force the “WOW” values in everyday work life. We have included the con- cept of our “WOW” values in our on- boarding program, served up by one of our “WOW” ambassadors. On top of all that, we have “WOW” rewards and recognition, and the core values are used in our performance reviews,” said Coombs. Coupling this cultural transition to shared values with the continuing work of the “WOW” specialist touch- point teams, Ideal is reaping the rewards on both macro and micro lev- els. Micro results have been achieved in almost every branch and depart- ment because “we want to empower all our associates to go above and beyond expectations,” Coombs said. For example, now when counter sales- people are stumped by requests for products, they grab the recently devel- oped list of associates who are famil- iar with specialty/industry-specific products and call them for sugges- tions about sources.
Branch-Level Improvement Coombs described another new con- tinuous improvement program aimed at elevating customer service with regard to the touchpoint inventory fulfillment: “Branch at a Glance,” a program that Coombs’s department developed in collaboration with the IT department: “The goal is to improve branch-level inventory accuracy,” she said. “Chris Rozema, RF technologist, goes to the branches and trains ware- house staff on the correct use of the RF tools available to them. We have data showing the status before and after his visits.” Those statistics document im- provements on every metric tracked. For example, at one branch, the num- ber of incorrectly stocked items drop- ped by 50%. At another branch, incor- rectly stocked items were practically eliminated after the metric was re- duced by 98%. At both branches, au- dits are more accurate and customer service has been further elevated.
“Micro” improvements such as these are occurring throughout Ideal. Together with ongoing sales training and “WOW” ambassadors’ daily rein- forcement, the cumulative, ubiquitous micro improvements are generating “WOW”-caliber macro gains, as a very happy Coombs reported: “Our market share continues to grow at exponen- tial rates.” ; Niehaus, LEED GA, is an instructional designer and writer and the president and founder of Communication by Design ( communicationbydesign.net). Reach her at Jan@CommunicationByDesign.net.
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