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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Looking at Service in the Terms of Cycle Time

Total Cycle Time is the actual time elapsed from when a customer expresses a need for a product until customer's need is satisfied. It includes all the time spend by managers in directing the business, by office personnel in handling and processing the paperwork, by engineers in creating and developing new products and technologies, by direct labor in manufacturing the products, and by marketing and sales staff in generating customer interest in the products. It also includes all wait time; i.e., queue and transport time.

The easiest way to conceptualize Total Cycle Time is to think of a stopwatch in the hands of a customer. Imagine that at the very moment a customer describes a need or desire for a product to any customer representative, that customer presses the button to start the stopwatch. It continues to run until the time the customer receives the product, determines that the product is usable, and sends payment to company.  When the company receives payment, the customer pushes the button to stop the watch. The amount of time recorded on the stopwatch is the Total Cycle Time.

We tend to think of cycle time only as the time that our department or function works on a product. Furthermore, we do not usually count the time that the product just sits and nothing is being done to it at all by anyone. The customer's stopwatch keeps ticking through all the work functions and the wait time.

We realize in today's highly competitive market we cannot survive without creating a strong company culture focused on the customer. Customers demand quality service, attention on the spot, and commitment to solving problems if things go wrong.

If we are not taking care of our customers, we will not be competitive today and beyond.

Some of our existing processes might require a great deal of coordination among departments. Every time there is a hand-off from one department to another, there is a chance for a mistake that can make a negative impression on customers.

One term frequently heard in discussing cycle time is cycle of service. A cycle of service is defined as a complete sequence of events the customer experiences in getting his or her needs met. It starts wit the first moment of truth and continues through a series of related moments of truth until the customer is satisfied with the result and requests products and services again.

Looking at service in terms of a cycle of service is really looking at it from the customer's point of view, not the organization's.  The customer doesn't care about the internal silos, segregation of functions in a business to the point where there is little or no communication between functions. The only thing that matters to the customer is getting his or her needs met.

Analyzing and streamlining our processes are excellent ways for us to think in customer-first terms.

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