Lean Culture in the Service Industry

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Lean Culture Svc Industry

Being the fastest source with the best quality and the most competitive price isn’t enough to move you to the top of your competition as numerous former businesses can attest.

Nearly all service industries tend to share a common pain—effectively marketing and selling in a competitive marketplace. How can you apply Lean ideas to these situations? There is waste in not knowing exactly what your customers need and what they are willing to pay for; this disconnect will have you wasting resources on products, services or improvements in which your customer sees no value. Likewise, you’ll also be missing an opportunity to spend your resources on products and services that your customers do want.

It’s time to start thinking about customer intimacy and how to achieve this state. Being the fastest source with the best quality and the most competitive price isn’t enough to move you to the top of your competition as numerous former businesses can attest. Instead, you’ll need to focus on aligning your organization’s outside perception with its inside reality.

Outside perception: this is a term encompassing all the things your current and prospective customers believe to be true about you. Perceptions are built over time, and like first impressions, can be difficult to change. The perceptions are typically built based on the written and verbal communications with your customers and prospects; that includes your online presence, product brochures and customer service interactions. Once you understand your organization’s outside perception, you can begin to look at ways to improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts by asking and answering a series of in-depth questions.

How do your customers choose which products and services they buy? Your marketing team must develop a solid understanding of your customer constituency by collecting and analyzing customer data. You can use surveys, competitive analysis or even a designed experiment to understand which factors are in play.

Next, where are your customers on the educational continuum? Imagine that the far left of your continuum represents those customers who do not have a perceived need for your product. Unless you can foster the benefits of ownership in this group in a very compelling way, your sales and marketing efforts will likely be wasted here. Moving toward the right end of the continuum, the next group encountered is beginning to think about your product, and may be considering their needs. This group will benefit most from information about your products and services. It’s not enough to just get the attention of members of this group, you’ll have to engage their minds in a very meaningful way.

To the right of center on your continuum exists your potential buyers who are actively searching for a solution to an identified need; these individuals and organizations may not be ready to commit so your message should be tailored to be as informative as possible. Finally, at the far right end of the continuum are those customers who are ready to make a purchasing decision. These customers are receiving all the marketing focus, but if you haven’t been building your business case all along, you’ll be too late to capture their attention.

Now it’s time to look at how you can introduce Lean strategies to foster the right culture in your organization. Review your client demographic, investigate potential waste and evaluate your communication methods and messages. Where can you implement Lean strategies to capture the potential customers you may have otherwise lost? Soon you will realize that “Lean” is more than just a strategy, it’s a culture you need to foster within your service organization.


Additional Reading

How to Achieve Operational Excellence in Your Supply Chain

Designing a Lean Transformation Program


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