A service-centered view is inherently customer oriented and relational.
– One of the ten foundational principles of SD-Logic
When asked, most organizations will say they are customer centered and/or service centered. However, many of us have a problem even defining what that means and as a result putting it into actual practice. In The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing edited by Robert Lusch and Stephen Vargo, they present the case to use SD-Logic as a foundation for this thinking. This theory has been extended in a recent book, Value & Worth: Creating New Markets in the Digital Economy, that I highly recommend. Understanding value from this point of view is the best method for creating demand and open areas for innovation that I have found. Using a SIPOC in conjunction with SD-Logic thinking offers the first step in the process.
Most Service-Centered or Customer-Centered organizations or those aspiring to be one, try to continuously improve their process. Improvement starts with determining current state, reality. An excellent approach and one many are familiar with is the SIPOC Diagram SIPOC (Suppliers – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customers). The SIPOC offers a high level view of the process and I always recommend using before the mapping process begins. It is a very good tool to identify current state. A quick overview of the process:
- Determine your product/service families or your Value Stream.
- Define the segment of the value stream that you will be mapping.
- Form your Value Stream Team
- Physically walk the path of the process documenting process steps (walk the Gemba).
- Create your current state (as is) value stream map through illustration and data.
- Revisit Gemba analyzing and reflecting on current state.
- Reach agreement on current state.
- If you cannot arrive at an agreement on current state, repeat step 6 – revisit Gemba.
I enjoy using Dr. Deming’s process flow diagram to exhibit and give a visual of the flow of the SIPOC. They are very compatible to each other.
We improve and improve and improve. This is process improvement at its best. However, what is customer centered about this? Or for that matter, service centered? Incorporating feedback from a customer does not make you customer centered, does it? What makes you customer centered is moving the customer to the center. What if you started your SIPOC with the customer at the center? How would you benefit?
If we want to be customer centered, it means that we need to look at how our decision affects our customers and their well-being. The SIPOC description above is for a Business to Business (B2B) environment. The same thought process holds true in Business to Consumer (B2C). When we start looking at the outputs of our customers and the needs, assets and dynamics of our customer’s customers, it will allow us to see what we do with a fresh set of eyes. It allows us to react differently by redesigning and reframing our processes to a customer/service-centered view. A customer oriented and relational SIPOC is one big step towards Service Dominant Thinking.
The real impact of this thought process is it creates a path to where true innovation and demand are found. It is through extending our eyes to our customer’s horizon; to the edge of not what we do, but to the edge of what they do. Below is a PDF download for you to play with. However to complete it, you will have to go Gemba and more than likely further from what you can see from your desk.
Looking for a starting point for iterative service design, consider purchasing the Marketing with Lean Book Series and receiving access to the online Lean Service Design Training at no additional charge.