Lean Office

Credit Suisse Does Gemba Research

By Jon Miller Published on June 25th, 2006

An article in this month’s Fast Company magazine asks Talk to Our Customers? Are You Crazy? The approach Credit Suisse is taking to understand the problems with their products and processes is basically research by going to the gemba.
This genchi gembutsu approach at Credit Suisse is challenging the assumption that executives in their suites can adequately know what customers want using reports, surveys or simply the belief that they know their customers well.
They have shown in fact that executives often do not know what the customers think about their company and their products because they are removed from the reality (genjitsu) of how the customers use their products and services (gembutsu) at the banks, ATMs and websites (genchi or gemba).
As a result of giving executives a few hours on the gemba to learn how to observe processes, talk to customers, and go through the customer experience themselves Credit Suisse is finding many process redesign projects that we would call kaizen. These include reducing wait times in ban queues, making clearer account statements, or simplifying application forms.
David McQuillen, who is responsible for taking Credit Suisse executives to the gemba on his “experience immersion” trips says “You can do this stuff in two or three days. You don’t have to spend half a million dollars on research. Just go and observe.” Amen.

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