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Using Lean to improve customer service

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1 Using Lean to improve customer service
at the University of St Andrews

2 Lean at the University of St Andrews an introductory guide
The benefits of Lean Why Lean at St Andrews? The five principles of Lean The eight wastes How can I implement Lean in my area? Knowing what your customer wants Measuring and data-gathering Using charts to interpret information Mapping the customer journey Using 5S to organise your workplace Using visual management tools What next? Keeping Lean going How do I make Lean work for me? Ensuring great customer service Where can I get more support? 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

3 The benefits of Lean 2 Why go Lean?
Lean thinking began with the Toyota Production System which transformed car manufacturing in post-war Japan, but is now being used by companies and organisations around the world, in the public and private sectors, to improve: Customer service Quality and efficiency Staff morale Internal communication and cooperation Lean is simple to implement and results are easily sustained. The principles are common-sense and can be adapted to give benefits in a range of business and service environments. For example, in recent years both Tesco and the NHS have successfully used Lean to improve the quality of their service. The benefits they have seen include: Reduced waiting times Lower costs Improved customer experience 2

4 Why Lean at St Andrews? People have got all sorts of questions about Lean: Why here, why now? Isn’t “Lean” more appropriate to manufacturing and heavy industry? Is this just the latest management fad? The fact is, Lean has proven its worth in streamlining processes and improving Efficiency within office administration. Many UK universities are now implementing large-scale change programmes aimed at reviewing their administrative services and developing a culture of continuous improvement. High quality administrative support is vital for the smooth running of every area of the University of St Andrews. As in many organisations, administrative functions in St Andrews have grown organically, which can lead to some services suffering because of a lack of coordination and clarity of purpose. We have a lot of skilled and motivated people who want to provide great service. Now it’s important to ensure that our administrative staff members are able to direct their Time and energy in doing so, without being held back or let down by outdated, unnecessary processes. 3

5 The five principles of Lean
Specify Value Is our service currently providing value to the customer? One of the ways in which we can find this out is by measuring the type and frequency of customer demand. For us, ‘the customer’ will almost certainly mean our students, but may also include our colleagues in other parts of the University, parents, alumni and external organisations. Identify the value stream By mapping our administrative processes, step-by-step, we can see what adds value and provides a good service to our customers, and where there is waste. Make the process flow We work on eliminating waste from our administrative processes, to streamline the end-to-end journey. This makes the process ‘flow’ smoothly and efficiently, and minimises delay. Let the customer pull By focusing on the customer, we can understand and respond efficiently to customer demand. We look at every transaction between the customer and ourselves from the customer point of view. Continual Improvement We aim for perfection by taking responsibility for reviewing and improving our service on an ongoing basis. 4

6 The eight wastes Lean begins with an awareness of waste in our administrative processes, and in considering how we can reduce or remove it. The eight wastes we may find are: Transport Unnecessary movement of materials, people, information or paper. Inventory Excess stock: unnecessary files and copies, and extra supplies. Motion Unnecessary walking and searching; things not within reach or accessible. Waiting Idle time that causes the workflow to stop, such as waiting for signatures, machines, phone calls. Over-production Producing either too much paperwork / information, or producing it before it is required. This consumes resources faster than necessary. Over-processing Processing things that don’t add value to the customer, e.g. asking for student details multiple times, excessive checking or duplication. Defects Work that needs to be redone due to errors (whether human or technical) or because incorrect or incomplete information was provided. Skills misuse Not using full potential of staff; wasting the available knowledge, experience and ideas. 5

7 How can I implement Lean in my area?
Lean has a number of tools that can be used to help you. These tools are designed to be quick and simple to use, and present information in a visual way that is easy to understand. Tools include: Data-gathering techniques Charts and diagrams Value stream mapping 5S for workplace organisation Visual management These are just some of the tools that may help you understand demand, measure performance and plan for change. The Lean project team can give you information on and examples of further tools that you may find useful. 6

8 Knowing what your customer wants
Who is your customer? Probably your customers include students. Consider also the other people (or organisations) to whom you provide information, data, paperwork or to whom you refer students. Internally, your customers may be academics, School secretaries, or colleagues in other administrative departments. Externally, you may deal with parents, alumni, colleagues at other higher education institutions, funding bodies, local businesses, etc. Your customer = anyone, internal or external, who is affected by your processes or services What does your customer want? The best way to find out is to ask them. Arrange to visit colleagues for a chat about what they need from you. Use feedback forms (printed or electronic) to ask your customer to rate your service. Collect data on what customers are asking you when they get in touch, in their own words. Encourage feedback – good AND bad. A silent customer isn’t necessarily a happy customer, and you can only fix the problems if you know what they are. 7

9 Measuring and data-gathering
A good place to begin building a picture of your current processes and service is by measuring and data-gathering. Consider measuring such things as: End-to-end time of dealing with a work unit (this may be an individual file or application, a visitor, an invoice, or a transaction). How long work or customers spend waiting for the next step in the process. Volume of work dealt with, and how this varies over a year (or week/month). Number, type and source of errors. Frequency and type of customer demand – what are your customers asking for, do most of them want similar things, and are they currently receiving what they want from you? Type of communication – how many people contact you by phone? By ? By letter or fax? In person? 8

10 Use charts to interpret information
A chart can be an effective and precise way both to analyse your processes and to communicate results to others. A pareto chart is a bar chart, ordered highest to lowest. This gives an instant comparison and allows you to focus on the biggest or most time-consuming problems. A run chart shows data over time, and allows you to identify trends and patterns. 9

11 Mapping the customer journey
A key part of the Lean methodology is value stream mapping. Value is anything that is worthwhile from the customer point of view. The stream is the journey from end to end. The ideal process flows smoothly, to deliver output to the downstream customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. Start with where you are now. Map each step of your service journey from the customer’s point of view. This will be most effective if it is done in a group, by the people who do the work. It’s important that EVERY step is included, as this is a picture of how things really are rather than how things should be. The value stream map can be hand drawn, or even done with Post-It notes. Once you have a current state map of your customer journey, identify all the steps which add value to the customer. Everything else is either non-value adding or is waste. 10

12 Using 5S to organise your workplace
5S is a way of eliminating waste in your immediate office environment. It gives workers more control over their workplace and is a great way to start an improvement initiative. The 5S system has five key activities: Sort and remove unnecessary items. Straighten up your work area so that you have easy and efficient access to everything you need. Shine means making sure everything is clean and in good working order. Standardise by creating guidelines for keeping the area organised. Sustain by making 5S a habit. Sort Straighten Shine Standardise Sustain 11

13 Using visual management tools
Visual management makes use of charts, diagrams, tags, colour-coding, in fact anything that gives instant visual feedback on the current work state. Use visual management to communicate current conditions to your whole team Make sure the display is easily visible, and keep it simple. Visual management being used to track current state in Recruitment. Two visual control concepts you may come across in Lean are: kanban – a signal to replace stock or respond to a customer demand. poka-yoke – this is a way of mistake-proofing using colour or shape, or otherwise limiting options, to guide your customer to do things in the correct way. A primary visual display in use in the School of Modern Languages. 12

14 What next? Keeping Lean going
Future state mapping involves redesigning your processes, removing as much waste as possible. The ideal state is one of continuous flow, where you are responding to customer demand or ‘pull’ at exactly the right time. In administration, this means performing only the work that is needed at the moment, and avoiding work that is not required by the customer (whether a student or a colleague). This can be done by considering the end-to-end process rather than each person’s current duties. Again, this works best if the people who do the work are involved. Reorganising your workspace can have immediate benefits for efficiency, by improving communication, reducing motion waste, and enabling ‘joined-up’ working. Of course, when making decisions that will change jobs and workspace, ensure there is two-way communication at every stage. 13

15 How do I make Lean work for me?
You can help make your Lean initiative a success by: Making a real time commitment – the more time you can put in, the quicker the results and greater the rewards will be. Allocating the resources and getting everyone involved. Being clear about what you want to achieve. Communicating with your team, and listening to their suggestions. If you and your colleagues are working with the Lean project team, it’s also helpful if you: Stay flexible and stay involved. Keep an open mind about the possibilities. Commit to sustaining effort over time. Implementing Lean does require an initial investment of time, energy and imagination. Those who have made this commitment have found the results worthwhile. 14

16 Where can I get more support?
The Lean project team is happy to help or advise on any aspect of Lean implementation, process streamlining and customer service improvement. Call us on extension 2786 (Ali), 2784 (Steve), 2776 (Nicki) Or send us an You can also visit our web pages: Photo by: Alan Richardson 15

17 Bibliography James P Womack and Daniel T Jones Lean Thinking
Don Tapping and Tom Shuker Value Stream Management for the Lean Office Michael Heppell Five Star Service, One Star Budget Nigel May Barlow Batteries Included! Creating Legendary Customer Service Bourton Group Lean training material 2006 For further resources on Lean and other service improvement initiatives, please see our web page: Created by Nicki Brain, March 2007 Photos by Steve Yorkstone (Unless otherwise credited).

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