Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lean Sigma In A Service Environment

Over the past few months I have been able to observe first hand how a solid Lean Sigma program could benefit companies in the service industry.  Following are two examples.


In the first case, during a kitchen remodel in our home, the cabinet shop incorrectly measured the opening for the beverage cooler.  Unfortunately, this was not discovered until after the granite countertops had been installed. The beverage cooler was too large for the opening. The vendor was faced with several options. They could remove the granite countertop to increase the size of the opening or they could replace the beverage cooler with a unit that would fit the existing opening. They decided that replacing the beverage cooler with a new unit was the least risky and costly option available to them.  They also ordered the wrong size pantry pull out drawers on 3 separate occasions. 


This vendor eroded their entire profit margin in repeated installation trips to our home and replacing the beverage cooler at their cost, not to mention creating a dissatisfied client, due to their lack of quality and efficiency.


When the service manager was confronted with this reality, he simply dismissed the concerns by saying “some jobs go this way.”  However, according to the installer, the issue is not limited to “some” jobs.  Rather this is the norm and the majority go this way. 


Conducting a simple 5 Whys exercise involving the sales, installation, and warehouse teams would identify the root cause of many of these breakdowns.  They could then follow up with Kaizen(s) including the same sales, installation, and warehouse teams to identify the optimal process and transform this process into a standard work document.


In the second situation, I had the misfortune of cracking my windshield to the point it needed to be replaced.  After entering my policy number into my insurance company’s phone system “in order to service me better”, I had the privilege of repeating this number and many other bits of information every time the agent changed screens in their computer system.  I provided my home address, contact numbers, etc….  at least twice and in some cases 3 times during the course of a single call.


The waste the company incurred was nothing short of incredible. By my estimate no more than 40% of the call was value added, the remaining 60% was non-valued waste.


Both of these companies could remove untold amounts of non-value add waste by simply implementing a lean enterprise program.  Lean is not only for manufacturing anymore.


Post Author: Royce Williard


Copyright 2009 The Williard Group

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. After reading your earlier article I have gotten a book about Kaizen from the library. We are in the process of trying to improve our checkin procedures at my branch. I think the information I have gotten from you will be very helpful.