Using Six Sigma to Improve Customer Experience and Service


Share on LinkedIn

Imagine if you only had 3.4 bad customer experiences per million customer service interactions. The goal of Six Sigma in experience is to get you there.

Six Sigma is a quality management theory that gives businesses the blueprint to improve processes and decrease ineffective practices that contribute to bad customer service.

Using Six Sigma to End Bad Customer Service

If there’s one question I’m asked constantly it’s “how can I stop bad customer service?” My answer is to look to six sigma as a blueprint to eliminating factors that create a bad customer experience.

Six Sigma Customer ServiceThe Six Sigma model is a highly disciplined approach that can help companies to focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.

Six Sigma for customer service includes identifying factors which are critical for the quality of the service required customers. Focus is placed on improving efficiencies, capabilities, and stability of service and the customer service system to support six sigma.

The higher your sigma rating, the closer to process, product, or service perfection. One sigma is just starting; six sigma is reaching only 3.4 defects per million units processed or serviced. The key to six sigma is identifying and measuring defects in order to re-work processes to eliminate them.

Five Steps to Use Six Sigma in Customer Service

The five steps of six sigma apply in customer service just as it does in production.

1. Define Customer Service

In the first sigma we determine what the problem is and what we want to achieve.

In order to fix the problem, you have to understand the problem. Can you clearly describe the problem that takes place? Can you define it? What is happening? Why is it happening? The first step to six sigma is to clarify and understand the customer service problem. Once this is done, we’re ready to move one towards fixing the problem.

2. Measure Customer Service

In the second sigma we measure the data and effect of problems taking place.

Once we understand what is going on, we can outline variables and details associated with our problem we’re attempting to resolve. Seek out every piece of evidence associated with our customer service actions so that we can accurately plan to perfect the service offering.

3. Analyze Customer Service

The third sigma is where analysis of root causes takes place.

Once we’ve identified the problem, measured the effect and outlined the details of the problem, we can analyze the action taking place and what contributes to problems. Under what circumstances does the problem arise? What are the root causes that bring about problems? Are there certain groups or people typically associated with the problem? Is it related to one specific action? Is it limited to any particular segment of our business or offering? In short, where and when exactly is the failure taking place?

4. Improve Customer Service

In the fourth sigma we finally address the typical solutions.

What are the steps commonly taken to resolve the problem? What recommendations can be make to keep the problem from happening? What changes need to be made to our process to apply these recommendations? Who is the final decision maker of these process changes? Who is going to institute change? How is the change going to be communicated?

5. Control Customer Service

Finally, the fifth sigma is where we create the controls to keep the correct process going.

In order to maintain efficiency and productivity in our service offering we must maintain correct process. Controls need to be created to ensure that quality work is being performed and that triggers are in place to prevent defects. In service, a trigger could be maintaining employee morale. Ensuring adequate breaks, autonomy of work, optimal equipment, or anything that will contribute to the sustained near-perfect performance from those who participate in the system.

6. Perfect Customer Service

The sixth sigma is the pinacle of service. It’s where we offer exceptional service at near perfection levels, only 3.4 poor experiences per 1 million customer service interactions.

Six Sigma in Customer Service

Can you imagine the level of goodwill with customers if all organizations operated at this level? Imagine the customer loyalty rates if an exceptional customer experience took place 99.999% of the time customer service was required.

Six Sigma can be an effective quality management blueprint to improve experience and decrease ineffective practices leading to bad customer service.

Following Six Sigma in customer service can increase profits, improve customer service employee engagement, and increase the quality of the customer experience creating customer loyalty.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Flavio Martins
Flavio Martins is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise authentication services and high-assurance SSL certificates trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations. Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage win customer loyalty. Blog: Win the Customer!


  1. We are dealing with customers not machine tools. Most customers are entirely if not wholly satisfied with their experience, the idea of obsessing on fix not only misses the opportunity to connect and add value (customer as the source of value), but it is also a dangerous waste of money as business spend money on systems to measure and monitor minor effects that have little worth. Even worse, engineers myopically refuse to enable value creation by scanning the environment; enforcing a view of the customer as chained down and controlled. And I haven’t even got to the employee experience.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here