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Lean Consumption – the new way to happy customers

As I’ve written in several blogs on customer service, getting and keeping happy customers isn’t rocket science. Unfortunately, it seems to be a challenge for many organisations.

Given it takes a lot less effort and money to keep your existing customers than to find new ones, it makes much more sense to set up your business to ensure they have the best experience with you so they stay with you (and hopefully buy more from you and tell lots of other people how amazing you are!).

To that end, I give you – lean consumption. Not a summer diet…

Lean consumption has evolved from lean principles. What are those you ask?

Lean principles were originally developed for manufacturing processes and work on understanding customer value and focusing on your key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal of lean is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. i.e. do everything as efficiently as possible keeping the customer in mind at all times.

Lean Consumption explained

Lean consumption takes it a step further. It’s all about making sure the customer is able to access you in the easiest way possible, getting the information they need, in the ways they want to and at the time they want to contact you.

How many times are you frustrated by organisations who structure their businesses to suit them? For example, there’s no phone number and you can’t speak to them, or they don’t provide a service at the weekend when it’s the only time you may have to sort out things outside of work? Or they offer an online chat service, but then there’s no-one available to ‘chat’ to you just then, or they don’t have sufficient knowledge to help you? Or have online ‘help’ manuals that are impossible to navigate, or worse still, they send you off to their customer forums where no-one else seems to have quite the same problem you’re having?

Key principles of Lean Consumption

Lean consumption is all about trying to eliminate these issues and the key principles are:

  1. Solve the customer’s problem completely by ensuring that all the goods and services work, and work together.
  2. Don’t waste the customer’s time.
  3. Provide exactly what the customer wants.
  4. Provide what’s wanted exactly where it’s wanted.
  5. Provide what’s wanted where it’s wanted exactly when it’s wanted.
  6. Continually combine solutions to reduce the customer’s time and hassle.

It’s all about good process and systems. Words which bring joy to my heart, being as I am, the process queen.

Customer issues

The biggest issue for me is when I first buy something is to work out how to use it. I just want to get up to speed as soon as possible. My mother, for example, has just bought a new iPhone and has had all sorts of problems getting it to sync to her old iPad. It ended up being easier for her to buy a new iPad than to sort out the problems with the old one. Which is utterly ridiculous!

I’ve just downloaded Adobe InDesign and half the icons are missing that were there on the training course I’ve been on. It’s taken me a lot of effort to find out how to locate them because the help files don’t tell you and I’ve had to go back to the training company to help me. And the best they could do was to point me at an article they found. Problem solved, but I wasted a lot of time and bit the table a few times in frustration before I got there.

Companies who get it right

Enlightened organisations such as Fujitsu, try to bypass this by developing processes and systems that seek to actively help new purchasers get up the learning power curve from the outset. And rather than telling people how to solve problems or give them a workaround which most customer support services aim to do, they go to the source of the problem to eliminate it. One example was an issue with printer connectivity that a lot of people were having. There was a workaround, but what they did was replace all the printers that were causing the problem with ones that didn’t. Problem solved, which meant happy customers and a reduced number of calls to the helpline.

An example in the article, ‘Lean Consumption’ by the Harvard Business Review, is a car repair service company who changed several areas of their operation resulting in a reduction in cost to the company of a typical repair by 30%.

They did this by:

  • Pre-diagnosing every car repair whenever possible
  • Scheduling to eliminate queues.
  • Standardising repair processes and
  • Introducing other lean practices.

All of which meant they removed many wasteful steps, increased the speed at which customers and vehicles moved through the system (and of course reduced the cost of the repair).

The big argument against lean consumption/customer success is that surely it will cost a lot more money?  Well, actually it saves you money if done properly (see car repair company above). And you get customers who absolutely love you and will rave about you.

How do you implement lean consumption in your business?

  • You start by mapping out all your processes. This includes pre-sale activities, on-boarding to annual reviews and upselling. Essentially any time you have an interaction with a customer.
  • Speak to your customers about what you can do to improve their experience with you
  • Speak to customers who have left you to find out why they left and to see if there was anything you could have done differently to keep them.
  • Review your processes and systems to see how you might be able to change them to improve the experience for the customer.
  • Review your products and services to see if there are better ways to structure them that deliver more value to your customers or solve their problems better.
  • Look at what systems may be able to help you do this.
  • Train your staff regularly– making sure you have a manual for this is how we do things around here.
  • Train your staff on customer excellence, not just customer service. What additional things will you allow them to do to delight a customer?

Have you implemented any changes that resulted in fantastic results for your customers and that made your life easier too? Please let us know what you’ve done.

If you need help with mapping your processes and improving efficiencies – I can help. Please feel free to get in touch to organise a time for a chat (karen@thechameleonguide.com)

You may be interested in these other blogs on customer service:

Ask not what your customer can do for you, ask what you can do for your customer

How to sell the way your customers want to buy

Do you know how much more business you could get from your customers?

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.