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The 5 Deadly Sources of Waste in Services


Counting defective parts may be an easy way to measure waste in the manufacturing industry. But when it comes to services, the continuous improvement practitioner often encounters two challenges. Firstly, it is hard to define waste in certain processes. For example, what is waste in the eyes of an anxious fan waiting for the show to begin? What is waste in the eyes of a patient waiting to see a doctor? Secondly, once waste has been identified, what is the metric that truly portraits such a waste? Let’s consider the following 5 deadly sources of waste commonly found in the services industry but not often dealt with properly. Are these sources of waste leading your organization to customer dissatisfaction, product returns, and loss of brand reputation?

1. Waiting: on the phone, in line, for the product to arrive, for the supervisor to approve, for the flight to board. In today’s fast pace environment, waiting not only causes financial loss to both customers and organizations but also creates anxiety, frustration, and stress upon your stakeholders.

2. Searching: for the right file, for that piece of information, for the parking lot, for the expired contract. Searching, in most cases, can be a product of lack of training and/or lack of workplace organization. Searching files and spending hours on the phone with the customer may be the result of a poorly managed and disorganized work environment (hint: 5S program).

3. Bad Customer Service: have you ever considered the number of customers that you may have lost due to the fact that your front line employees are just grumpy? Has your organization reimbursed customers because your office personnel did not communicate effectively with the employee assigned for the job?

4. Redundancy: reworking the same Excel spreadsheet over and over again, contacting the customer multiple times to discuss the same problem and offer the same solution, collecting 7 approvals for a low budgeted item. We all cost extra money (to the organization and ourselves) when the work has to be done twice (or three, four times).

5. Meetings: How many are really necessary? How many truly produces an outcome that is value-added to the organization? How much money is your organization spending on GoToMeetings, Webex, and muffins? Lean organizations should start to let go of the rituals set 25 years ago.

These sources of waste can add up quickly to your processes and may be hindering employee morale, service quality, and brand reputation. Whilst it’s easier to identify and measure tangible wastes, it is important that Lean organizations be aware of potential sources of hidden wastes.

EZSigma Group is Canada’s leader in Lean Six Sigma. We offer a vast array of services that will help your organization to achieve a new level of excellence. Please contact us for further information about our programs.