Forthcoming Book on Improving Your Own Service

Lean Service Improvement Book

Some of you may already know, I’m in the process of writing a book on improving your own service.

Lean Service Improvement Book
write by followtheseinstructions under CC BY-SA 2.0

I’m aiming the book at the people who work the process themselves, e.g.:

  • nurses
  • social workers
  • claims adjusters
  • HR/OD staff
  • office managers
  • office administrators
  • hotel staff
  • and their managers
  • and change agents/analysts

As you can see, it’s not restricted to any industry, but will be most relevant to those working in service industries (whether from private, public and 3rd sector), so that should include:

  • public sector
  • health
  • finance
  • retail
  • leisure
  • legal

More accurately, the information in the book could be useful for any industry, however there already exist books for improving manufacturing production processes, so I have not covered them.

What’s the book about?

The focus is on improving a service without recourse to large consultancy fees and should work well on small changes locally within a team and managed changes with partner teams and organisations (e.g. suppliers and B2B clients). It’s heavily based on Lean concepts, using simple tools, but also includes a framework in which to manage the changes. I’ve borrowed from a number of methodologies and concepts to meld together a method that is suitable for the average worker and implementable in any service team.

Your Input

While I’m happy to write this book alone and for everyone to read, I really like the idea of the readers contributing their thoughts as I write it. This fits nicely with the Lean Startup model, so to accomplish this, I’ve listed the current table of contents below. Please have a read through the table of contents and let me know what you think. If you’re interested in this book, let me know what you want to learn from it.

Draft Table of Contents

Section I: Beginning
1    Introduction
2    Background
3    Where to Start?
Section II: Redesign
4    How to Redesign the Service
5    Detailed steps for How to Redesign a Service
Section III: Other Paths
6    Refocus service on customer
7    Only have today to make changes
8    Bottleneck Resolution
9    Reduce errors and improve service
10    Create a new service
11    Improve office layout
Section IV: Case Studies
12    A Real World Example: Capacity and Value Stream Owner
13    A Real World Example: Duty Role in Social Care
14    A Real World Example: Urgent Cases in Social Care
Section V: Extensions
15    Other sorting methods
16    Making it Happen
17    Managing the Change
Section VI: Continuing
18    Sustaining Change
Section VII: Reflections
19    Important Perspectives
20   Other Frameworks
21    A final piece of advice
Section VIII: Appendices
22    Appendix A: The Rules
23    Appendix B – Pocket Guide for Service Redesign
24    Appendix C – Indicators of Blocked Flow and Waste
25    Appendix D: Tools
26    Appendix E: References
27    Quotes

What’s the Emotional Content of Your Customer Journey Maps?

What's the emotional content of your customer journey maps?

I’ve previously discussed the inclusion of a dormant state and a return loop when reflecting on the fact that the Customer Journey Never Ends.

What's the emotional content of your customer journey maps?
Traffic Smileys by The Wolf under CC BY 2.0

You can include a further extension of the customer journey maps by showing proximity or emotional state.

Focus on the Emotional State

Typical customer journey maps (or diagrams) depict activities and results, maybe important events as well. These commonly use the terminology of the organisation rather the customer. By shifting that focus onto how engaged the customer feels at each stage, we see the journey from a different perspective; that of the customer.

Sales Funnels

Companies often use a sales funnel to monitor their sales process. Analysing the performance against the states in the sales funnels allows a company to redesign its sales process or to develop additional collateral. Some of the funnels focus on emotional state mixed with likelihood of buying. The customer journey map that displays emotional states can fit very well with the states defined in sales funnels. For example, the tables at the end of the superb Lean Entrepreneur book take the reader through the different levels of engagement that a customer experiences as they progress through the sales funnel:

  • Aware
  • Intrigued
  • Trusting
  • Convinced
  • Hopeful
  • Satisfied
  • Passionate

Extend the States

These funnel states would need to be extended to include less positive states commonly found as customers move away from your organisation, e.g.:

  • Apathetic
  • Disgruntled
  • Adversarial

There may be more states, but that will depend on your customers and what you understand about them.

How Can You Do This?

  1. Compile a complete list of emotional states for your customers
  2. Filter this list to create a simple, single list that reflects the combined understanding from marketing, sales and service/retention departments
  3. Develop the customer journey maps
    1. Take the list of states and apply them as an overlay to your existing customer journey maps or
    2. Take the list of states and create a new customer journey map

My preference would be to start afresh as thinking based on the emotional state is likely to produce a different picture of the journey than the model based on activities and results.

Customer Input

You may have noticed that I didn’t include asking the customer for their emotional state. I nearly always advocate gaining input from customers in the most appropriate manner. I only omitted it above for the fact that it’s often a step too far for a lot of organisations. However, if your organisation has the means to engage with customers at the right level, then collate the emotional content from your customers and use that to build your customer journey map.

The Customer Journey Never Ends

Signs by I Am Fry under by-nd 2.0

I’m reminded of the phrase “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. Similarly, as soon as an organisation starts a relationship with a customer, they’re stuck with that relationship. Many organisations design customer journeys but think from their own perspective rather than that of the customer. That’s a mistake but one that can be simply rectified.

Customer Journey Never Ends
Signs by I Am Fry under by-nd 2.0

An exchange between customer and company lasts longer than the original transaction. For instance, if a customer buys a product, has a fault, then has to return it. That’s one set of interactions all about the one transaction. The fact that it can last longer is nothing new, what has changed is the proximity of the customer and company. Now, the customer can submit a complaint online, they can spread the word via social media or they can ask for assistance on an online forum. This makes the customer and company a lot closer than before. The implication is that even if the customer has stopped buying from you and now buys elsewhere, their opinion will count forever.

Even though the customer has finished their exchange with your organisation, they are a still a person with memories and experiences. When they next come to buy, will they use your company or another?

Additional Customer Journey States

A further implication is in how we can design customer journeys to be more comprehensive and reflective of what actually happens. A depiction of the overall customer journey should include a state where the relationship is dormant and a loop for repeat custom (whether repeat of the original purchase or of a new product). The journey could be extended further still to show some of the customers leaving your company, probably from that dormant state and buying from a competitor. Some of these will return, some not, but all of their opinions will count.

Hopefully these two ideas will help you handle the fact that the customer journey never ends, at least from the customer’s perspective.

Strategic Analysis and Direction

Direction sign
Direction sign

Bringing a calm strategy to muddy waters. The benefit of using external consultants is that they can see through the internal politics and difficulties.

Strategic Analysis and Direction

Often the direction is not clear; there are a myriad of options or the service is trapped in an ever-continuing scenario of fighting daily fires. If you’re in that situation, then you could benefit from an engagement of Strategic Analysis. In that engagement, we look for the critical fulcrums; those pivot points that provide the greatest benefit to you at the time that you will need them.

We specialise in Lean concepts, finding it more applicable to service industries than Six Sigma or mixed Lean Six Sigma. By applying these concepts at a strategic level, organisations can achieve more efficient and aligned processes and teams. In the end, we’re always aiming for a better, smoother flow of work.

Target Operating Model

A specific package of the strategic direction resulting in a model for how your service will operate in future. It provides a destination against which all other changes can be evaluated. Target Operating Models (TOMs) usually consist of several integrated layers (e.g. geography, functions, customers, etc). The choice of which layers to use and how to represent them depends on your situation and can be discussed during engagement.

Want to know more, then contact us.