Monthly Archives: August 2010

How Do You Deal With Service Problems?

If your customers are unhappy with your service or quality, how do you deal with it?

During my wife’s pregnancy, she craved burgers and onion rings from a large chain that sells gourmet burgers.  She was very specific on what she wanted – plain, very well done with no pink, blue cheese, and cut down the middle to ensure it is doneInstead of the normal fries, she always wanted the onion rings.  I would call ahead and fetch the food to bring home.

I can think of six times in the nine months where the order was wrong.  One of the elements she required usually did not make it into our to-go box. 

After the first few times of arriving home with a wrong order, I began opening up all of my boxes in the restaurant to inspect and still found errors.  I began prefacing my call-in to tell the person the common problems I have experienced and still did not get the right thing.

Why did I keep going back?  The management apologized profusely and always gave me my food for free.  As a customer, I know the company will always take care of me.  This is a plus for them.

On the flip side, what else could the burger joint do to handle problems?  If they were committed to continuous improvement, they could use the event of paying for someone’s meal as an opportunity to ensure the problem never happens again. 

  • The manager could have a chef hand out the free gift card for a non-well-done burger to help them see what the customer is experiencing.  This will help gain committment for change.
  • For the times when the person taking the order over the phone did not put in the substitute for onion rings, the leader can work with the person to identify what caused the problem (maybe entry screen is unclear or inoperable, maybe the process is to just verbalize the substitution to the chef). 

Do you think real-time problem solving can be done in a high-volume restaurant or is the immediate counter-measure of giving food for free the best they can do?

Keep on improving!

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Fire At Will!

I have been reading the excellent book ON THE MEND about ThedaCare’s Lean journey.  The authors talk about the importance of having a burning platform to drive change since the clearest way to get someone to jump into the water is to burn the platform.

I started to think about what happens when an organization takes this concept too far and begins to torch the entire field and surrounding buildings.   Everybody thinks their platform is the one that should be lit and nobody is controlling the distribution of matches, lighters, or moltov cocktails.  Here are some of the results:

  • SMOKE FILLS AREA: Direction becomes unclear.  People can not see where they are headed. 
  • PEOPLE BECOME TRAPPED: If all the surroundings are on fire, people can not reach the water to feel a sense of accomplishment.  People will become tired trying to fight all the flames and will either melt-down or burn-out.
  • THINGS DIE: Even if firefighters quickly dash in to extinguish the blaze, not everything can be saved since the fire covers a lot of ground.  People, equipment, and resources such as water become scarce as many people fight the fire across such a wide area.  A lot of effort is made but only ash remains.

Organizations need to work at aligning over lighting only a few platforms to get effective change for their performance.  Identify your organization’s pyromaniacs to help them not set everything else on fire!

Keep on improving!

Photo is from here.

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Lean Hospitals, Learn Leadership, Respect For People, Strategy Deployment