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Keeping Customers Satisfied: Lean Consumption

Customer Satisfaction is the key to retaining customers and to gaining new ones to grow your business. If you don’t keep your customers happy then how will you ever make your business a success? With a manufacturing company often the only interaction your customer has is with your goods; but if you are a service company then your customers have many more opportunities to find fault with what you are providing them. From answering the phone late to not knowing the answer to their query there is an almost infinite list of opportunities for something to go wrong with your customer interactions. Therefore it is vital that you understand how your customer service could fall short of customer expectations.In 2005, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones published an article in the Harvard Business Review describing a new theory called Lean Consumption based on Lean Production pioneered by Taiichi Ohno. Where Lean Production streamlines internal processes, Lean Consumption focuses on minimising the customers’ time and effort to use our services to drive improvement in customer interactions.The principles of Lean Consumption are:
1. Solve the customer’s problem completely by insuring that all the goods and services work, and work together.
2. Don’t waste the customer’s time.
3. Provide exactly what the customer wants.
4. Provide what’s wanted exactly where it’s wanted.
5. Provide what’s wanted where it’s wanted exactly when it’s wanted.
6. Continually aggregate solutions to reduce the customer’s time and hassle.

Therefore, to improve our services we should:

• Identify and improve activities that create and add value for the customer.
• Determine what processes are necessary to deliver that value.
• Cut down on activities that do not add value to the customer, i.e. eliminate wasted time and effort.
• Deliver products precisely when the customer requires them.
• Improve and streamline these processes continuously.

The seven Service Wastes:
Much has been written about the seven classic production wastes identified by Taiichi Ohno within the Toyota production system, but how do these relate to a service organization? What are the seven wastes from the perspective of our customers? If we look at the experience our customers have from their point of view we will better understand the service that we offer them and be able to make improvements.

Extracts from Womack & Jones, Lean Solutions 2005 & Wikipedia, Jan 2012

We will explore the seven service wastes in our next blog…

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