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Opportunities for Improvement Often Start with Flexible Automation

Mar 17, 2008
Too often, businesses treat customers as though they could all wear the same size shoes. Although they would never do that with products, the processes that customers need to use often have that overly uniform quality. Let's look at how this problem pervades society.

Governments, for instance, could do a better job as well by offering flexible automation. In a spirit of fairness, many benefits for citizens are doled out equally . . . regardless of need. It would be better if citizens could automatically adjust those benefits.

Here's an example: In the United States, a major retirement benefit is to receive pension payments based on the taxes paid into your Social Security account during your working years. The pension's size is also partially based on the age at which you retire.

But many people find their needs are changing. Some may retire and later decide that they've made a mistake and want to go back to work. But they cannot stop their Social Security checks from arriving and delivering taxable income. If they could suspend those payments until they permanently retire, the pension could be a lot higher when they permanently retire while taxes would be reduced in the meantime.

Others aren't very good at investing money and don't want to learn how. Some of these people would probably like to have an opportunity to put extra money into their Social Security accounts to increase their pensions.

And some people are from long-lived families and don't need pension money at the maximum retirement age. If such people are still healthy and working at the maximum retirement age, they might want to defer receiving their pension in order to increase its size after they aren't able to keep working.

Other retirees may be more concerned about avoiding long-term health care costs than having a certain sized pension. These people might want to swap part of their pension benefit for more coverage against nursing home care should they need it.

Allow everyone at their will to move benefits from what they get automatically to what they want to receive automatically, and you can probably deliver much more benefit to citizens at a lower cost. Perhaps if politicians continue to be insensitive to individual needs, entrepreneurs will find ways to allow retirees to swap for better bundles of government benefits.

Here are questions to remind you of what to focus on to properly automate your offerings and the ways you deliver them:

-What process steps should be improved before the steps are automated?

-How can automation allow you to provide even simpler, more effective offerings through improved processes?

-When and where would it make sense to encourage
beneficiaries, customers, and users to avoid automation?

-What aspects of automation should you let beneficiaries, customers, and users adjust to meet their preferences?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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