James P. Womack identifies this as a place to improve in Lean Solutions with Daniel Jones. We don’t want to lose customers by keeping them waiting. Consider this: “If we had to pay our customers for the time they wait to get what they want from us, would we find ways to do things better ?” Quite a concept! Urging employees to work faster often only leads to errors or ‘rushing’ the service delivery to hit some time-limited target. Often these systems lead to cutting off the call to hit the time target but not satisfying the customer. This causes the customer to call back and full up the queue. People start leaving the queue when the wait times get too long. John Seddon of Vanguard Consulting calls this ‘creating failure demand’. Womack has a 4-step process to reduce wait time for customers – it could be used in quite a variety of situations: Step 1: Determine what the customer wants before they come in Step 2: Pre-diagnose the problem whenever possible – follows Step 1 and helps you service the customer much more efficiently when they arrive Step 3: Smooth out customer demand – if they don’t have to be done in batches, put them through as they arrive Step 4: Find a way to create streams of service: One stream of simple tasks that are predictable and a second stream of more complicated, les predictable tasks. These ideas will may spark some thinking about ways to reduce wait time for your customers – internal and external. All of your efforts will pay you a surprising return on your investment!