Lean Six Sigma

Lean Wednesday Tip: Customer Focused Process Improvement

 

“Effective Lean organizations study their processes from their customer’s point of view and align their processes to meet their customers’ needs the first time and every time.” – Donna Summers

On-boarding Employees: Where are the supplies?

 Onboarding a new hire is stressful enough. Paperwork needs to be done, work area needs to be set up, et cetera. But no one remembers about supplies. Utilizing Lean Six Sigma methods and tools like 5S, visual management and Kanban to remove office waste is a great way to have a supplies inventory system that ensures all employees know where each item is kept and are aware of what is considered to be low inventory. This will ensure an order is placed in a timely manner to avoid any impairment in daily business operations or having to run out to your local supplies store and grossly over-pay.

When all supplies are cataloged, organized, labeled, tracked in Excel and this information is readily available to employees; waste is reduced in terms of time looking for supplies, productivity time wasted and money wasted. Ensuring employees know where all supply items are kept will significantly reduce time and productivity wastes. They should also be aware of what is considered to be low inventory (Zero is not acceptable) because this will allow immediate and timely replenishment.

For example, you would start by creating an inventory tracking Excel sheet like the one below (you can personalize it as you wish). You can set it up in Google Sheets and share with your team. You can encourage employees to make notes on whether items should be made more accessible to them (move printer closer to marketing team, et cetera) or add additional items to the list that will help them enhance their productivity.

In short, those that prepare and organize their office supplies inventory systems effectively reduce the most critical waste which is time and then of course, money.

The Customers that HATE you bring in the most valuable insights

 When utilizing the Voice of the Customer to glean insights don’t just target the customers that love you. When you take the time to really listen to the customers that hate you and turn their pains into solutions that is when you actually drive growth for your company.

Why target customers that hate you, you may ask? They have valuable insights on how your product or service can improve and can inspire you to create solutions that are currently not offered in the industry (first to market opportunities).

cust-service1Companies that are customer focused stay on top of customer pains and actually listen to them. They take more meetings with customers and work to turn client requirements into products, services or solutions.

The questions are:

Why do you hate us and what can we do to change that?

What are we doing wrong?

What are your pains?

When you acquire the answers to these questions then you can brainstorm ideas for products, services or solutions that will solve these pains. As a customer focused company you can’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. By turning customers who hate you into customers that love you will not only increase your client base and revenue but also make your competitors run for their money.

Top 7 Tips for a Sustainable Supply Chain

sustainability

Sustainable Supply Chain

1) Encourage suppliers and clients to re-use containers/boxes

2) Decrease lot sizes

3) Actively share demand forecast and inventory data with suppliers to ensure efficient purchasing and timely inventory replenishment

4) Develop a quality plan and actively (Quarterly checks) ensure supplier is meeting quality requirements by conducting an on-site visit

5) Use total cost method and mutually beneficial long term contracts to build strong partnerships with vendors

6) Integrate a customer service chat feature on your website

7)Utilize electronic billing

Talent Management: The Evergreen Learning Culture

 Great employees want to be challenged and learn new things. To increase employee retention and overall workplace satisfaction rates Human Resources must stay abreast of individual skills, learning capabilities, and industry skill trends. training

They should also encourage Managers/Supervisors to offer opportunities​ that allow employees to further enhance their skills, learn valuable new skills, or pursue interests. In house educational programs and ability to attend related conferences and workshops are a great way to build employee confidence and skills. Human Resources should also check in quarterly with employees to see how they are doing and gain insights into their goals, concerns, workplace bottlenecks, et cetera. This information can be used to match critical variables with other employee data for the purpose of optimizing your Talent Management processes.

By utilizing the Voice of the Employee, Human Resources and Managers should collaborate in surveying and sharing employee information for the purpose of creating in-house educational programs that will enhance employee skills.

Employers that encourage an evergreen learning culture reap the following benefits:

  • Increased overall employee satisfaction
  • See improved productivity
  • Reduced process cycle times
  • Improved client satisfaction
  • Greater profits

By actively integrating learning opportunities at the workplace employers will not only enhance employee productivity but also yield greater profits. It pays to invest in your employees!

 

Client Retention as part of the Collections Process

 Departmental collaboration is greatly important in the Collections/Billing department. Customer_LoyaltyThis team must have access to project /product status, project/product delivery and results; this will allow the Lead person handling the over-due account to develop an understanding of the situation, survey the client to ensure requirements were met and if they were not met deliver this information to the production team. In other words, the Collections Team can be an extension to the sales, marketing, production teams by acquiring additional Voice of the Customer data.

For example, it may be that the Project Manager is not effectively translation the client’s requirements into product/service specifications. This will prompt the need to test and implement process controls that ensure product/service specifications meet client requirements.

By utilizing payment plans, longer payment terms (Net 30-90), broader payment options (checks, credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, et cetera), engaging in daily communication and understanding of the client’s needs and situation can ensure an enduring relationship and stronger cash flow.