Customer Disservice (or, “How to Break a Process”) 3

Have a bad day, please!

Have a bad day, please!

Have you ever gotten really crappy service from a broken process?

My wife and I recently completed a trip from Richmond, Virginia to Reno, Nevada (through Dallas/Fort Worth) on an airline I won’t mention (although I’ll say that it is the most patriotic of airlines if you happen to be American).  Their passenger check-in process was a total dumpster fire.

The most difficult part of this event was that it challenged the basic assumption that bad processes (never bad people) are the problem.

This experience was one of an increasing number of instances that has me contemplating purchase of a Go-Pro.  After the experience, I wanted to write about:

-How the customer service representative (CSR) completely ruined a good parallel process (by forcing all customers into one line that didn’t address their individual needs,

-How the CSR made us all feel special by making us stand in the “issue-customers line” (her exact words)

-How the CSR made customers wait while she did a quick 5S on her desk

-How the CSR cursed audibly from behind the counter at how needy the customers were

And finally

-How the CSR went out of her way to make the travel experience terrible for everyone involved

Instead, I decided to show you what happened via use of a Swim-Lane Flowchart.  The beauty of this tool is that it is flexible to your needs; you don’t have to use any specialized software to make one (I like to use BizAgi’s free version).  So here it is (click to open it up to a readable size).  A picture is worth 1,000 words, and I think this flowchart gets the point across.  Take a quick look before continuing.  It’s lots of fun!

Other issues aside, the CSR in this scenario failed to use an established parallel processing system that was designed to move passengers efficiently through the check-in process.  The end result was a breakdown in the system that slowed traffic to a standstill and left the CSR, customers, and the CSR’s coworkers frustrated and angry.

What caused this deviation from standard practice?  Was it a broken process or a bad employee?  Was it a training deficiency?  Maybe lack of buy-in to the process?  An employee’s burning desire to “get on with his/her life’s work” by becoming available to new employment opportunities?  We may never know the answer to this question.

What situations have you encountered where processes were clearly being sub-optimized?  More importantly, how would you start the process of fixing this?  Leave a reply; share your knowledge!

3 thoughts on “Customer Disservice (or, “How to Break a Process”)

  1. Reply Gretchen Schmauder Jun 24,2016 10:46 pm

    This post cracked me up! Take a deep breath and try and smile. At least you’re home now. Airline Customer Service is truly atrocious and I too have had some pretty terrible experiences at the airport. One time I flew into Austin on a different, yet similarly patriotic airline (if you’re from the U.S.). The fun started when they lost my luggage because they put a different passenger’s baggage tag on it. The fun carried over throughout the evening and into the late night when their ‘we’ve found your bag!’ automated phone system began robo-calling me uncontrollably every 10 minutes beginning at midnight. But the fun really reached a pinnacle of mirth the next day when I checked in at the counter to leave. I bent over to get my ID out of my bag at my feet and the creepy CSR said “Ma’am, that’s not your best feature”. I had not words, though I let my wallet do the talking and never flew that airline again.

    • Reply Anthony DoMoe Jun 25,2016 3:02 pm

      Gretchen, if this were a contest I’d declare you the winner! My CSR may have just been having a bad day; yours was so bad I can’t even find the words to describe it!
      Thank you for inserting the word “mirth” into my day. That word doesn’t get used often enough.

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