Most organisations struggle with streamlining their processes particularly in line with delivering a great customer experience. We need to take a customer centric approach to our design.
The typical trap is building bureaucracy and risk mitigation into the processes and making people jump through all sorts of procedural hoops to make sure the business is not at risk. This just adds friction and effort for the customer. Not the value or experience we want to deliver.
Coffee the Customer Centric Way
I was in Sydney earlier this year for a Criterion Conference, and had the unexpected pleasure of witnessing a truly customer centric approach to coffee.
Let’s face it. It is can be pretty frustrating visiting a coffee shop. The process is often from one place to the next. Sometimes you have to wait to be seated if you want in-house coffee, other places you sit first then they come over, others you line up and pay first.
For your favourite takeaway do you normally walk in, stand in line at the till, order, pay, then stand around waiting for the barista to catch up..? This is probably the typical process for a takeaway coffee.
In the photo above you can see Petros, just inside his espresso café, Sussex Street, Darling Harbour (light coloured short, the barista is in the black t-shirt). He is chatting with a customer. Notice the coffee cup lids outside on the stool, that’s where you will normally see Petros.
Service: The Petros Way
Every morning Petros stands in front of his café greeting passers-by and welcoming regular customers. He’ll notice a customer 50 metres away and calls out, “your regular coffee today Kris..?” He gets a nod and smile. Then writes the order on the coffee cup lid, slips it inside to the barista, who starts making the coffee. Kris arrives, says ‘good morning’, steps inside to the till, pays for the coffee. By which time Kris maybe waits 60-90 seconds for their favourite, takeaway coffee. I watched this for about 5 minutes and Petros was flawless for a handful of regulars.
More often than not, we design our processes with ourselves in mind, with the business in mind. I am sure most coffee places insist on getting the payment first, otherwise the customer may not pay, or maybe we will forget to get the money – or maybe we will have a wasted coffee. Business centric process. Product centric process.
Petros looked at it from the customer’s perspective, especially the regulars. But even when he took my order (a total stranger) the coffee was being made before I paid. A customer centric process that reduced my waiting time and had no ill effect on internal processes. The customer centric process enhanced my experience. I felt my time was respected, and Petros trusted me to start making the coffee prior to payment. Subtle but persuasive feelings.
I said to Petros that his process was really customer centric. He gave me a bemused look and shrugged his shoulders. Then said, “it’s all about the customer, you have to look after them…” Never truer words have been spoken.
Let’s examine our processes from the customer perspective. We need to trust our customers, let’s make it personal and easy for them. And remove all the bureaucracy and friction we typically want to add into the processes and procedures.
If you get the chance, visit Signature Espresso on Sussex Street, Sydney for a morning coffee and see genuine customer centricity in action. Oh, and by the way, the coffee is great.
Want to know more about customer centricity – you can download the Definitive Guide to the Customer Centric approach here.
Read more here about the difference between product centric and customer centric approaches.