When most people think of Lean Six Sigma (LSS), the first thing that comes to mind is improving process efficiency. However, the customer is actually at the heart of LSS philosophy. This focus begins with understanding their needs and requirements and extends through every stage of the process – from design to delivery to post-sale support. In this article, we will further define this philosophy and explore how it affects every aspect of the organization.
Overview: who is the LSS customer?
The answer may seem obvious, but it’s worth taking a closer look. It can be defined as anyone who interacts with or benefits from a business process. This also includes employees, suppliers, partners, and even society as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at each group:
- Customers: They are the reason businesses exist in the first place. They are the people who purchase goods and services, and they should be the top priority for businesses.
- Employees: Employees are an important part of the experience. They are responsible for delivering products and services so they must have the necessary skills and training. Employee satisfaction is also key – happy employees provide better service.
- Suppliers: It is important to work with suppliers who share your commitment, and who are willing to work collaboratively to improve the experience.
- Partners: Working with partners who share your values can create solutions that exceed expectations.
- Society: Contributing positively to the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting social welfare are all achieved through LSS.
3 benefits of the LSS customer philosophy
When looked at and worked with from an LSS perspective, the benefits to those on the receiving end are numerous. Some of the most common benefits include improved processes overall, Voice of the Customer, and consistently excellent service provided by trained employees.
1. Process improvement
Improved processes benefit everyone. End users respond favorably because their wait times are reduced, errors are few and far between, and goods or services are received more efficiently. The experience is enhanced from start to finish.
2. Voice of the Customer
Voice of the Customer is one of the most important LSS tools. Customers are not only empowered to share their feedback throughout the process – from design to delivery to post-sale support – but they also see tangible proof that their feedback was heard and acted on.
3. Trained employees
The LSS customer philosophy believes that employees must be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to provide excellent customer service. Training employees on customer service basics such as communication, problem-solving, and product knowledge can help deliver a positive experience every time.
Why is the LSS customer philosophy important to understand?
The customer focus of Lean Six Sigma is important to understand because it drives all aspects of the process. Creating value for the customer by improving quality and reducing cost doesn’t happen without process improvement initiatives, and those initiatives start with understanding customer needs and requirements.
Opportunities for improvement won’t even be identified if LSS practitioners do not have a deep understanding of the customer’s perspective.
An industry example of the LSS customer philosophy
An industry where customer focus is essential is healthcare. In the current healthcare landscape, patients are increasingly being seen as consumers, and are demanding more from their healthcare providers. This has led to the rise of customer-focused initiatives such as patient experience scores, which measure how satisfied patients are with their care.
Many hospitals are using Lean Six Sigma to improve patient satisfaction scores, focusing on identifying and addressing customer pain points, such as long wait times and poor communication. As a result of the program, their patient satisfaction scores increased an average of 15% more than those without LSS programs.
7 best practices when thinking about the LSS customer philosophy
By following the Lean Six Sigma customer focus best practices, businesses can improve satisfaction levels and create loyal customers who are more likely to recommend them to others. These practices include:
- Conducting interviews, surveys, and focus groups to get a clear picture of what the customer wants and needs.
- Understanding pain points and areas of dissatisfaction.
- Translating needs into process requirements, done by creating customer-focused process maps that show how the desired outcomes should be achieved.
- Creating a process that meets or exceeds expectations, while still being efficient and cost-effective; can be done using LSS tools and techniques such as data analysis, problem-solving, and statistical methods.
- Delivering on expectations.
- Ensuring that the process is properly designed and implemented, and that feedback is acted on quickly and effectively.
- Providing excellent post-sale support, which can help to build loyalty.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about LSS customer philosophy
What is customer focus?
The customer focus of Lean Six Sigma is the philosophy that drives all aspects of the process. It puts the client at the center of everything, from product design to delivery to post-sale support.
Why is customer focus important?
Customer focus is important because it allows businesses to improve quality and reduce cost by understanding needs and requirements. Without a deep understanding of customers’ perspectives, opportunities for improvement will not be identified.
Why is the LSS approach more successful than other methodologies?
LSS takes a data-driven, process-oriented approach to satisfaction, which helps businesses identify and address pain points quickly and effectively. Additionally, LSS provides excellent post-sale support, which can help build loyalty.
The LSS customer philosophy in one word: understanding
Lean Six Sigma is, among other things, a system of goals and results, and the two are often different. Because every process is ultimately designed to achieve improvements, it’s easy to mistakenly assume that improvements are the goal. But when it comes to customers, they’re not. They’re the results.
The goal is understanding.
But not just any understanding. One that preserves human connections. An understanding that is real, transparent, and unconditional. The kind of understanding that is bravely willing to go against the standard rhetoric and acknowledge that sometimes the client isn’t right, but they should always be listened to. It’s an understanding of the customer that is so complete, improvements are inevitable.