Recently, I needed some documents printed over the weekend and went to my local office stationery & equipment store – most Aussies would recognise these mega shops. They used to print whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, provided you waited in the queue. On this recent occasion, I was told that they no longer print on the spot and that it is a 24hr service now – submit your files today and collect the printouts tomorrow!
I’ve observed this behaviour of changing services, at least on two other occasions: airport valet parking entry not available after mid-day and restaurants not serving breakfast after 11am.
Let’s quickly analyse the possible intention behind each scenario: the print shop is trying to do the printing during the less busy times at their own pace, valet service is trying to focus on majority travellers returning to collect their cars in the afternoon, restaurant is trying to focus on the specific meals for lunch.
All of these scenarios have one thing in common: they are all focusing their internal processes and not the customer needs.
Businesses should use analytical tools to understand their constraints points and explore alleviating them, in order to continue servicing the customer demands/needs. This is true continuous improvement – reduce waste, reduce idle time, reduce un-necessary processes to help provide a better service to the customer at a lower cost. Be agile to be able to respond to customer needs promptly.
Not the other way round to limit the customer demand like Henry Ford did with the model T car back in the early 20th century – ‘you can have black, or you can have black’.
So, what approach are you taking – putting the customer first or the business first?