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Customer Service, Lean, Viewpoint!

Lean: forget the Customer?

Back in June I wrote “too many Lean implementations that I’ve come across (particularly in the public sector) have forgotten that it’s people who deliver services and if their attitude or skills are poor, no amount of lean processes will make a difference to customer satisfaction”.


I was reminded of that by an article in a national newspaper describing the experience of somebody who had recently lost their job and who visited their local Jobcentre Plus. This person’s perception was that it was all about the process and completely lost sight of the customer. Their experience focussed on form-filling and box-ticking, with virtually no time devoted to how they might help him to find a new job. An organisation might have what they think are the “leanest” processes in the world but, at the end of the day, what’s important is customers, the value and service they receive and how they feel about that service.


With the current pressure on public sector finance I suspect there will be many more public sector organisations jumping on the Lean Bandwagon who forget about the needs of their service users, while they rush to adopt Lean and (supposedly) improve efficiency.

Remember the Lean Principles:

  1. Specify value from the perspective of customer 
  2. Map the value stream and eliminate any steps that add no value for the customer 
  3. Create flow so the product moves smoothly towards the customer 
  4. Establish “pull” so that customers pull value from the next upstream activity 
  5. Seek perfection through continuous improvement

Notice how many times the word “Customer” appears!


You might also be interested to read:

Lean Sigma: Bandwagon or Value Add?

Kaizen Bitz: Doomed to fail?


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