TLS Continuum Part 64: What Works? The Customer Experience

In this final installment in this four part series we have reached the step, which the TLS Continuum looks at the Six Sigma segment of the process. We have to this point looked at the problem, developed our metrics and the voice of the customer, and introduced potential solutions to the organization and the stakeholders. In this final stage we now roll out the solution to the entire organization and our customer database.

The intent of this stage is two fold. The first is that we create the standard of work and we remove variations from the process. This can be achieved by utilizing two primary tools from the design side of the spectrum. The first is called customer co-creation.  Remember the intent of this process from the beginning was to become one with the customer.

 Customer Co-Creation

 The customer co-creation phase furthers that goal. It means that we take that process solution and create a prototype of its delivery and allow the customer to have a hand in the development of the process. You allow the customer and observe their reactions and process results to improve the process further.

Co-creation is delivered in three phases. It begins with enrolling customers who care about you and who you trust to tell you the reality of the process development to them and your organization. The selection of involved customers must be diverse that involves not only targeted customers but other customers as well. An additional cautionary note is that the introduction of the new process is not an opportunity to try and sell your customers ANYTHING. You are introducing this new process solution based on their needs and wishes. This is not to suggest that if you purchase this, the process will get better.  Like all improvement efforts your best results will come from starting small. Pick one customer and begin with them. When the implementation is a success roll it out to additional customers one step at a time. Give them two or there options on how to deliver the new process and let them select the one that best meets their needs. Remember in moving towards innovation and improvement you must allow the customer to see the problem and feel the problem. How was it affecting them before the solution and how will it affect them after the introduction of the process.

Another aspect of this customer co-creation is the way in which you communicate with the customers. They need to be able to see the problem. Use your storyboards and other visual tools to explain the changes. The customer should be able to view the process in real time and feel free to express their like s and dislikes with the change. The other expectation is that customer is going to expect that their thoughts and views will be used. The only way to show this is by delivering timely feedback to them as how the suggestions are utilized.

 Learning launch

 You are now at ground zero. The learning launch allows for a bridge between your efforts to date and the commercial rollout.  It provides the true test of the validity of your efforts because the customer base now has a chance to get their hands wet by using the new process on a grand scale. We learn from the mistakes and the rewards of the new process in action. Beware that this is not designed to be a short time intervention but a usage over the long haul as the customer begins to use your new process in delivering their end product or service to their clients.

It is critical at this juncture that your organization look at what you expect from the marketplace. Answer the questions regarding your intent with this solution. While you think you have reached the ideal goal what assumptions still have to be tested including the development of the process metrics. Create an in-market test plan to test those assumptions needing answers. Since this is not a pilot create a time frame and lay out your plans to the end of the launch. The launch will require the creation of the process team that is both disciplined and agile. They must be firm in a commitment to the process changes but also ready, willing and able to change paths if the process calls for additional changes.

The learning launch also requires on-ramps which layout the process map for the introduction. The key here is once again how you communicate the process to the stakeholders. Following this the launch requires a decision be made as how you go forward. It means you need to let the customer tell you what is needed to shape the new process into something you can execute to the customers of your organization.

 I have tried in the blog posts over the past four weeks to suggest to you that there is a different way to look at process improvement and innovation in your organization. If we include the concepts that the R&D and marketing people use in those steps we develop changes and innovations that truly meet the needs of the stakeholders to your organization. When we do that we increase both the bottom line and the rate of productivity of the organization. It is this air of total partnership that creates this unique working relationship we want in our use of the TLS Continuum to resolve issues pertaining to customer needs.

 Part 65 of this blog series will look at one missing item in our discussion of the TLS Continuum to date. This one factor can determine whether we are a raving success or a dismal failure in our efforts. Let me know your thoughts of these past four installments at

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