Process Strategy

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Customer involvement refers to ways which customers become part of the process and the extent of their participation. This is particularly important if your business involves a high level of customer contact.

For example, in order to fill orders accurately and efficiently, Starbucks trains its counter clerks to call out orders to beverage makers in a particular sequence. It is even better when customers themselves can do so. Starbucks attempts to teach customers it's ordering protocol. First, it provides a "guide-to-ordering pamphlet" for customers to look over. Second, it trains clerks to repeat the order in the correct sequence for the beverage makers, which may not be how the customer presented it. This process not only makes it easier for the beverage makers, but also indirectly "trains" the customers in how to place their orders.[1]

However, customer involvement is not always the best option as there are disadvantages commonly associated with it.  For example, allowing customers to play an active role in a service process can be disruptive thereby making the process less efficient. Further, if the customer is physically present and is expects prompt delivery, managing the timing and volume of customer demands can be very difficult and challenging.

Quality measurement also becomes more difficult to manage, for example, exposing your facilities and staff to the customer may either have negative or positive quality implications. Additionally, customer involvement in processes can also mean greater expenses for your business as you will require employees with greater interpersonal skills and possibly consider revising your facility layout.

However, despite these possible disadvantages, the advantages of a more customer-focused Customer involvementprocess might increase the net value to your customer. Some customers seek active participation in and control over the service process, particularly if they will enjoy savings in both price and time. It is your job to assess whether the advantages outweigh disadvantages, judging them in terms of the competitive priorities and customer satisfaction.

More customer involvement can mean better quality, faster delivery, greater flexibility, and even lower cost. Self-service is the choice for many retailers, such as supermarkets, petrol stations and bank services.

Customer involvement can also help coordinate across the supply chain. For example, emerging technologies now allow companies to actively communicate with customers and make them partners in creating value and forecasting future demand.

[1] Taken from Krajewski, L, Ritzman, L & Malhotra, M 2010, Operations management: processes and supply chains, 9th edn, Prentice Hall, N.J.

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Operating Plan

Q.1 To what extent will customers be involved in your business from an operational point of view? Give Answer
Q.2 Taking into consideration the efficiency of your operations, what are some of the potential difficulties that may arise from customer involvement? Give Answer
Q.3 Alternatively, what are some of the potential advantages of having your customers involved in your operations? Give Answer