Great Western Bank uses Kaizen to bolster efficiency, one step at a time

Financial institutions are often characterized by their perceived inefficiency and red tape. Customers are frequently frustrated by having to wait in long lines to take care of the seemingly easiest of tasks, whether it's opening an account or making a deposit.

Great Western Bank heard its customers' complaints and is in the process of applying Kaizen to help improve the overall banking experience. For example, in the past, it took 34 steps to open a checking account at the financial institution. Now, it takes only 24. It's a small step in the direction toward continuous improvement, and Great Western is currently analyzing each action and evaluating ways to get better.

“By improving our process, we provide better service at a lower cost,” Ken Karels, the bank's CEO, told the Argus Leader. “And it's imperative for us to be a survivor in the financial industry that we do that as quickly as possible.”

Businesses should remember that Kaizen isn't just a strategy to reduce their own costs – it can also improve other elements of operations, such as the customer experience.