Continuing our daily series, here’s Question 4:
Q: We all agree that a poorly designed and managed system/process is counterproductive to satisfy customer’s needs effectively and efficiently. However, the process of changing the system for the better via a change in thinking, eventually comes down to delivering a process in a particular way (the need to accommodate variation not withstanding). The improved way of handling certain types of customer demand would therefore need to be specified and adhered to ensure predictable outcomes - is this not standardisation? What other name would you label the practices and behaviour of the redesigned system/process?
Stuart’s A: Standardisation can be put in place when the nature of demand has been established. Standard processes can be designed against standard demands. For example let’s say that you knew that 65% of you customers called in to ask for the balance of their business account, a standard process can be established to provide the answer to that question. However the problem occurs when standard processes policies and procedures are put in place with when no account has been taken of the nature of demand.
For example in the UK my bank (The Bank of Scotland) decided to standardise how they managed personal and business accounts. If you were an operator in the call centre you would now not be allowed to deal with both. So as a customer I used to be able to have a single operator transfer money from my business account and then pay bills with it from my personal account. The bank’s new standardised approach to dealing with business and personal customers differently means I now have to call twice.
Had the bank studied the nature of demand they would have made the system able to absorb demand, and would have had a process for handing a customer who had a business and personal account (assuming I was not the only one).
Hence the way to standardise is first to understand the nature of customer demand and make sure that the system can handle all the demands placed on it. The most important issue is not what standard processes are required but what is the nature of customer demand and how can we make sure that our operators are enabled to handle everything.
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