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Six Sigma and Customer Development

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  • #30356

    Linda Pophal
    Participant

    I “ran into” this forum and am hoping some members of this community may be able to help me out!
    I work for an integrated healthcare system and  was recently assigned responsibility as “process owner” for “customer development and retention.” I just completed a 3-day training program as a kick-off for our team activities. Now we’re faced with the challenge of moving forward with this process and, as I’m sure you know, it’s a daunting proposition! I’m hoping to gather some background information from other organizations that have already “been there” and might be able to generate some ideas or concepts about high-level process, etc. We’re already running into some “internal political battles” related to what belongs in our process and what is “off limits” (i.e. defining product mix? pricing?).
    Any information you could provide either in terms of people to contact, resources specifically related to process mapping for the customer development process, sample process maps, etc., would be extremely helpful.
    Linda Pophal Luther Midelfort-Mayo Health System 715-838-1965 [email protected]

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    #78980

    Cannizzo
    Participant

    Hi Linda,
    I’d be happy to provide you any thoughts/suggestions that I can. Can you first define “customer development and retention” from your perspective (healthcare). It would be helpful before responding to your query.
    –Carol

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    #78983

    Linda Pophal
    Participant

    Thanks Carol,
    For us, the “customer” could be the patient or it could be an employer that purchases an insurance product that allows employees access to our services.
     

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    #78984

    melvin
    Participant

    Take a look at a “The Six Sigma Way”, Pande, P.S., et al.; Ch 12 is on Identifying Core Processes and Key Customers.  I think you’d benefit from the section on creation of high level process map for this area using a SIPOC model, i.e.:
    S – who are suppliers to the process
    I  – what inputs are supplied to the process
    P – 4 – 5 steps for converting inputs top outputs
    O – what product(s) are of int4erest to the customers
    C – who are customers for the process
    Benefits would arise from getting consensus on the boundaries of the process, as well as mutual consensus on all the info above.  IS it possible to get an appropriate team together to complete this task?
     
     
     
     
     

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    #78986

    Linda Pophal
    Participant

    Thanks Bob. Yes, we do have a team that will be working on this process and developing SIPOCs will be one of our tasks. We’re at the point now of identifying process boundaries and I’ll just looking for some “reality checks” related to the customer acquisition and retention process — I know this process exists in other organizations and am curious about how they’ve established their high level process, etc.

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    #78988

    Mikel
    Member

    Linda,
    On the idea of things being off limits, you need to get the people leading the training to step up to this one. Nothing is off limits if the data (not intuition or prejudice) leads you there. Get that on the table early or you will fail.

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    #78996

    Linda Pophal
    Participant

    Thanks Stan — those were my feelings as well but it helps to have them verified by someone who has already been through the process. I appreciate your input!

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    #78997

    Ron
    Member

    Linda,
    As a six sigma professional currently working in the financial community I can identify with your task. We have had several six sigma initiative in the area of customer retention.
    The best thing to do is begin with what we call a thought process map. This six sigma tool is used to brainstorm with your team those action that you feel you will need to do to tackle this elephant.
    One of the key things you will need is good customer benchmarking data. Do you have the financing to perform focus groups and customer surveys? This is the first step in retention “Understanding the voice of the customer”, second go to your call center or complaint desk and begin gathering data.
    Be sure to require exit interviews on all customers that have left your organization.. Once you have amassed these data your path to implementing solutions will begin to reveal itself.
    I would avoid philosophical books such as have been referred to as they usually are non specific and talk in generalities.
    Network as you have here. If you have any specific questions regarding how to continue please post here often. You’ll get more help than you can imagine.
     
     

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    #79012

    jtucci
    Participant

    Linda,
    Pay attention to team dynamics as you tackle this elephant.  If this is not a full time assignment for you and the team it is easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out.  Set very clear 30 – 45 day milestones for the project.  Also, you may need some long team meetings in the beginning to get traction on the project, but after that it typically works best to hold relatively frequent but short short full team meetings — weekly 1-2 hour meetings is a good benchmark.  Alot of teamsget caught in trap of meeting 1 – 2 times per month and spend most of their meeting time trying to remember where they left off from the last meeting.
    Use these full team meetings as project management meetings to review assignments and set the gameplan for moving forward.  To get the project work done assign individual owners and break into smaller subgroups to advance the ball on key tasks and assignments.
    Start each full team meeting with a report out on assignments that were to be completed by that meeting.  Have a way of tracking completions so that the team can see the forward progress and to prevent assignments falling through the cracks.
    Contract with the senior management sponsor/process owner in advance on a review process — a weekly written summary by email and an update with the whole team every 30 days for example.
    Build in some fun and recognition as the team hits its milestones.
    Good luck, hope this helps a bit.
    John Tucci

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