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Over recent years, the Six Sigma methodology has been both brought into and recognised by more of the world’s leading companies and authorities than ever before. Pioneered first three decades ago by Motorola, a variety of other big names have since joined the Six Sigma training list including the likes of Ford, GM and many more.
However, one industry that has proved much more resistant to join up is the service sector. The reason being that the service industry is generally more about manpower and the human touch than about manufacturing and production of any given products, which in turn bred the misconception that Six Sigma wasn’t suited to the sector as a whole. Having long been regarded as something of a manufacturing tool, Six Sigma certification was comparatively rarely sought by those in the service industry, though it’s now clear that they may have been doing themselves a disservice by doing so.
Recent studies have proved conclusively that when and where companies in the service sector implement Six Sigma training, they make enormous savings and improvements to their output. Despite the fact that the methodology does rely heavily on metrics while the service industry operates quite to the contrary, the same principles apply. It may be some time before the majority of service sector players join the Six Sigma way of approaching their way of doing business, but the sooner the message gets out, the better their performance will be.
In specifics, Lean Six Sigma courses can help by allowing for a more detailed look into the quality and provision of customer service, any areas in which the business can be expanded and generally optimising the efficiency of standard service sector procedures and processes. Of key importance in all areas of the service sector are marketing, sales, human resources and control of finances – all of which call for soft skills covered and deepened with Six Sigma training courses.
The only way for any business to improve its performance and build a stronger, more efficient future is to take a look at its current operations and establish where and why any errors are being made. This represents the core of the Six Sigma define-measure-improve-analyse-control method, or the DMIAC method, wherein problems are first sought and defined, then addressed and analysed to ensure their eradication and banishment. The service sector is far from excluded from the benefits to this particular approach to business and operations improvement.
Another area in which Six Sigma training can help a service industry business is in marketing and sales. The methodology follows the principle that there’s often an imbalance between the time a business spends analysing and quantifying sales tactics and that spent in face-to-face meetings with prospective clients and customers. The Six Sigma approach is to optimise sales and marketing in order to ensure that all time and money invested in the process pays off at a much greater rate and faster.
So while it’s inevitable that for the time being at least Six Sigma will continue to be associated primarily with the manufacturing sector, it’s impossible to ignore it’s proven its potential in other industry areas.