I have been reflecting on a recent experience which highlighted key principles we teach in our business improvement programmes.
I visited a local petrol station to quickly fill up with diesel on my way home. I was greeted by a friendly attendant who assisted me. I suddenly realised it was taking longer than usual and couldn’t find the attendant anywhere. I then noticed the manager walking towards me and asking if I had requested diesel or petrol. When I said diesel she walked away and I was then aware something was very wrong.
The attendant arrived back apologising that he had put in petrol and not diesel by mistake. I had two choices. Either to be upset and angry or to be grateful that he was honest and owned up to a mistake which could have damaged the engine had I turned on the car.
This is something we teach in our Lean programme – to see problems as opportunities for improvement and not to hide them.
I chose to be grateful and was appreciative that a mechanic was called to drain the fuel before any damage was done to the car and even more grateful that I didn’t break down on the side of the highway.
This experience made me reflect on what we teach in our Customer Experience training programme. I was reminded that when something goes wrong with a business process that negatively impacts a customer that how we respond and treat our customers can turn a bad experience into a positive one. The manager and attendant were so apologetic. They checked on me often as I waited for the mechanic, made me hot chocolate and offered to call an uber.
It also made me think of why error-proofing a process can avoid costly and disastrous mistakes that result in wasteful activities. Human errors happen but a misfuel prevention device could have alerted the attendant before it was too late.
If you would like to learn more, join Tanya Hulse at our next online Lean Forum. Tanya will discuss principles of error-proofing and share simple, practical examples to get you thinking about how to eliminate the ‘silly mistakes’ that cause so many problems in your business.
Sarah Giles is the Business Development Manager at Training Leadership Consulting and a facilitator of the TLC Customer Experience programme. Her exposure to customer experience through managing client relationships with TLC’s top clients over the past 12 years, has inspired her to apply and teach customer experience thinking.