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Cases, Customers, Data Science, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing

Make Use of Your Survey Data – Kano It

Nearly all medium-size and large companies spend hundreds of thousands or even millions on customer surveys every year. Customer survey results serve to amend strategies, design new products and services and focus improvement activities. Gathering customer survey data is only the first step. The second step involves making best use of the expensive data, analysing them, drawing business relevant conclusions and making important decisions. How are we doing in this step?

BPR, Cases, Customers, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Service

Complaints – The Tip of the Iceberg

“Voice of the Customer” – VOC in short – is a key topic in all kind of customer service, TQM or Lean Six Sigma training and related project work. There are two main categories for VOC data, reactive and proactive. Firstly, proactive data is collected with methods like focus groups, interviews, observations, surveys or test customers. Secondly, reactive data is mainly based on customer complaints, feedback, hotline data or warranty claims. The nature of the human being restricts itself almost always to negative comments through reactive data channels.

Value Complaints - They Carry Valuable Information About Your Processes

Value Complaints – They Carry Valuable Information About Your Processes

Proactive versus Reactive Feedback

Asking staff working in customer service departments about the nature of the feedback they receive from customers will result in answers like “No-one calls to tell us how good we are in delivering our service. Most of the calls – that are not questions – are more or less strong complaints.” On the one hand, this sounds frustrating, “not fair”. On the other hand, “negative feedback” is very powerful due to the fact that someone takes the time and tells us what goes wrong in our processes, hence shows us opportunities for getting better, for getting more competitive, for growing. The quality of this kind of information is usually much better than the feedback received via proactive channels like surveys due to the fact that respondents of surveys do usually not have a stake in the issue.

How do YOU feed back?
Reactive
The other day in Singapore, I had a small complaint about an SBS bus driver who did not really respect me cycling my way on the road. After getting home I took some time to recap what happened and wrote a very detailed letter to SBS to explain the situation.
Proactive
After I spent some days in a hotel in Batam, I received a survey form I needed to fill in before leaving the hotel. Did I fill it in? Make a guess…

The Value of Complaints

Customer research studies in the German financial industry some years ago have shown, that complaints normally reveal only the “tip of the iceberg”. Receiving 50 complaint letters means we get only the feedback from those people who take the time and the courage to complain. Hence, there might be about 1250 customers out there who experience a similar situation but do not complain. May be they go immediately to our competitor if they have a chance. We may never find out. Furthermore, the research has shown that there might be as much as 10 times more negative contact points with our company – like “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line.” These negative incidents are not “big enough” for a complaint but always impactful enough to drive customers’ decision sooner or later.

Conclusion

Welcome complaints! As long as you get complaints someone is interested in your service and wants to help you improving. Behind each complaint you can expect as much as 25 times the situation that has led to the complaint and as much as 250 negative “Moments of Truth” with your company. Use this valuable and powerful information for taking actions. And, give positive feedback, too!

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Cases, Customers, Manufacturing, Service, Strategy

What You Measure is What You Get

Developing a compelling vision and mission statement as well as a sound strategy is vital for any organisation. Equally important is the translation of the strategy into the day-to-day business. This step becomes even more critical for multi-national companies with their need for regional adaptation and alignment with corporate at the same time. So, how do we make sure our mid- and long-term plans – developed in the head quarter – make sense to business leaders and employees in other regions?

HR Strategy, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Staff Development

The Difference Between Black Belt and Black Belt

Six Sigma has been developed decades ago and fine-tuned by many companies since then. However, there is no ISO standard or something similar guiding the deployment or regulating the certification of the key players, Green Belts or Black Belts. There is only one key requirement that helps distinguish between success and failure: business results.

The easiest task in the journey to deploying Six Sigma or similarly Lean Six Sigma is the training of Green Belts and Black Belts. Many training companies have discovered this gold mine and produce hundreds of Belts every year. For small money, nearly everyone can attend twenty 3-hour evening sessions led by trainers who have hardly run any projects to become a Green Belt including certificate. Taking this certificate, attaching it to the CV and going for the next job application is a question of days.

Cases, Data Science, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Operations

Three Rules for Data Analysis: Plot the Data, Plot the Data, Plot the Data

The job of purchasing is obviously to source for reliable suppliers who deliver products conforming to specification on time within a certain price range. The more data is available about potential suppliers the better the decision will be. However, how shall the data be analysed?
FridgeMaker used to get supplies of a very crucial part, the Spacer, from Supplier X. Unfortunately, over the last months Supplier X has been struggling with waves of reorganisation resulting in unreliable deliveries and hence line stoppages for FridgeMaker.

Table 1: Supplier Qualification Data for Spacer (USL=10.8, LSL=10.2)

FridgeMaker is looking for new suppliers for all parts coming from Supplier X. Purchasing has already started the supplier qualification process for the Spacer (10.5 +/-0.3) and has received parts from suppliers A, B and C. The data are shown here. Following this data purchasing can make their decision on price. All of the suppliers meet the requirements set out in the tender document.   

Cases, Data Science, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Operations

What to Do With Special Causes?

“Don’t use Six Sigma to tackle special cause variation!”

is one of the common phrases being repeated by Lean Six Sigma coaches and a very important recommendation for the management, too.
The Six Sigma methodology is indeed targeting variation that is an inherent part of the process – common cause variation that has been expected and tolerated due to its unknown and supposedly complex root causes. Understanding this variation and analysing the real root causes before implementing improvements is a fundamental pillar of the methodology and driver for its success.

Cases, Enablers, HR Strategy, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Operations, Service, Staff Development

Take Care of Your Talent – Develop your Belt

Against the common belief, statistical knowledge is not a criterion for selecting your Belts. However, the capability to acquire new technical skills, to apply these skills successfully is an important prerequisite. More important is the aptitude to involve, motivate, coach and train people, to lead and manage teams towards delivering results and to communicate effectively with different levels in the organisation.
A study by iSixSigma Magazine about the importance of different skills and characteristics for a successful Black Belt (“The Hard Truth About Soft Skills,” January/February 2008) was showing that Communication Skills is by far the most important requirement. Leadership Skills came in second and Technical Skills third. The question for the importance of Soft Skills for different roles in the Six Sigma deployment was answered by 72% for Green Belts and 99% for Black Belts with important or very important (5-point scale). Soft Skills include Communication, Collaboration, Team Leadership, Change Management, Time Management as most important to the success of the Belt.   Continue reading →

BPR, Cases, Manufacturing, Operations

BPR Case Study: Preparation for ERP Purchase & Implementation

An Australian construction equipment rental & leasing firm had decided to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning system in 12 months. During this 12 month period there was an expectation that all front-end services including Sales, Customer Service, Receivables, Payables, would be re-designed to achieve streamlining and simplification prior to ERP implementation.

Operations spanned 18 cities across Australia with many more small ‘re-sellers’ located in the Australian interior or ‘outback’ as it is locally known. Compounding a normal organisational and operational setup was the fact that this firm grew a substantial portion of its business through the acquisition route thus effectively incorporating myriad systems and practices. There were 5 Receivables systems, 4 Payables systems and a decentralized customer service database (more than 200 input platforms) which needed to be tied together to make the ERP implementation work.
Continue reading →

Cases, Manufacturing, Operations

SMED Case Study: Steel Tools Manufacturer

After a Lean programme for inventory was instituted the production facility struggled with getting a good product mix out to the finished goods inventory due to relatively long change-over times for cutting dies. Steel tool (final product) cutting dies need to be replaced after every 4 Kanban batch runs of 225 pieces each.

This frequent changeover, occurring once every hour of work is necessary to maintain and re-sharpen the cutting die’s cutting edges. Current changeover time for the cutting die was approximately 60 minutes and included the use of a single 10 ton forklift though the die weight was 5 tons. Nearly 50% of a working day was ‘wasted’ on changeovers not including the impact of the ‘inability’ to achieve a high vol-ume of product mix for agility to meet with product demand requirements of a Lean pro-gramme.
Continue reading →

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