Lean Consumption in Process Design: What your customer wants

Putting the customer in the center of your process is a hot topic and a perennial challenge in BPM circles so I read with interest the principles of ‘lean consumption’ in James Womack’s Gemba Walks.

To get the customer into the center of a lean initiative, Womack introduces the idea of ‘ean consumption’ or the theory is that businesses can achieve significantly better results through process design that takes into account the process a consumer uses to consume their product or service.

Here are his guiding principles for thinking about lean consumption:

  • Solve the customer’s problem completely by insuring that everything works the first time
  • Don’t waste the customer’s time
  • Provide exactly what the customer wants
  • Provide value where the customer wants
  • Provide value when the customer wants
  • Reduce the number of problems the customer needs to solve

It’s a good list but I find myself drawn to the first point on this list in particular.

It’s probably the most concise definition of how to delight your customers I have seen. Great customer service isn’t about ‘over-delivering’ on your customer’s expectations. It comes down to the simple truth that most customers know what they want and want you to deliver it as fast and easily as possible.

The challenge for your business is to make that happen. The starting point is a hard one: You need to know what you customer wants.