Tag Archives: voice of the customer

Lean Office & Management Training

The training referred to below is currently being revised and upgraded. Please visit our new website www.Levantar.co.uk or go directly to Lean Office Management Services page on the website.

 

Despite the inflationary pressures and ups and downs of the wider UK economy, UK manufacturing has continued to grow both in terms of outputs and productivity. Indeed in recent observations the most resilient manufacturing firms will be those exporting. This in a sector often more linked with exporting jobs not products!

Can service organisations and office departments learn from the manufacturing firms and departments? learn the continuous improvement techniques that have made these firms more efficient, more productive and more resilient?

learn how to

  • increase the capacity of their departments,
  • get through work faster,
  • reduce errors and
  • positively impact cash flow!

Can service organisations learn how to get more out of their current resources? How can non-manufacturing departments support the shop floor improvement initiatives?

Lean thinking techniques which have been prevalent in UK manufacturing for many years have been translated and applied in offices, distribution and retail environments by many companies including Tesco, Zara, HMRC, Starbucks etc so these continuous improvement techniques can be applied outside of manufacturing to departments such as marketing, sales, accounting, hr and they deliver results in the form of Lean Office and Lean Management.

It gets better in the UK if you’re in Yorkshire or Humberside, not only can you learn the techniques but you can get 50% towards the investment in training. There are no restrictions on sectors, business size or turnover, you must be privately funded though. (Public sector organisations and those outside the Yorkshire & Humber region can complete the course and get the qualifications but the funding is NOT available to them)

The training runs to a total of 24 hours of training (3 days or 6 half days) + a work based project and leads to a qualification for the attendees and the course is overseen by Leeds University Business School and MAS Yorkshire & Humberside.

The article Lean Office, Lean Management Training – Yorkshire and Humberside details the specific offer and how to get the training course (3 days, 6 half days etc) for an investment of just £750 per attendee.

Courses can be tailored to the specific needs of a company if it wishes to put a number of staff through a course.

The Lean Office course is one of  9 continuous improvement courses that follow a similar framework, 3 days of training, work based project and qualification via Leeds University Business School and Manufacturing Advisory Service through their Manufacturing Masters programme and they can all be funded.

Continuous Improvement in Legal firms

“Doing a better job, in a shorter time, makes customers more satisfied. The more satisfied a customer is, the more they will recommend you to others and be prepared to look to you again for future solutions”

If you find the statement above agreeable and yet also believe that “Value Billing” or other alternative fee arrangements in the legal (or other professional services) sector could mean that revenues and profits will be reduced, then one solution that has been used in the States could be of interest.

The Association of Corporate Counsel has noted that the work conducted by one company in the article has put it “five years ahead of every other AmLaw 200” and led to them being able to cut the cost of providing services by up to 50%.

The article, which is entitled, Continuous Improvement”  (in legal firms)

click the article title to access the pdf, or as we knew it internally here “Improving Legal Firm Efficiency: 5 Management Principles”, was written by ourselves and published in the September 2010 edition of the Law Business Review magazine and it explores the dramatic results of applying Lean Thinking in a law firm.

Note: Law Business Review don’t have a copy of the magazine available on the web, this is the only place you can get a free copy of this artice from the magazine. If you want a copy but have problems downloading it then contact info@resqmr.co.uk requesting a copy and we’ll send it on.

If you would like to explore how this form of Continuous Improvement can work in your legal (or other professional services) organisation then drop us a line info@resqmr.co.uk

The website for the magazine, who kindly published our insight, can be found at LawBusinessReview.co.uk and it is published by LexisNexis and covers a wide range of business issues and typically contains 6 core areas; Business School, Client Focus, Skill Development, International Business, Future Knowledge and Risk Management.

Other sources we used for this research include:

www.leanlaw.net by Mark Jackson

www.troubleahead.co.uk by Michael Scutt

Tip: Use the buttons below to re-tweet, email or print out this blog.

 

About the Author;

Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Production Engineering. He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.

Sir Terry Leahy’s Lean Commandments?

I came across these Ten Commandments for Good Management from a presentation given by Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco PLC, Fresh & Easy in the States, only one of them is called Lean Thinking but I think that I can easily make a case for six of them relating to a true lean journey. You might even be able to make a case for another two of his Ten Commandments to be part of the same journey.

For info Tesco started on a lean journey in about 1994, when a clear second in the UK Supermarket league, fifteen years later and they are almost twice the size of their nearest UK competitors and are making a go of it internationally.

Here are, a shortened version of the Commandments: (link to full article below)

Commandment Number 1: Find the truth – LEAN; Gemba

Commandment Number 2: Set audacious goals.

Commandment Number 3: Vision, values and culture are critical.

Commandment Number 4: Follow the customer – LEAN; only customers can truly value your products or services.

Commandment Number 5: Create a steering wheel – LEAN; Visual Management Systems

Commandment Number 6: People, process and systems – LEAN; Value Stream Mapping, waste reduction, & create flow 

Commandment Number 7: Lean thinking.  LEAN; I’ve left the full quote in here, ” Most think that lean thinking comes out of Just-In-Time manufacturing in Japan, but it can apply to anything from retail through banking. We apply lean thinking to the complete supply chain, and that is why we are more productive than most.”

Commandment Number 8: Competition is good (LEAN??; read Taichii Ohno’s book the Toyota Production System and you’ll find that they set out to learn and beat the US producers.)

Commandment Number 9: Simple beats complex – LEAN; Value Stream Mapping, Removing the 7 hidden wastes.

Commandment Number 10: Leadership (LEAN??; as he is quoted “So big organisations in order to be effective needs thousands of leaders, not just one”) 

If you want to read the full article, with all the details of the commandments then it can be found on the following website  Sir Terry Leahy’s Ten Commandments.

What do you think are 6 or 8 of the commandments based on Lean, can a case be made for all 10? or is that just trying to fit the data to support the model?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Do you REALLY listen?

Do you listen to the Voice of Your Customers? I mean really listen, not just to what they say but what they do and how it affects your business?

Could listening to the Voice Of the Customer (VOC) have saved a UK bank?

Back in autumn 2008, we highlighted the story of Norwich Union (Aviva, if you watch the adverts or are based anywhere outside the UK) who had just started a car insurance marketing campaign which we felt was a really good example of Lean Marketing.

WHAT WAS IT?

NU (Norwich Union) offered to give its potential customers a quote for car insurance and at the same time it would give prices from its competitors (using web technology) even if they were cheaper.

WHY?

We hypothesised that NU was testing similar work to that we talk about in Lean Marketing, in which we talk of Customer Value & Loyalty being built on three core foundations;

  1. Features & Benefits – what is it about your product/service that are the hygiene factors? what sets your product/service apart from the competitors?
  2. Brand – what does the brand say about how you’ll treat me as a customer? in these credit-crunch days, how much confidence do I have you’ll be here next year?
  3. Price – often “quoted” as the single reason customers buy from a company however it’s rarely the biggest reason!! (try testing people by asking what their competitors charge – if it’s that important surely they’d know?)

These foundations impact on the value customers place on the total package they receive and on their loyalty, the exact nature of the impact varies, depending on the industry. However we believe NU was saying if you value our Features and Benefits, trust our Brand then our Price is less important and we don’t have to be the cheapest in the market.

I can hear almost what you saying “but they’ll have lost potential customers”.

Almost certainly they have; there are consumers out there who buy the cheapest, but exactly what have NU lost?

Potential customers who were basing their purchase solely on price, so what would happen at the renewal of their insurance? they’d look for the cheapest supplier again. So NU would have invested (marketing & sales) resources in acquiring a customer, incurred costs setting up their details (operational resources), sending out policy document and packs (distribution resources) only to have that customer looking to leave after one year. This type of customer is probably less likely to have bought anything else from NU, the price was their largest consideration.

Contrast this with the customers they may get on their book with Lean Marketing? they are not so readily driven by price, these customers are also placing more value on the Features & Benefits and Brand offered by NU. So again a hypothesis, these customers are probably more likely to buy other products (cross sales) and more likely to stay with the company when it comes to renewal.

Result: the organisation removes one of the “7 Hidden Wastes of Marketing” – the waste of attracting customers who only buy one product once based purely on price! There is always someone else waiting with bigger and deeper pockets ready to compete on price.

Does it work?

Well the advert appeared to run for a couple of months, in Autumn 2008 and then stopped, now it is back and running again, a classic direct marketing test you could say.

We are summarising that the fact that it is back and running is because it worked;

  1. customers acquired by Norwich Union have proved to be more robust, less likely to cancel!
  2. more likely to purchase other Norwich Union products.

we can’t say that they are more likely to renew, the advert appears to have only been running for 7 months so far, we’ll know if this strategy stays past Oct/Nov later this year.

You may have also noticed that the UK price comparison (moneysupermarket, gocompare, confused.com etc) websites have started introducing new features that compare the product features and allow for feedback on customer experience (of the brand) – have they too realised that not everyone buys on price alone?

So could this help anyone else? even have saved a UK Bank?

Back in in 2006/07 HBOS (now part of Lloyds Banking Group) implemented a new mortgage strategy, prior to whch they commanded 21% of the new mortgage market. The strategy which was simple and not too dissimilar to NU’s, was that HBOS would no longer offer potential and existing customers different mortgages @ different prices.  There would be one group of prices and they would be priced to maintain a reasonable margin for the bank.

(In the UK most lenders had a policy of offering new customers introductory rates to entice them in these would rise at the end of a fixed period – though you could move and re-mortgage as a new customer rate with another lender.)

So what was the result? The HBOS share of the new mortgage market dropped 8% from 21% – or a 62% reduction – in a six month period. Other lenders retained their policy of offering great deals to new customers. HBOS on the other hand was offering not so great deals to new customers but offering better deals to its’ own customers coming to the end of their existing deal – to try and improve customer retention.

What were potential and new customers telling HBOS? over half (62%) of the customers HBOS could have expected to sell to, went elsewhere. Was it that

  1. The features and benefits of the mortgage weren’t compelling enough over those of it’s rivals?
  2. The brand wasn’t strong enough to convince these people to come to the company?
  3. Price became the primary factor in the decision making process – effectively customers saying “We’re that strapped for cash we need to watch every penny?”

This last one I find interesting – was it the first warning sign of the economic health of HBOS customers or even the housing market and economy in general?

It certainly should have highlighted that 62% of the customers on the existing mortgage book might not be interested in other products (cross-selling), they might only have bought on price alone. Or highlighted that the branding work and the features and benefits of the HBOS mortgages were not regarded as positively different enough by over half the market – the same conclusion could be drawn about the competitors. Remember these customers came to HBOS prior to their pricing changes.

Did HBOS listen? We’ve no idea, the only articles in the public domain talk of corrective pricing strategies that reversed the previous strategy and boosted their share of new mortgages back up to the 15-20% band.

Maybe HBOS did consider what their customers (existing and potential) were telling them, maybe they changed their features and benefits, maybe they changed their branding work, we’ve no evidence, they never said, maybe they considered all this and dismissed it.

Maybe they considered the shareholder customers above those who bought the product and services. (The share price dropped when HBOS admitted that their share of the mortgage market had dropped.)

If you realised that 62% of your market were

  • in financial difficulties
  • couldn’t discern product differences between providers
  • didn’t believe your brand offered a different experience?

What would you do differently?Listen, ask more questions, change what you do, stay doing the same, get out (let someone esle take the risk)…..

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine