How to Become Customer Oriented with Lean Six Sigma

3 most important elements of customer satisfaction.

Today I will show you how to treat “over-orientation”.

Case Study: Improving Planning

Some weeks ago I started coaching a Lean Six Sigma project team on improving planning efficiency.

This company is a provider of special training and education programs for blind or visual disabled clients. There program consists of more than 35 modules, highly tailor-made, and planned by 11 individual departments.

The current situation:

  1. The planning of the programs is very time consuming work
  2. The customers have lots of waiting time (waste!) before and during the training program,
  3. The trainers have frequently unproductive hours
  4. The program takes almost always longer than expected (bad on-time-delivery performance)

This company was trying everything they could to improve the situation but it went out hand. It was too complex and became even more complex each time they came together to solve the problem.

Customer Oriented…Really?

In their effort to provide their clients a flexible, tailor-made program, they were lost and bound by all the constraints.

I told them that being customer oriented means providing the best possible service not only to the customer in front of you but to all others as well and even to those waiting to be served.

When trying to solve this planning issue the company was mainly focusing on their own point of view: how can we satisfy all the departments, what are the personal requirements of the trainers, what is the best timing for them to provide with training.

Looking inward combined with all the individual requests of the clients made the problem even more difficult to solve.

My advice: Focus

I advised the team to look at this problem from the customers’ point of view.

–          What do they experience?

–          What do they miss?

–          What is their CTS Tree (critical to satisfaction)?

–          Where is the imbalance between quality, time and cost/effort for the clients as they receive their training program?

Concentrating on the output first, trying to quantify its current level (baseline) keeps the team from getting lost right at the beginning.

The team initially had identified 8 metrics to measure the effectiveness of the planning activities. I advised to focus on a maximum of 2 (waiting times and on-time-delivery) to eliminate the overwhelm.

Focusing on only a few but vital issues during the rest of the project execution will ensure quick results within 3 to 5 months and significant reduction of waiting times – normally between 30% to 50% reduction.

Less waiting times, therefore shorter total lead times per customer increases the capacity of this company without investing in resources.

Do you want to achieve more with your current employees and machines?

Is your team looking at the issues from the customers’ point of view?

And are you focused on the on a limited number of vital metrics?

Let me know your stories.  Please share your stories, comments, and questions below.


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“Author of Profitable Empowerment”

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