Don’t let process kill customer experience!

This is based on a true story… 🙂

Recently I took my car for it’s periodic service to the agent which is probably one of the biggest car makers in the world. This car manufacturer is well known for coming up with The Lean Manufacturing system which is taught in MBA classes the world over.

Having streamlined “lean” processes is all good but should these processes be strictly followed at the expense of customer experience?

Back to my car story, here’s part of the conversation between me and the service agent.

Agent: Sir, your car’s carpets need to be washed.
Me: Yes, please do so.
Agent: The carpets may still be wet when you pick up the car in the afternoon, you may have to dry them yourself.
Me: Dude, it’s 11 am and the sun is absolutely baking down here why can’t you dry the carpets for me.
Agent: In our process we do the washing last (after oil change etc.) and we may not have enough time to dry the carpets.
Me: Why can’t you wash the carpets first and let them dry under the scorching sun for some time.
Agent: Sorry but that’s our process.
Me: Hmmm (shaking my head)…Ok!

Bummer! I had to go home and dry the carpets myself, which was pretty poor customer experience to me.

I thought to myself, shouldn’t the main goal of all these processes ultimately result in customer delight?

For example in Agile software development the main focus is on the frequent delivery of value to the customer, these could be new features or bug fixes.

I’ve seen situations similar to my “wet carpet experience” in agile software teams as well. Dev teams are sometimes hell-bent over following the “process” at the cost of delivering good customer value/experience.

And I think this should not be the case. To me customer value/delight should almost always trump “sticking to the process”!

In other words any process should be flexible enough to ensure customer delight!


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