Skip to main content

Is there any principle more core to the heart of lean than relentlessly focusing on the customer? How many companies have strayed from customer focus as their strategic North Star? Who cannot tell at least one story of poor customer service, irritating chatboxes, painful refund processes, inept after-sales services and the rest? Surveys confirm every year that billions are lost in poor customer services. Losing sight of the customer has certainly allowed many former tenants of a trade to expose themselves to major disruptions of the type shown in the video on clean disruption by Tony Seba, that shows how cars replaced horses in New York in the course of 13 years. Both short and long term enduring lean success are rooted in a customer-focused lean strategy.

The following collection of short pieces argues persuasively for elevating your customer focus as the heart of lean strategy. Rose shares a great illustration of how you may drain your resources changing things that on the surface seem critical, but in your customers’ world, make zero difference. Lucy reflects on the vital components of a lean strategy, starting with a customer focused CEO and vertical and horizontal alignment.

Sandrine reminds us of the dangers of “big company disease” and how Value Analysis – Value Engineering (VA-VE) can help those companies affected by the symptoms. Neglecting the customer can expose your company to missing out on key short and long term changes in the market. Catherine asks whether any company be lean without being customer obsessed, and provides real life examples showing how customer obsession is a necessary condition to sustainable growth.

Jean relates customer focus to its effect on our P&L and Balance Sheet, through what she describes as the 5 economic levers. Anne Lise challenges us to confirm whether you really have customers on your mind; and warns against the risk of optimizing your own processes rather than boosting value for the customer.

And Cécile concludes the review with 3 simple lean markers: do the right thing and do it right, sell one – make one, and stay in touch.

Read the full Lean Post article here.