Amazon has different prices for different delivery speeds, The faster you get it, the more it costs you. Federal Express charges $12 to send a letter.....over night. People have no problem paying more for FAST. It happens every day, millions of transactions.
It used to be we only had to be faster than our competitors. Unfortunately, now your list of competitors has changed. You no longer compete against other companies who do what you do. Now your competition is the best companies in the world (who your customers deal with every day). We'd better start thinking of Amazon and FedEx as our competition because our customers are being spoiled by them.
It is well know that LEAN is about getting your customer exactly what they need, in the exact quantity the want it, and exactly WHEN they want it. This goes for products and services. LEAN is a focus on time management, where all of the non-valued work (8 wastes) is systematically taken out of processes, and the only thing left is VALUE (determined by your customer).
What if you focused your organization on not making your customer wait. EVER. How market disruptive would that be? How hard would that be for your competition to deal with? We can all agree that people see FAST as value added (vs. having to be cheap). FAST is innovative (vs. a just being a commodity, one of many).
Here are a few opportunities for some really cool customer-facing kaizen (or A3):
(1). Your customer calls in to place an order. How often do they go on hold? How often do they go into voicemail? How many times do they get transferred? How often do they need to call back?
(2). Your customer needs a quote or a sample. What is the average amount of time to get them what they need so they can make a decision so they can give you some of their money? How often do they have to follow up because they haven't heard back?
(3) Your customer needs an answer to a technical question. Can he or she get that answer when they need it? 3 o'clock in the morning? Sunday afternoon? Do they have to play the game of telephone...they tell their salesperson, he tells the tech department, the question goes into an inbox? How fast do you respond to e-mails? How fast do people call your customer back?
(4) What does the process look like when your customer has a complaint? How often do you feel the deja vu of answering the same complaint over and over? (NOTE: Use your A3 teams to address customer complaints!!)
(5) Your customer wants to return something. Sometimes this could be the most comical of all. How many hoops do they need to jump through? How long do they have to wait for the final verdict? How many forms do they have to fill out?
How long (on average) do these processes take now? Just the act of measuring them will improve them! Once you start measuring them, start applying lean thinking to them.
We all love to talk about how important our customers are, do we treat them like royalty? Or do we make the king wait?
"If you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't do."