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Poka Yoke in the service sector

by Chris Turley

The power of error proofing in the service sector

Poka Yoke is a term most widely associated with manufacturing however the concepts are fully applicable in any business where processes exist i.e. all businesses.
The goal of Operational Excellence, is applicable across all business, and while manufacturers primarily consider errors made by the manufacturing process, service providers need to protect against errors made by both them and their customer. And they face a different set of potential issues resulting from their interfaces with their customers.

As a result there are 2 types of service Poka Yoke:
• Service Provider (SP)
• Customer

Service Provider Poka Yoke
There are 3 methods to protect the SP:
• Task
• Treatment
• Tangible

Task
Focus on SP tasks and common mistakes made while performing the task for the customer.
(i.e. automated change machine)
Treatment
Focus on the social interaction between the customer and the SP . Standardising how staff  interact with customers controls consistency
(i.e. body language, eye contact and greeting)
Tangible
Address the real, physical impression and experience for the customer as well as considering staff tasks. Standardising the environment controls the impression made on customers and simplifies staff tasks.
(i.e., dirty or untidy work area or staff)

Customer Poka Yoke
There are 3 methods to protect the customer:
• Preparation
• Encounter
• Resolution

Preparation
Are designed to fully prepare the customer before they enter the service. (i.e. appointment reminder cards)
Encounter
Protect the customer who may misunderstand, ignore, or forget the nature of the service or their role in it. (i.e. guide rails or route barriers)

Resolution
Remind customers of the value of their input to the continuous improvement of a service. The key is willing customer participation. (i.e. customer feedback form or survey)

Examples at work in the service sector:

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