to help you know where to buy something. They may help you attract your customer, but still you need to close the sale. What would happen if you promote a discount, your customer goes to the store, but he doesn’t know how to use the discount, or where to present it, and the employees don’t know either, he eventually leave the store with empty hands and frustrated, hating your business badly?
Well, I bet this already happened to you. But stop, it can be avoided! It’s just a matter of improving communication.
Visual management techniques are used to communicate information by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. The idea is that everyone can understand the message as quickly and easy as possible, in order to increase efficiency and clarity. These signals can be of many forms: lights, colors, signs, drawings, pictures, tables, you name it.
Visual management can improve customer service
They are widely used internally by Japanese companies such as Toyota, but is also widely used for improving customer experience, like a drive-thru: You know exactly where to enter with your car, what to do, and where to wait.
Amusement parks are usually great at visual management, the reason is quite obvious, most of their customers don’t even know how to read, so creativity and innovation is key. They use characters to help parents find their cars easily at the parking lot, or to measure the kid’s height for safety.
The same way you could use those techniques to help kids understand procedures at kindergartens, provide a better service to patients in a hospital or better guide clients in an accountant’s office. Even small business like a grocery or a pet shop can increase their communication to improve their customer’s experience and make them feel better served.
What about the internal customer?
We usually tend to think more about how to satisfy the customer, that is who is paying to buy our products, but what about our internal customers that is, our employees? Employees are the first contact with our external customers, so if we serve them well, they will serve your customers even better. You can use a visual metric display or team board (cork, whiteboard or led screen). Basically to increase communication on how people is doing on their work and how they are contributing to the organization’s purpose, and they are also a good way to communicate employees what you are doing to serve them. They can communicate new benefits as well as monthly results or training sessions. You can also use visual management technique to help them learn a new method or to understand a trend, like using drawings, colors, graphs or post its.
The workplace can be set-up with real-time dashboards, signs, labels, color-coded markings such that anyone unfamiliar with the process can, in a matter of minutes: know what is going on, understand the process, know what is being done correctly and what is out of place, no matter if you are new to the place. It also helps identify value and non- value added stuff by visualizing levels of inventory, type of documents or processes.
Visual Controls allow team leaders to SPEND MORE TIME on the factory floor HELPING and COACHING team members. Toyota leaders spend 90% of their time on factory floor vs GM leaders who only spend 52% of their time. The Toyota Way – Liker, McGraw Hill, (2004)
What kind of tools are recommended for good visual management?
- Labels and color schemes, for cloth sizes or food types
- Arrows on the floor, stairs or walls
- Check sheets
- Lights to show process status
- 5S, a methodology to organize the workplace in 5 steps that start with S using visual management (Sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain)
- Kanban cards (kanban means visual) which are used to replenish materials in a production process or to pace the follow of product in a manufacturing process, but are also used to order food in a restaurant or to replenish stock in a small grocery
- Infographics: they are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.They will soon be more popular than blogs, as people can understand a trend or a process in a glance.
- RACI chart is a visual means of displaying roles and responsibilities in a certain project. It is more detailed than an organizational chart because shows not only who is responsible, but also who is accountable, who needs to be consulted and who needs to be informed (or CC). It is a matrix that displays peoples or functions on one side, and activities on the other axis.
How to start
Start by building a communication plan for both internal and external customer. You can organize a training session with your team showcasing the different visual management techniques and their benefits, organize the ideas and proposals they think of in a brainstorming session and prepare a board with the action plan that is available for everyone to see every day. Then, just get ready to sell!
Helping your employees feeling more comfortable where they work will enhance the way they serve your customers, and serving your customer better will in the end boost your sales and reduce your costs!
How do you apply visual management to boost sales?