It’s Not That We’re Worse…


    The Middle Seat –

    Quick story here, not so much about Lean but about customer service and general incompetence. The WSJ shares data about how complaints about the Transportation Security Administration have jumped:

    “Complaints to the TSA about security courtesy, procedures, processing time and personal property fell sharply during the first five months of the year, but began climbing in June, with a 9.2% jump in the total number of complaints, compared with June 2006. By August, total service complaints were 88.1% higher than a year earlier, and September, the most recent month reported by the government, saw a 71.4% increase in TSA complaints.”

    That might seem to be a clear indicator that service has gotten really bad. Not so, says the TSA leadership. You see, in the past they weren't even able to count or track all complaints properly… so instead of complaints going up, what you really have is just better tracking. So hurray for the TSA?

    “The TSA concedes it was missing and underreporting complaints in the past, with travelers either frustrated at getting busy signals on phone lines (1-866-289-9673) and never recording a complaint, or emails ( not being properly handled. The numbers suggest the TSA was missing a very large chunk of complaints.”

    The TSA has a new “customer service” center with better software for tracking these problems and complaints. That's not really getting to the root cause of the poor attitudes and the cause of the complaints, is it?

    I guess there is a parallel to manufacturing, if your scrap or defect rate went up, only because you weren't inspecting products at the end of the line or tracking defects before? Maybe the surest path to “zero defects” or Six Sigma quality levels is to not count or track it!!! :-)

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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