Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Immediately Impact Your Customers with LEAN

Immediate payoffs when companies decide to "go lean" are cash flow and capacity. Your cash isn't sitting on the floor waiting anymore (sleeping money) and you can do more with the same. A third benefit is that your customers get their stuff faster, because you have made some progress toward flow. Remember flow is the goal-that wonderful world where an order comes in the front door, and never stops moving, and everyone adds value to it, and then it goes out the back door, and then you get paid. After a year of doing lean, I found that most of the benefit was for US, and it seemed a smaller amount was our customer"s.

How easy (or hard) is it for your customer to place an order? How long does it take?  Do they call in and get placed on hold? Go into voicemail? Can they place an order and confidently know they will get what they need and when they will get it with one call?  Can they talk to the people who can help them without being passed around?  What about people that call in for technical advise? How long does it take for them to get the answers they need?

Remember that LEAN and the Toyota Production System is all about TIME. Not only your time, but most importantly, the time of your customers. In my company we measured our customers time. We measured how many times a customer went into voicemail, and figured out ways to prevent this. We also eliminated people going on hold waiting for employees who can answer their questions. (Customers were transferred directly to cell phones, not into the purgatory called "hold").

Don't make it hard for your customers to do business with you. Re-work your customer facing processes using A3 to make your company the fastest and easiest to play with. That is part of a perfectly good growth strategy-just ask Disney! Why do they spend weeks training street sweepers? So they can give customers directions, or tell them what time the restaurant in Frontierland closes

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