Sunday, May 25, 2014

Customers Feel Variations Not Averages.../.


Business units oftentimes rate their performances in the market place based on averages, you see statements like “Our company has 97% customer approval rating" This is very impressive if you are an insider. To the customers on the other hand, the statement means next to nothing. Consider the follow;
"Sally visits her regular coffee store on her way to work {Monday thru Friday} on a daily basis, Monday; Sally was in line for 10 minutes at the drive thru to pick up her favorite Frappuccino.
Tuesday, at the same time, she spent 12 minutes in line. Wednesday and Thursday, she spent 18 & 22 minutes respectively, and finally Friday, she spent 10 minutes in line again”
On average this coffee shop can brag of an average serving time of 14.4 minutes, rightfully so. However, Sally did not feel the same secondary to the variations she experienced over the 5 day period.

Unfortunately, Sally’s experience typifies what customers go through in our establishments. As a business operator, I am sure you will want to ensure all your processes run smoothly and align within the upper & lower limits of customer specifications. This brings into focus “Operational Definition”: a mutually agreed upon set of expectations between customers & business establishments. Consider the follow;
“The airline industry will define departure time as the time the aircraft is pushed away from the jet way, while, as customers we measure departure time as when the wheels are off & stowed and the aircraft is airborne” There is definitely variations in both definitions, the gap could stretch into hours.

The airlines definition makes sense within the industry, but not in the eyes of the customers at the end of the stick. Variations in our processes and the resultant customer experiences may be attributed to one (or more) influences of the 6 M’s of variations. Namely,
Method, Machine, Measurements, Mother nature, Materials, & Man (generic sense of the word)
In most organizations, the first element to blame when processes are out of synch is Man (people), but experienced business operators know better. Depending on the shape of the variation curve, we may be able to isolate the responsible M. Additionally, sometimes, there may be more than one M to blame


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