When we consider customer value, we should be aware that this can be quite a subtle concept and that it can vary for the same customer at different times.
The customer sets the ideal value.
We should be familiar with this. If the customer wants it fast, then get it to him as fast as possible. If the customer wants it cheap then do it. The internal workings of a company mean nothing to the customer. They really don’t care about targets for Average Handle Time for calls in a call centre or utilisation of servers or the cost of desk space. They just want the service or product they asked for at the right time and price.
But we should wait a moment before throwing our processes and our system on their heads to give the customer what they want. Ideal value is a changeable thing even for the same customer.
When doing a bit of DIY, trying to level a floor in my flat, I sawed through a central heating pipe. What was my ideal value for the service from the plumber? GET HERE NOW! I have my finger on the pipe and the water is going through the ceiling below.
Last month I phoned the same plumber to get my boiler serviced. Ideal value? Convenience of the appointment. I am home Tuesday, but not Wednesday and could do Thursday morning.
Most of the times I buy a book from Amazon I like the free delivery option. I don’t care that it takes a few more days to get here. It is a book. What is the rush? Ideal value? Low cost of shipping.
But the other day I had to buy a birthday present at very short notice. (I didn’t forget, I just couldn’t think of anything until the last minute!) So I ordered from Amazon and was happy to pay the extra for the next day guaranteed delivery. Ideal value? Don’t look like a chump with no birthday present to give.
So we need to revise our statement above and say:
The customer sets the ideal value at the time of request.
This is a reminder that your system needs to be able to absorb variety and standardised work will interfere with that.