When executed correctly, benchmarking can be a powerful impetus to change, driving home sometimes uncomfortable facts and convincing leaders of the need to embark on improvement efforts. Benchmarking is a tool that enables the investigation and ultimately the achievement of excellence, based on the realities of the larger business environment rather than on internal standards and historical trends.
There are many good reasons for organizations to benchmark. First, doing so can help them to stay in business by enabling them to outperform similar organizations, including competitors. Second, it ensures that the organization is continually striving to improve its performance through learning. Benchmarking opens minds to ideas from new sources, both within the same industry and in unrelated sectors.
Before you begin your benchmarking exercise, here’s what to look for:
- Comparable set of peers to benchmark against – that often means size, geography, business and other characteristics.
- Combination of quantitative and qualitative surveys. A quantitative survey delivers hard data to compare, and a qualitative survey provides background information context, and best practices.
- Right level of detail. The best benchmarks are neither too general, nor overly detailed. For example, you can’t just compare entire contact centres of different banks, you need to delve deeper into each business / queue to ensure that you compare apples to apples.
At the Burnie Group we benchmark different sets of businesses such as Everyday Banking, Credit Cards, Credit / Lending, Direct Investments, Savings, Wealth Management, Small Business Banking, Business Banking, and Insurance across various channels: Phone, IVR, Online, Mobile, Chat, SMS and other channels.
So what are 3 steps for Better Benchmarking?
1. Benchmarking is not a stand-alone activity
To succeed, benchmarking must be part of the journey of continuous improvement. What value is there in knowing where you stand, if there’s no follow through to better your processes and output? In the pursuit of Operational Excellence—optimizing people, process, and product— you first require the holistic adoption of a change management strategy. Focusing on the customers’ needs, keeping the employees positive and empowered, and continually improving the current activities in the workplace is the ultimate goal of the operations journey, and benchmarking is an integral part of that voyage.
2. Benchmarking is not just competitive analysis.
It goes much further than a simple examination of the pricing and features of competitors’ products or services; it considers not only the output, but also the process by which the output is obtained. And benchmarking is much more than market research, because it considers the business practices that enable the satisfaction of customer needs and thus helps the organization to realize superior business performance. Many definitions of benchmarking exist, each offering slight variations on common themes. Benchmarking is a systematic and continuous process that enables organizations to identify world-class performance and measure themselves against that.
3. Benchmarking isn’t a “one-and-done” activity
Benchmarking is not a static one-time exercise, it is ongoing. By regularly studying and comparing your benchmarks to your competition, the industry, and within the individual processes of your company, you allow them to evolve to meet changing demands and requirements. By keeping your benchmarks fluid, you ensure that your business is following best practices, resulting in increase in productivity and profits.