Seven Wastes of Service Industry

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Much has been written about the seven wastes identified by Taiichi Ohno within the Toyota production system, but how do these relate to a service organization? What are the seven wastes from the perspective of our customers? Maybe if we look at the experience our customers have from their point of view we will better understand the service that we offer them and be able to make improvements

Keeping Customers Satisfied

Customer Satisfaction is the key to retaining customers and to gaining new ones to grow your business. If you don’t keep your customers happy then how will you ever make your business a success? With a manufacturing company often the only interaction your customer has is with your goods; but if you are a service company then your customers have many more opportunities to find fault with what you are providing them. From answering the phone late to not knowing the answer to their query there are an almost infinite list of opportunities for something to go wrong with your customer interactions. Therefore it is vital that you understand how your customer service could fall short of customer expectations. The following are the seven wastes of service that you should endeavor to avoid at all costs if you want to retain customers and build your business.

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Delays in providing the customers with information, product, or a service may be “free” to the supplier, that is until the customer takes their business to another supplier. Delays for the customer can take many forms; from standing in queues to waiting for the service engineer.

Personally this is my most hated waste, i hate being made to queue when i know that when i actually get to be seen my service is only going to take a few minutes. I end up wasting hours of my day stood in queues or held on a phone, given the choice of paying a little more to step into an express lane I would pay every time (However an express lane is not the answer – provide the same speedy service to every customer.)


How many times have you found yourself filling in multiple forms with repeated data when you have gone to a government department, tried to book a holiday or opened a new account at your bank? Duplication is a time consuming and highly annoying waste that can drive your customers away.

Unnecessary Movement

How many times have you queued in one location to do one thing then had to join another queue or proceed to a different building or department to complete your mission? Too many organizations fail to consider the customer experience and set themselves up to satisfy internal departments causing excessive stress and time wasting on the part of their customers.

Unclear Communication

How clear are the instructions and messages that you send out to your customers? How many times in your experience have you had to fill in forms with industry jargon that you do not understand, or have you stood in the wrong queue or gone to the wrong department? Organizations must consider how clear their communications are for their customers

Incorrect Inventory

Products that are out of stock, expired; how many times have you had to “make do” with an alternative product or service because what you really wanted was not available?


Not receiving what was expected, or even not receiving anything at all.  How many times have you received defective goods or has a service not actually performed as expected?

Opportunity lost

How many times has a customer facing representative been rude to you, ignored you whilst conducting conversations with staff, been unfriendly, or just lacked basic knowledge? All of these are opportunity lost for attracting new customers or retaining current ones.


Examine each of the above with regard to your customers, how is their experience with your service, what could you do to improve their experience and retain or win them as your customers? It does not matter how good your product is, if your customers and potential customers encounter poor service when they try to interact with you they will eventually go somewhere else that has a better quality of service

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