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You are in a service industry, providing a service directly or indirectly to a customer; having a field service organization providing after-sales support; providing customer service to an internal or external customer; providing a service function within a traditionally manufacturing envi­ronment. There are some common threads to these stories. The most obvious is customer service! Ask yourself these questions:

1.        Is the customer important? If the answer is yes, go to question 2. If the answer is no, go out of business!

2.        Why is the customer important? The answer had better be that it is the customer who decides whether or not to use your product or service, to recommend or criticize it to friends and colleagues, who ultimately pays the bills that provide your organization's income!

3.        How do I show my customers that they are important so that they continue to do business with me? The answer is the same for a service industry (airline, hotel, fast food restaurant, insurance agency), field service organization (computers, copiers, cars), people who provide a service in any environment (human resources, accounting, inventory management) as it is for manufacturing.



After we have defined who the customer will be and the service event and experience we are trying to create, we can examine the capability to deliver these experience through the "customer bill of service." The customer bill of service is composed of six major categories of capa­bility, which we will examine in more detail in this section. The six components of the customer bill of service:

      business alignment

      service culture

      operational process



      tools and technology.

Business Alignment

A service does not exist autonomously. As with any business activity, the service must contribute to the organization's ability to achieve its stated goals. The organization's mission, vision, goals, and structure must be established and clearly and effectively communicated so that they contribute to the business at the level where the service is being performed.

The service function also sits within an environment that the orga­nization has established to deliver the service. Consider, for example, the service location: does the location contribute to the organization's view of itself and its vision for customer service? Is the location safe, clean, and comfortable? Have all the factors associated with the cus­tomer experience been considered? Is the physical location or virtual service location accessible? Have ergonomic design factors been con­sidered, as well as other amenities associated with the service?

Questions to ask and items to look for:

      Is there an established vision and mission of organization and is it communicated effectively to all employees?

      Are there published goals and objectives, at both the company level and a detailed location level?

      Are business and/or operations plans established and communicated?

      How well is the relationship of the service to the core business understood?

      What kind of management reporting is in place? Are the reports consistent with the plans and mission?

      What kind of staffing methodology and budgets exist? Are they consistent with goals and objectives?

      Does the organization communicate its mission and vision to all levels of the organization?

      Does it translate key elements into understandable actions, rules and guidelines to customer facing staff and support staff?

Service Culture

The organization's culture must recognize, value, and support the ef­fort to provide customers with effective and efficient support. Service must be valued at the most senior levels of management, and their support be visible throughout the organization. Most tangible in the demonstration of this service culture is the use and response to perfor­mance measurements. Are there service measures throughout the orga­nization? Do measurements apply at various levels of the organiza­tion, and get summarized at higher aggregation of level?

For example, Federal Express uses a combination of specific ser­vice metrics to track and develop a daily customer service index that summarizes the total customer experience for each day based on num­ber factors, including percentage of on-time deliveries and number of late or lost packages.

Some organizations codify the level of response in the form of ser­vice level agreements. Initially used for internal operations supporting each other, more and more companies are using service level agree­ments (SLAs) to document the expectations the service provider should provide to the customer. These are used so the customer will know what is reasonable to expect, and to make sure the service provider will respond appropriately, with the right priority.

Categories that document the service culture include these:

      Do service level agreements exist for major processes and customers, both internal and external?

      Are formal customer satisfaction measurements taken and reported? Are there companywide measurement and benchmarks?

     Do customer satisfaction measurements result in specific action plans or other formal responses to customer?

     To what extent are there formal reward and recognition systems in place? Are there individual and team-based methods of reward and recognition?

     Are there general employee attitude and atmosphere surveys? Are they monitored on a regular basis? Does senior management recognize and articulate the value of the service culture?

     Does the company measure of the level of informal support? Are
there feedback processes from all parts of the organization to en­
sure customer service and support?

By measuring service and performance consistently and accurately, it is possible to ensure that the desired level of service is being deliv­ered, and to highlight inconsistencies before they become big prob­lems. Remember the old saw: "you get what you inspect."

One major electric power company used to measure response time to customer-reported problems. The time factor was measured from the time of reported incident, until there was a company employee physi­cally on site. Unfortunately that measurement was inconsistent with customer expectations. The measurement the customer wanted was when the problem was actually fixed. There was often a long delay between arrival of an employee on site and problem resolution, until the company realized the real measure of customer expectation.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 11

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