Six Sigma tool SIPOC Plus the Customer Experience

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 2, 2017

shutterstock_277372325The Six Sigma tool SIPOC (supplier, input, process, output, customer) is a powerful business tool in the process improvement toolbox.  I have used it for over two decades to help organizations map their current processes – and to improve them.

However, in the last few years, I’ve been adding another element – the customer experience – to the SIPOC.  You see, the SIPOC is a producer-centric model used to make the process more efficient and effective, making sure that each step in the process adds value to the customer.

Yet there is another dimension we should consider as we are improving our processes – what do you, the supplier, want the customer to “experience” during that transaction?  Do you want them to feel happy, excited, delighted?  Well-taken care of, appreciated, pampered?  Or should the process be completely invisible or “hassle-free” to the customer?  Let’s build these emotions into the process!

For example, at a retail establishment in Scottsdale, Arizona in July when the temperatures are soaring above a hundred degrees, I am always delighted to be asked if I’d like some ice-cold water when I walk in the door.  In order to delight me, you need to build into your processes the ability to have the chilled water relatively close to the door.

So here is where process design comes into play.  There are all kinds of ways of offering water to a customer:  Is it in a glass?  A bottle?  Where is it kept chilled?  How will you hand them the water?  So you build in (I like to use the metaphor of “baking it in”) to your process.

It’s also important to design the process to be consistent with your brand.  A high-end establishment handed me a water bottle that was soaking wet with a hand-pasted label that said, “Glad to work with you!”  I was less than thrilled because it didn’t match my expectations for that particular establishment!

As you improve your process, don’t forget the emotions it generates in the hearts and minds of your customers.  So rather than doing a SIPOC, try doing a SIPOCE – and think about the customer experience as well.

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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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