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ISO Consultants Directory by Kennedy Smith Six Sigma, the quality improvement methodology made famous by Motorola in the s, has garnered much-deserved recognition in the last few years as more and more companies swear by its effectiveness in improving their bottom lines.
Improving Customer Service with Six Sigma It may sound odd to hear accolades of Six Sigma methodology coming from a service, not a manufacturing, industry.
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It only takes a glance at the long list of manufacturers --Ford Motor Co. Many organizations, however, have taken a look at Six Sigma's track record and surmised that it won't work for them. Because Six Sigma was developed in and for a manufacturing environment; so, how would it apply to a nonmanufacturing environment?
Organizations such as financial service providers, health care systems and educational facilities are asking this question. Others have gone so far as to take that leap toward Six Sigma and have witnessed the results first-hand.
Often referred to as "transactional Six Sigma," the methodology is proving to be a useful tool in environments that focus more on people and less on product.
One of the major hurdles service organizations must overcome is the notion that, because their company is human-driven, there are no defects to measure. This is wrong, say the experts. However, human resources are core to service companies.
Where are the numbers? Another hurdle that must be jumped is the fear of metrics. This can lead to firefighting common-cause variability issues as though they were special-cause. When one of these charts identifies an in-control or predictable process that isn't capable of consistently producing a desired level of response, we can 'pull' for the creation of a Six Sigma project to improve the process.
This is much better than 'pushing' projects that have questionable value into a Six Sigma system. All work is a process, all processes have variability and all processes create data that explains variability. For example, if you were to apply Six Sigma to a company that provides housekeeping services, you must first understand what the work process involves.
Using Six Sigma's definemeasure-analyze-improve-control method, a housekeeping service company can implement quality: Because Six Sigma is aimed at reducing defects, the first step is to figure out what a defect would be. For example, the company may decide that leaving streaks on the windows is a defect because it is a source of customer dissatisfaction.
The next step is to collect data to find out why, how, and how often this defect occurs. This might include a process flow map of where employees start and finish cleaning houses.
Other metrics may include recording what products and tools the employees use to clean the houses. After the data is measured, the company's Six Sigma team realizes that a particular employee is better at cleaning windows than the other employees.
The team implements that employee's process as a standard way of cleaning windows.
The company teaches new employees the correct technique to wash the windows. Over time, there's significant improvement in customer satisfaction and increased business. It may have taken the Six Sigma team one or two brainstorming sessions to clearly define its process, but the DMIAC model remains the same for housekeeping services as it is for a window manufacturer.
Convincing the service industry Convincing the service industry of Six Sigma's benefits is a major challenge.
As noted before, many companies still conform to the idea that the methodology is only for manufacturing. An effective way to convince a service organization to implement transactional Six Sigma is to show relevant examples.
The following case studies can be found in Schleusener's paper "Jet Engines and Sales: Does wining and dining prospective customers lead to sales? The conventional wisdom of a product sales team is that such entertaining is necessary to close the deal.
But, a Six Sigma project that examined sales data found that although face time with customers is important, wining and dining is not. The data showed that regular face time helped close sales, but that time could be spent over a cup of coffee instead of golfing at a resort.
In addition, the data showed that too much face time with customers is counter-productive.And their quality is top notch. That’s why our impressive Templates for PowerPoint product line won the Standing Ovation Award for “Best PowerPoint Templates” from Presentations Magazine.
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