Needing a little comfort food after a rough day, I opened the website for my easy access pizza chain. Since traffic was a nightmare, I knew I’d need to take my surface street route and changed my pickup location to one on the way. In full geek fashion, I timed my arrival after reviewing Waze, adding time for traffic to build, and the distance to walk to my car. Their site has a great feature where I could specify the time I wanted to pick up my pizza on checkout. Ready, set, drive!
I arrived only 10 minutes later than planned, but it turns out traffic was the least of my problems. After waiting 15 minutes as the employees tried to help the person in front with an incomplete order, it was my turn. Name, swipe my credit card, and go, right?! Very wrong!
Here’s how it did go (abridged and evil thoughts suppressed):
Me: Hi, Hans Eckman with an Internet carry-out order.
Pizza People: Sorry, we don’t have any orders for you.
Me: Is this store location XXXX?
Pizza People: Yes.
Me: Here’s my confirmation number and order for two super yummy pizzas and desert.
Pizza People: We don’t have any order.
Me: Not ready yet or completely missing.
Pizza People: No order.
Me: OK, well here’s what I ordered online for pick-up at this location. Can you help?
Pizza People: One minute and I’ll look in the oven…. No, still nothing.
Me: I understand, but can you help me fill my order?
Pizza People: No, there is nothing we can do if we don’t have an order.
Me: OK, thanks and have a great day. I’ll just order my pizza from somewhere else.
Pizza People: OK.
I exited and checked for my pulse to make sure I had not entered purgatory. Realizing I was alive, I left pizza limbo in disbelief.
I’m sure you figured out several solutions or changes already. My business analyst readers are already thinking about comparing the user stories for the pizza app and process mapping to figure out why the order was not found at the store. Before you dive into that deep dish, realize that this is a very common people problem. We’ve trained our operations teams to follow a process step by step without exception.
From an automation standpoint, this makes sense. By standardizing a process so the lowest cost and least trained resource can do the job. But how to you create a lowest cost model without losing your customer base due to poor service?
Option 1: Fix the process and all reasonable exceptions
Rather than creating many processes and exception processes, streamline the steps into the fewest number of decisions possible. All the manager had to do was to switch their process from an app order to a store order: “I’m very sorry about the delay. If you tell me what you wanted to order, we can make it right now. It will only take 15 minutes. Can I offer you some tasty bread sticks while you wait?” (OK, the last part I added in because my mouth was watering thinking about my missing pizza order.) It’s OK if you have a process step: “Exit to human who can make a decision.” If you are a business rules junkie, this option will be the most fun.
Option 2: Robots
No, seriously, robots! The biggest threat to American workers is not offshoring, it’s machine automation. We are quickly approaching the time when machines and A.I. decision support can handle many of the jobs people are doing today. You can argue or try to fight it, but that day is coming as it did in farming and manufacturing industries. Look at your business processes, and see if a robot can follow the checkbox cheaper than a human.
Option 3: Focus on the outcome
My problem was very simple. I’m hungry and want to buy pizza from them. The outcome of every interaction should be a happy customer getting the food they want, the way they want it. If employees are taught to focus on the outcome, then they can pick the process that gets them to the right outcome. For more details on this approach, I recommend reading Switch by Dan and Chip Heath or Googling “Commander’s Intent”.
None of these options will matter if you have no feedback mechanism to find out where your processes are breaking down. To paraphrase Inside the Magic Kingdom : Seven Keys to Disney’s Success: “Customers are best heard through many ears”. Give your teams the support they need to make every customer engagement a positive one.
Now who took the last piece of pizza…