Small mistakes can often lead to huge problems in the service industry, and it’s critical to maintain a high level of quality and attention to detail with every client. It should therefore be no surprise that poka-yoke is such a popular methodology in that area, and there are plenty of examples of successfully using it to reduce the error of human mistakes in the work of service professionals, leading to huge improvements in the operations of those companies over a longer term.
Simplifying Smaller Tasks
Small details tend to be the most problematic part of working in the service industry, as they can often lead to the biggest and most commonly repeated mistakes among professionals. It’s therefore important to ensure that the need for human interaction in performing those tasks is kept to an absolute minimum, and that there are sufficient safeguards in place to verify the results of each step and ensure that the job is done correctly.
For example, when servicing people as a cashier or server, it’s not rare to make small mistakes in counting change or preparing it for the customer. Implementing a system that automates this – or at least verifies the result of the worker’s execution – can therefore remove this problem, or in most cases at least reduce it significantly.
Many restaurants have adopted digital systems for their waiters for this exact reason. By simply ticking off everything on a touchscreen and reading the list from a similar device at the kitchen, the likelihood of getting an order wrong is eliminated. The same process is then repeated when loading the server’s tray, ensuring that there is no possibility of messing anything up at any step of the way.
Keeping Things in Check Behind the Scenes
It’s also important to ensure that your workers have to do a minimal amount of preparational work behind the scenes, as that can also be prone to mistakes and can lead to dissatisfaction among users, even though they don’t see exactly what the problem is. Make sure that whenever someone has to step behind the lines to get something, it’s prepared for them in a way that’s automated as much as possible. Also, get your workers to cross-check each other’s work in those areas in order to avoid making mistakes in front of the customer later on.
Modern technology can be very helpful in this part of the job too. Efficient communication is vital when you want to make sure that everything is running smoothly and with a minimal chance for operator error. To this end, you should supply your workers with devices to keep each other in touch with regards to their current task and plans, and to be able to signal everyone in case something goes wrong.
Of course, don’t overdo it in this regard, and remember that technology – and the way you use it in poka-yoke – is supposed to make things simpler, not more complicated. If you add too many safeguards, especially ones that require manual user input, this might make things more challenging for your workers, defeating the whole purpose of implementing poka-yoke in the first place.
Poke-yoke can be a very effective tool in the service industry, and it can help you make sure that mistakes are kept to a minimal level among your workers. This can not only make everyone’s jobs easier and lighter, but it can also work very well in improving the impressions of your customers, and making them see your service in the best light possible. After all, impressions are pretty much everything in this industry, and leaving a wrong one tends to have lasting implications.