Our new area of practice is also to share a new passion of mine, lean consumption. No, it isn't about dieting (although I do enough of that!). The term was coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, notably in their book Lean Solutions (2015). When I read their work, it struck a chord -- or should I say, it hit my last nerve? One of my biggest pet peeves is more than a peeve, it's a vexed fixation! How bad has customer service become? When did we reach the tipping point when technology and efficiency made it harder to conduct business, particularly with service providers?
Sad to say, I think it was when lean concepts became mainstream tenets for service providers. Reducing waste (e.g., overproduction, excess handling, errors, waiting time) is a wonderful pursuit. What seems to have happened, though, is sub-optimization (another peeve of mine). Such efforts have seemed to stop short of the customer experience. An automated audio response system may reduce call handling for the provider, but increase frustration and wasted time for the consumer. Speaking of wasted time, how about waiting for a home delivery? Or waiting to see a physician? The service provider's time is not being wasted, that is for sure!
As Womack and Jones (2015) suggest, customers can work with providers to create value and reduce waste together. If you make it easy for me to do business with you, I might buy more, stay loyal, and make referrals. In the world of e-commerce, lean consumption is related to the idea of "frictionless" purchases; think of amazon.com's "One-Click" buying. It doesn't get easier than that.
So stay tuned for more posts on examples, both good and bad, advice (hopefully good), and practical implications of academic research. I'll try not to keep you waiting!