Ever order onion rings at a restaurant? I have to admit I like them, but you are never quite sure what you are going to get when you place your order.
Some restaurants serve their rings in thin slices with a little bit of batter. Others offer thickly-breaded, wide rings. Sometimes their offerings are crisp, while some drip with grease when you bite them. Some are actual rings of sliced onion, but sometimes you get pieces of onion processed together before breading. We even have one local establishment that seems to change its style every year or two.
You are just never sure what you will get the first time you place your order. You may get what you hope for, or they could be tasteless or cold or a different style than you desire.
What does this have to do with your business? Think about what your customers experience when they use your products or services. Are they the same every time? Is the quality consistent? Is the service always predictable and acceptable?
Perhaps there are inconsistencies in some of these areas. While the customer may be satisfied when they initially work with you, the variations in your process may keep them from staying with you over the long term. A new customer may not be so lucky and discover problems the first time through the door. In either case, the customer is not likely to return.
I realize that no process can be 100% consistent. There will always be variation in everything we do. The key is developing our work systems to limit the variation to acceptable levels.
One way to do this is involving your workforce to study the factors that impact consistent production. A variety of data gathering and analysis tools, such as those that are part of Statistical Process Control can be used by workers to identify problems and be certain the system is operating as desired.
By also involving your customers in this process, employees can hear directly from them about what they like and dislike or any problems they have experienced. This can help lead to improved process designs that better meet customer needs and expectations.
Using the experience and expertise of the workforce can produce a stable, controlled system of production, no matter what product or service your organization provides. Whether its onion rings or office procedures, producing heavy equipment or finding better ways to teach children, involving employees and customers can result in a better, more consistent outcome.
If you are interested in implementing this type of process or refining your existing efforts, contact CALMC.