Tuesday, March 14, 2017

LEAN Cell Phone

My iPhone
Lean, in it's very simplest terms, is a laser-like focus on your customer. My customer might be someone who needs someone to give their hard earned money to, or my customer might be someone I hand my work to, or my customer might be people who I'm responsible for developing, aka employees.

Lean is also about figuring out ways to delight, not satisfy those customers. We lean zealots understand that satisfying is just not good enough. Perfect quality? Expected. On-time delivery? A given. Fast answers to my questions?  Check. Remember the words of wise sage Chris Rock: "you don't get a cookie for doing #$%^ you're supposed to do!"

Which brings me to my cell phone. More and more, our customer's favorite way of contacting us is through a device that didn't really exist 25 years ago, the 2nd generation digital cellular phone. Tons of people I know are even deep sixing their "house phones". When people call me, a lean guy, they are expecting the absolute shortest cycle time possible between the time they dial me to the time they get their question answered.

After you take your phone out of it's box, it comes with what I call a "6 feet under" pre-recorded voice mail prompt, that goes something like this "Verizon customer (Bill) is not available. Please leave a message after the tone (beeeep)." I call this the 6 feet under message because you can literally have this in your pocket after your funeral, and your customer wouldn't know the difference.

So being a bit more advanced, I recorded my own version of the 6 feet under message. "Hi this is Bill, sorry I missed your call, please leave a message and I'll call you back as soon as possible." The message tells your customer that whatever you happen to be doing is more important right now than their pesky problem/question/crisis.

Then it hit me. If you think you're so lean, why not reflect you're intention of delighting your customer with a really lean message?  It goes like this: "Hi, this is Bill Greider, today is Tuesday, March 14th, I'm sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message and I'll call you back within one hour." OK, now I've created what we lean professionals call a "JIT condition".  It's really interesting how that message increases my sense of urgency to check my phone even when I'm on someone's plant floor, or teaching a class, or in my garden or fixing my sink or giving my dog a bath. My goal is also to always pick up my customers before the 4th ring so my customer doesn't have to wait at all.

It also forces me to change my message every single day, and occasionally it forces me to apologize to my customer when I miss the hour. Don't forget one of the definitions of "respect for people" is "to not trouble your customer and do not make them wait!"


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