Take a closer look

While it’s common to try to improve the processes in our businesses or organizations it’s important to take a look at the whole picture before finding the best methodology.

If we use a hotels registration process as our example, a person could try to streamline the process by looking, step by step at the registration process. The problem with this is it deals with the registration process and NOT the real issue which is the user experience of the customer. I, as the customer, don’t really care what the best process is for the hotel clerk. To me, the thing that is important is being able to register quickly, quietly and without any hassle. Earlier this year I stayed at a hotel which I had paid for online. To check in, all I had to do was swipe my credit card through their automated system and it produced the key, the room number and the receipt. While there was a person there to assist if needed, in my case, within 30 seconds of walking in the door, I had my key and room and was headed toward the elevator. Contrast that with the more typical experience where I have to wait in line for the clerk to finish with someone else and then they manually do the exact same thing that was accomplished by this machine. This hotel with the automated machine didn’t improve the process, they changed it completely. The key is if someone didn’t want to use the new method, or couldn’t figure out how to, they had the option to use the old method (but it would take longer)

Another example would be to look at the restaurant industry. At most sit down restaurants a similar methodology is used. We get seated and are given menus. A server tells us the specials and then takes our order. The server then enters the order into a point of sale system and the order gets sent to the kitchen. The kitchen prepares the food and then the server deliver the food to the table. Occasionally the servers will stop by the table to see if anything else is needed and when ready they bring the check. Payment is given to the server who then returns either with the credit card or with change. Is that really the best process? If I know what I want, why do I need to hear the specials? (I admit it, I tend to always order the same thing at the same restaurants so am less prone to try the special than others might be). Given the option, I would rather there be a tablet on the table so I can place my order electronically (and this tablet could also show the specials) and it goes straight to the kitchen. The kitchen staff would prepare the food and the server could deliver the order to the table. If I needed something (a refill, condiments etc) I could press a button on the tablet to notify I need something. When I’m done, I could pay via the tablet and be done. This would eliminate numerous steps and allow me to order and pay when I’m ready (this past summer I was having lunch with someone and he complained that he was being held “hostage” because he was ready to leave and we didn’t have the check yet, his problem wasn’t not wanting to pay but rather wanting to pay when he was ready and not when the server was ready). If a person didn’t want to use this technology, they would be given the option of a more traditional server.

In your industry, if you were to really take a closer look at the way things are done, would you be looking at improving your current process or would you be changing the process completely?

Have a great day!

Lawrence

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