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Why just-in-time models are the future of client service delivery

The just-in-time strategy was developed to eliminate waste and meet demand as efficiently as possible.

Why just-in-time models are the future of client service delivery
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Clients expect more convenience than ever before from service providers—but the resources and infrastructure required to offer 24/7 support are costly. To deliver the white-glove experience clients expect without breaking the bank, providers should consider migrating from an “on-demand” support philosophy to a “just-in-time” one.

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The just-in-time (JIT) model involves streamlining business processes via digital capabilities to deliver services right at the time they’re needed, efficiently, and without exhausting resources. JIT—paired with the right technology—can prevent service providers from wasting staff time and budget, while also helping improve client satisfaction, internal processes, and their bottom line.

JUST-IN-TIME AND INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Just-in-time (JIT) may be new to high-touch services, but it has roots in inventory management and production strategy—where it’s still used today. The idea is for a product to arrive as close to the time it’s needed as possible, reducing waste and resources. A grocery store receiving a restock of kale as the last pallet is emptied is an easy way to think of this concept.

The JIT model originally appeared in the 1970s as a method for optimizing production chains in manufacturing. Toyota was one of the first pioneers of this approach, using the tactic to ensure its production of cars matched customer demand. Toyota operated with low inventory levels, relying on its supply chain to deliver the parts and raw materials “just in time” to be added to cars in production.

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The just-in-time method can apply in almost any supply-and-demand situation, helping companies in many industries minimize their expenses and maximize their profits.

The just-in-time model uses data to inform when restocks and reorders need to happen, minimizing the likelihood of being saddled with unused goods and few places to store them.

JUST-IN-TIME SERVICE DELIVERY

A digital just-in-time service model can be a win-win for your business and your clients. It has the same premise as a JIT inventory strategy: reduce waste and maximize efficiency. Instead of providing 24/7 on-demand access to your team, clients can access services right when they’re needed through digital channels like a one-stop mobile app or web portal.

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For example, hold times to speak to an airline customer rep have been astronomical lately. With a just-in-time service model, customers could use a digital portal to submit a help request or schedule a callback appointment—and the airline can deploy resources during business hours to follow up with the customer or even resolve the issue on the back-end.

A just-in-time model can also be helpful to high-touch service industries—like real estate, financial services or legal services. Another example of the JIT model in action is the homebuying process. Homebuyers can reach out to their agent via a digital chat, where all communication can be kept in one continuous thread. The realtor can use their digital portal to handle communication and account management for the numerous buyers, sellers, and colleagues they work with.

Other examples of services that could be delivered with a just-in-time model include allowing clients to schedule appointments, view related content and make payments. In the end, the JIT model can be a win-win situation. The customer can reach out when it’s convenient, without waiting on hold or following up multiple times. And the business doesn’t need to expend resources to be available 24/7.

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Clients aren’t only open to digital interactions, there’s reason to believe many prefer them. In a survey of 1,000 consumers delivered by the company where I serve as a chief brand office, consumers showed this preference. Almost half (49%) of consumer respondents said a mobile app was the most important feature when engaging with a service provider and 51% prefer to interact with the service digitally as much as possible and only in-person when necessary.

HOW THE MODEL CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS

The benefits of a just-in-time service model primarily fall within two categories: improved client experience and business efficiency.

On the customer side, clients can engage with your company easily whenever it’s convenient for them. Convenience doesn’t just drive client satisfaction, it’s also a key decision-making factor when choosing service providers. 27% of consumers from the same survey report convenience as their primary reason for choosing and remaining loyal to certain service providers. This ranks almost as important as great customer service (28%).

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Increasing digital capabilities also yields better data that can help your team improve the client experience and mitigate customer churn. By knowing common queries, you can improve your FAQ page or by understanding the responses that best resolve client questions, you can better equip your service team. It also allows you to deliver more personalized service to clients by maintaining a historical record of interactions.

On the business side, the digital JIT strategy streamlines client processes for better, more efficient account management. You’ll always know which client accounts are open and can assign them out effectively to the appropriate representative. For high-touch services that work with many clients frequently, it helps employees easily stay on top of communication, paperwork, and customer information. These operational efficiencies help the business maintain a larger client base, while helping keep costs low.

Finally, your resources are there when needed—no more, no less. A just-in-time service model allows your team to deliver cost-effective service without increasing headcount. Smaller queries, like making appointments or payments, can be taken care of by your digital system which frees up your staff to focus on more significant customer issues. It also helps reduce your carbon footprint by enabling a geographically dispersed workforce that doesn’t need to be in a physical location 24/7.

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STREAMLINED MANAGEMENT

The just-in-time strategy was developed to eliminate waste and meet demand as efficiently as possible. Though its origins date back to 1970s manufacturing, the digital JIT model has a lot to offer to client service providers. When paired with the right technology, a just-in-time approach meets clients’ expectations for convenience while preserving a service providers’ resources. And considering consumers’ positive attitudes toward digital experiences, this work can’t wait.


Leena Iyar is the Chief Brand Officer at Moxtra where she leads marketing strategy, brand awareness, growth, and client communications.

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