Defining value correctly from the customer’s perspective is the first principle of Lean Service. The second principle is to design and manage the whole process for delivering this value backwards from the customer, in a ‘pull’ system, rather than forwards from the assets the provider is seeking to keep busy.
Most people have a hard time moving beyond eliminating waste from existing processes. However, these pioneering examples demonstrate just what can be achieved from being truly customer-focused.
The real significance of the authors’ work is that it starts by understanding what the customer is trying to achieve – customer purpose – rather than from customer satisfaction or even customer delight. Through an informed and systematic dialogue with customers it is possible to enhance value and to eliminate the costs of unnecessary activities resulting from ineffective delivery process, system infrastructures and product designs. This sets in motion a virtuous circle from which both the customer and the provider continue to gain.
It also shows the way forward in creating more rewarding work in service organisations. In a Lean Enterprise work becomes much more purposeful, creative and meaningful, resulting in a dynamic culture – so people stay and grow. This provides the foundation for innovative service redesign and development.