Product and pricing are no longer the only key drivers of purchase decisions. Since the rise of social media and consumer review sites, the role of customer service has become more crucial than ever when shaping buying decisions and brand reputations. Now that people can stay connected everywhere they go, it is more important than ever to provide customers with a just-in-time service experience.
What does ‘just-in-time’ mean?
Just-in-time (JIT) first appeared in the 70’s as a methodology for optimizing production chains in manufacturing. Toyota was one of the first pioneers of this approach, by using the Kanban scheduling system to ensure steady production and minimal disruptions.
Today’s economy is increasingly service-focused, with personal consumption expenditures for services now approaching 50%. Applied in the context of services, just-in-time refers to the ability to deliver services, such as customer support, in minimal time by being readily available through digital channels.
Compared to on-demand services, JIT provides an optimal blend of timeliness and efficiency when it comes to managing resources. By contrast, on-demand implies the 24/7 availability of services, which is hardly practical in the case of high-touch sectors like healthcare, finance, or legal, and would mean unnecessarily draining resources to staff all hours. In other words, JIT service helps ensure that businesses are maximumly available to customers without exhausting resources. For example, there is no reason why customers should not be able to manage things like appointments, view related content, and open support tickets outside of regular office hours.
As such, JIT can meet the digital expectations of anytime, anywhere access, but with a just-in-time delivery system for a better managed and more efficient business model. A successful digital strategy will avoid wasting resources, increase resilience, and ultimately, future-proof your business by continuously opening up new opportunities.
The role of instant gratification
When it comes to providing services, the greatest productivity gains come from the ability to minimize the number of steps customers have to take to achieve their goals. Whether that is booking an appointment, making a payment, opening a customer support ticket, or speaking directly to a representative, customers want to be able to do these things as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is a key goal of any digital transformation strategy as it concerns customer experience and service.
The philosophy behind JIT is to continuously improve processes, both from the perspective of customers and from employees. The integration of JIT themes and service characteristics into every mission-critical operation offers many advantages, such as:
Unlike products, services are intangible. This means customers rely on the reputations of the companies they do business with, as opposed to being able to see, feel, and test a physical product. Furthermore, since services are inherently less measurable, there is greater potential for influencing customers’ decisions and perceptions. Delivering a fast, efficient, consistent, and reliable service is critical to building that rapport.
At the same time, sales and marketing teams have many more opportunities to make an impact by reaching out to their customers at the right time, no matter where they are. For example, they may send their customers’ instant messages or notifications directly through the company’s mobile app, rather than sending to a cluttered email inbox.
How to integrate JIT themes into your services
Digital transformation is a journey of continuous improvement whereby the overarching goal is to leverage technology to minimize the number of steps required to complete an operation.
As the just-in-time service system and management strategy was developed to eliminate waste and meet demand as efficiently as possible, today’s digital frontier opens the possibilities to streamline even more precisely. Over digital, organizations can continuously manage persistent customer relationships without needing to synchronize time and place, therefore creating more and more business opportunities. A digital strategy that utilizes a just-in-time methodology combines tried-and-true effective management with customer-centric emphasis on convenient service delivery.