Rigid process can hamper customer experience
by Ali Carmichael, Managing Director and Owner

Rigid process can hamper customer experience

One of our major supermarkets does a great pizza, which they make for you whilst you wait. I must say, they do taste good. If you order your pizza at the beginning of your shop, ten minutes later when you’ve picked up your other groceries, it is ready to take away. It has won awards.

I was a little miffed on Friday evening when I had to wait forty minutes for my pizza. Here’s what happened:

On ordering my pizza the young lady informed me that she was on her own so it may not be ready for twenty minutes. Excellent! I’ve been informed about the extra time, and although it is inconvenient I look through the magazine and book department. However, when I return after twenty minutes my pizza is not ready. The poor girl is working through a long list of pizzas, with a queue of people waiting and ordering more.

The employee experience is an important aspect of customer experience

Whilst the pizza backlog grew, two other employees are working at the same counter, but on cooked chickens and Indian/Chinese take away. There are no queues for these offerings, yet the two members of staff have a joke, pack up some chicken, go out back, come back again, pack a couple more chickens, and serve the odd customer. Not once, in the twenty minutes I waited, did I see them look to the poor pizza girl, let alone offer to help out. I got quite angry at this.
When I finally got my pizza I assured the girl that she had done a great job, little good it did her, and paid for my groceries. On leaving I visited the customer services desk to complain and stand up for the girl on the pizza counter. The lady informed me that the other two staff were unable to help out on pizza due to health and safety. On realising how daft this sounded she phoned through to a manager. After a five minute conversation I was informed that the chicken must be closed down before any help can be supplied to the pizza counter. I gave up!

Business process can remove common sense thinking

The help of one member of staff for fifteen minutes would have reduced the backlog and the queue. So the internal process looks to be wrong as employees stick to the process rather than helping their customers.
This can happen with rigid process. Employees do not see things from another point of view because they are blinkered by process. I’m not sure why the Managers didn’t do anything about it. But then I didn’t see any managers. Maybe they were following a process out the back?

Process is good, but it must allow for flexibility to ensure common sense prevails. Especially when good customers experience is at risk. By simply ensuring the process includes some thought provoking questions like:

  • Is there a problem here?
  • What do I need to do to resolve the problem?
  • If this was my company, what would I do differently?

These questions provide the opportunity for all employees to step outside the process to think for themselves.

Does your internal process ensure an excellent experience for your customers?


UX Consultant Emma Peters

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