Understanding Customers: Be Lean, not Mean

Understanding Customers: Be Lean, not Mean

It's the 'holy grail': delivering what your customer really wants at the lowest possible cost. The answer is 'smart lean'.

Delivering what your customer really wants, and doing it economically, will generate reliable profits.

You can achieve this by adopting a “Lean” approach. Strive to understand what the customer really values, and then maximise customer value while continually improving internal processes and operations to minimise waste. Lean is in every system, process, department and employee within the organisation.

Reduce costs and improve customer experience
According to Charisse Gray, writing for business planning resource Business Propel, implementing lean measures across your business will lead to reduced costs, less waste, reduced lead times, increased capacity, fewer quality issues, and an overall improved customer experience.

If you need to improve any operational process, consider mapping it. Creating a visual picture of the process allows you to determine where customer value is being added, and then to identify the non-value added activities. This can be applied to every department within your business.

Within your map ask critical questions about the individual tasks within the processes to identify areas of waste like:

• Is this task necessary and why is it being done by this person/department?
• Can we re-arrange the physical layout of the department/office/factory/shop to reduce movement and facilitate flow?
• Can we eliminate, simplify or combine this task with another?
• Is this task actually adding customer value? Why does it take so long?
• Can we group these people/departments/tasks together?
• Are we giving the customer what he really wants or only what is available?
• Is this report necessary, who uses it, and for what purpose?
• Is this task actually adding customer value? Why does it take so long?
• Can we group these people/departments/tasks together?
• Are we giving the customer what he really wants or only what is available?
• Is this report necessary, who uses it, and for what purpose?

By reducing the waste in your processes while simultaneously increasing the value-added component, you can expect to see customer satisfaction and profits grow.