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Applying 5s in a Service or Transactional Process

In a Service Process, the customer is often waiting at a counter, on the other end of the phone call, walking your isles, observing your business. In a Transaction process, the customer is often visiting your website, browsing your products and services, and interacting with technology. Services and transactions interact in today’s world with growing complexity. A low customer waiting time can be a competitive advantage, increased usability with simple graphical user interfaces can be the difference between browsing and a sale.

5s is a method used in Lean Six Sigma that has been proven to add value time and time again. I will demonstrate each Step of 5s with both a Service and Transaction process.

Sort – Sort an area for what is needed, when it is needed, in just the right amount. In a Service process, we might sort products on a shelf in just the right amount to meet the customer demand for 1 week, 1 day, or less, while others can move to lower demand areas. In a transaction process, we might Sort the highest demanded products to the users main view, without any distractions to lead anywhere else but the checkout line.

Set-in-Order or Straighten is to setup an area with just the right amount of the items needed to perform the tasks in that area. For example, in a Service process, where coffee and donuts are sold, a setup area for creamer, milk, sugar, chocolate, napkins, stirrers, covers, coffee folders, straws, etc… can all be used by a customer. in a Transaction process, where an application or form is completed, fields would be structured in the order that the information would be entered.

Shine or Sweep – Now that the service or transaction area has had all the low demand or low frequency items moved so that only the high demand items are located, then we clean up the area. in a Service process, we might paint, wash the area, add lighting, clean the floors, and fix anything broken. In a Transaction process we might highlight the area the users eyes should focus, offer examples or help references, remove any clutter that can confuse a user in completing the transaction, and reduce the # of steps a transaction can take.

Standardize is to stabilize with process controls. Visual controls work great, but the best approach is Poke-Yoke, also called mistake-proofing, where the opportunity for a defect to occur has been eliminated. In a Service process, we might add labels, add wheels to make moving easier, setup a replenishment signal to restock supplies, establish a daily checklist to ensure area is to standard. In a Transaction process, we might add input masks to fields, use look-up fields for standard entry choices, use color and visual signals to increase usability.

Sustain the gains is about process control so that continuous improvement will progress versus digress in both operational and financial metrics. In a Service process a schedule and checklist is often assigned across the team, sometimes standard operating procedures are used for training, and metrics are often used with simple red, yellow, green performance scores. In a Transaction process metrics are used too, usability testing with checks following maintenance or updates that would impact a change in a transaction, and performance testing.

Safety, Service, and Security are often checked across all 5s phases. 5s in Service and transaction process save time, rework, reduces defects, less waiting, less searching, and increased sales.

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