Lean Service Conference – October 24th 2000

Buckingham Conference Centre.
The Lean Service Conference. How to improve service and cut costs. What is ‘lean service’? Lean service takes the principles developed in world class manufacturing (‘lean thinking’) and applies them to service organisations. The consequence is rapid change, for little is ‘made’ in service organisations.

Featuring: John Seddon, Vanguard Consulting; Forrester Adams, Haldanes; Lynne Jiggins, BT Payphones; Sara Bax, PPP healthcare; Steve Parry, ICL; Joanne Cook and Alison Crane, Dolphin Telecomms; Peter Edwards, Change master.

Discover how Vanguard’s clients have applied the principles of lean service and achieved significant benefits in terms of improved performance and improved morale. You will find these ideas to be practical, relevant and easy to understand, but you will also learn that the greatest hurdle to overcome in implementing lean service is our preparedness to change the way we think about the design and management of our organisations.

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Customer relationship management or what?

The latest fad being promoted by computer companies is “Customer Relationship Management”. The idea is that you use computer databases to capture what your customers buy from you so you can learn about them and thus send them offers suited to their needs. It is big news in retailing where companies are spending vast sums on the necessary computers.

This reminds me of a situation I came across while working for a restaurant chain. People in head office changed the menu – they took off ribs as a starter and replaced it with chicken wings. Unknown to the people in head office, many of the customers were local and regular users of the restaurants. Those who liked ribs as a starter were disappointed to find they were “off”, but noticed that ribs were still available as a main course. Naturally, these customers asked to have a half portion of “main course ribs” as a starter – for they knew that two ribs were a starter and four were a main course. The staff, wanting to provide good customer service obliged. But when to came to creating the bill, what were they to do? The point of sale terminal did not have a button for ribs as a starter, so staff recorded them as chicken wings; they were about the same price as ribs starters used to be.

The people in head office believed their change in the menu was a great success. What did they know? You can guess what happened to inventory – inventory was driven by the point of sale data. These people who believe computers can help us build relationships with customers are asking us to accept that computers should do what people are good at. We should not forget common sense when we are being asked to part with buckets of cash for these new ideas. Do these ideas work or are they a front for selling more computers? I think we should be told.

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Haldanes win Fife enterprise award

Haldanes, a Vanguard client in Fife Scotland, has won the Fife enterprise small business of the year award. Haldanes has been applying the principles of lean service and the consequences have been better profits and more jobs. Forrester Adam, the MD of Haldanes, will be speaking at the Lean Service Conference, October 24th.

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From Buckingham to Bologna

Small businesses in Emilia Romagna, Italy, will be using the Vanguard Guides to performance improvement. John Seddon was in Bologna last month to launch the guides. Originally written for small businesses in the UK, it is perhaps a reflection of the ‘system’ that these are not used by Business Links in the UK – Business Links are targeted by government on registrations to ISO 9000 and IiP (Investors in People). People do what you count, not necessarily what counts.