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  • Writer's pictureHamish Mackenzie

Where process gaps create free cappuccinos

Are your processes losing you revenue?

On a recent trip to see a client, I had some time to kill before my flight from Düsseldorf back to Munich, so I decided to grab a coffee at one of the airside restaurants. It’s actually well above average compared to your standard airport joint. The food is good, and the staff aren’t just friendly – they actually seem to be enjoying themselves. In a country where it’s not unusual for servers to look at you with barely disguised disgust, indifference or a weird mixture of the two, this is a novelty that ensures I almost always pay a visit when I’m in town.

Anyway, I ordered a cappuccino, sat down at a table a few feet away, and opened up my laptop to write up some notes from the meeting. Around twenty minutes later I was done with my coffee, and I went to the counter to pay. And that’s when the real fun began.

“I’d like to pay for my cappuccino please,” I said.

“What cappuccino?” the server replied.

“Erm, the one I just had?” I said, pointing to where I had been sitting. She looked at her screen and said, “I don’t have any record of a cappuccino.”

“Oh,” I said.

Then she called over to a colleague and asked, “Do you have a cappuccino for table 6 in the system?”

He looked at his tablet and shook his head. “Are you sure?” she asked again. He shrugged.

Then she turned to me and said, “Well, it’s not in the system.”

“Oh,” I said again, mystified as to why this was a problem. “Well, can you just add it now, so I can pay?”

“No, we can’t take payment retrospectively for orders that didn’t get entered into the system.”

“Right,” I countered. “Well, can I just give you the money, and you can sort it out later?”

“I’m not allowed to do that,” she replied.

“I see. So, what do we do now?” I asked calmly.

She shrugged and said, “I guess you just had a free cappuccino.”

Now, admittedly, we are only talking about a cup of coffee here, and I wondered afterwards if the same thing would have happened had someone forgot to enter a €100 meal into the system. Somehow, I doubt it!

Nevertheless, this story is a simple but effective illustration of how process holes and a lack of willingness to take responsibility can cost businesses money.

So, take a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are the actual or potential holes in your processes that might cost you money?

  • Do your sales staff have the training and permission to fill those holes using their own initiative to prevent loss of revenue?

  • When was the last time you asked someone to spot-test customer-facing processes (or did so yourself), to make sure that your staff aren’t handing out “free cappuccinos” on a regular basis?

Feel free to let me know what you discover. And if you want me to help you spot the holes in your customer experience that are costing you money, contact me.


Copyright Hamish Mackenzie 2019

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