Gemba Walk for Service Excellence 1

Do you need a fresh perspective on how to apply Gemba Walks? For starters, are you visiting the areas where your service interacts directly with the customer? Are you looking to identify new service delighters and make a lasting  positive impression on customers? Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting has written a new book, Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, that describes these types of experiences. It is heavily illustrated and includes a CD of his innovative “placemats” designed to provide stepping stones on a development path for your team to achieve a competitive advantage.

Bob is my guest next week on the Business901 podcast. Below is an excerpt from the podcast.

Joe: One of the key things that jumps out at me in your discussion, you talked just briefly about innovation. Innovation really comes from that customer experience, doesn’t it? Gemba Walks

Bob:  Apple is really interesting as we learn more about it. There is a trial going on currently with Samsung. It’s peeling back the onion giving us new information and new insights on how Apple operates, their innovation process. They’re very team orientated. When you look at innovation in service, you can’t do it in a vacuum, which is the reason why the Gemba Walk can’t be done like the old undercover boss, where the CEO goes in disguise and incognito and tries to go behind the lines and work as an employee.

That’s not a Gemba Walk. Some of the principles are similar, but Gemba Walks are done out in the open. There’s one difference. The CEO is not necessarily involved in it.

We want people to go see for themselves and come up with something new and innovative and learn from someone else, see how that could be applied to their own industry.

For example, if you’re in the healthcare business, and you’re benchmarking another healthcare, you might benchmark the Mayo Clinic or whatever it is, but who’s benchmarking the hotel industry from the healthcare? What could you learn about the customer experience through the eyes of checking in at a hotel?

I think what’s really the key about the Gemba Walk is putting you in the shoes of being the customer, and you end up feeling like you are a customer. Would you enjoy the experience that you’ve created in that service design? That’s just a question for people. What can you do to design your service system to do a better job to delight customers?

Joe:  If you’re a healthcare facility, maybe you need to take a Gemba Walk at the Ritz?

Bob: Exactly! If you think about it, they have a check?in a process, right? There’s also a check?in process at the hospital. When you go to the hospital, there’s that insurance. You’ve got to show them the insurance card; how many times is it, nine times or 10? OK, I’m just kind of jabbing them a little. How many times do you have to write down that you don’t smoke cigarettes? By the time you get down to the third floor, you’ve had to tell them you don’t smoke cigarettes 10 times by then. It’s just a question.

There’re so many opportunities to improve that experience. Being on time is another one. How long should it take to get through? How do you manage the customers’ expectations throughout the process? When you’re standing in a big, long line, the last thing, you want to do is think that you’re ignored, and that you have no earthly idea when it’s going to be your turn.

80% of Companies believe they deliver a Superior Service, only 8% of Customers agree.
-Bain Companies

Lean Service Design Trilogy: Closing the Gaps between Perception and Reality: Preview the program