Process modelling for efficiency – or for the customer experience

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So I just got back from holiday and felt I had to write on another great view on the world of business process.

I was travelling with my family and to get to our destination meant 3 flights with 3 in-flight meals. Only the flights were not long and Alitalia offer you a choice of salty or sweet biscuits, which is fine of you are only on one flight in the day, but by the time we got to Rome airport we were a little hungry and with a further flight starting to board, as we passed a food counter I thought I’d grab a quick sandwich for the 4 of us with a drink each.

But Rome airport (like Cagliari on the return journey) have perfected their in-house processes. They have specialist personnel and work areas for the preparation of drinks and a separate one for food. To make this work they have the till in the middle of the ‘café’.  The trigger for the preparation of the food or the drink is not the ordering at the till as you might expect, but the presentation of the receipt at the preparation area.

So what does this mean for the busy traveller who is trying to get to a flight that has already been called:

  1. Review the food and drink options in 2 separate locations
  2. Queue to pay at the till
    1. This means pointing to miscellaneous food items and trying to be clear exactly what you want – no self-service.
  3. Move to drinks preparation area, queue for your turn, show them your receipt and ask for your drink (or 4). When only 2 drinks are brought have an animated discussion  showing the receipt so that the correct order finally arrives
  4. Now move past the queue for the till so you can arrive at the food preparation counter. Discover that they have no idea what you ordered some time ago and show them the receipt. Yet more delay as something always gets lost in translation, and again the 3 sandwiches that were ordered became just 2 and another heated discussion starts as you are noticing that there is no-one in the queue for the flight and a run across the terminal means that you finally get to boarding.

Conclusions: I think the Italians have done a fine job of improving their own business processes. Everyone has their own job and clearly costs of production are low. However the customer experience is terrible. Do they care? I don’t know and as they have a monopoly they probably don’t, but let me ask you this: How well do your customers do when they want to buy your goods or services?

If you would like a process review, or to talk about how to go about doing one, get in touch!

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