Service Delivery Mechanism

Today I stopped by for lunch at one of the Subway outlets in the city. I had to wait in the queue for a bit and then got my order in a couple of minutes. It was a standard procedure, which was carried out without much fuss. 

When I got off from my work, I tagged along with my younger brother for another round for sub-sandwich at the same outlet. We reached there at 6.50 pm. My brother stood in the queue. We got our order at 7.15 pm. For those 25 minutes I observed following:

  • There were quite a few people in the queue or something that resembled a queue. No one from the outlet instructed these patrons to stand in the queue.
  • Although an evening time slot, the outside temperature was in excess of 30C. The air conditioning system was not working.
  • Various questions were being asked amongst the staff members about whether various quantities of various raw material had arrived or not.
  • A third party home delivery service representative was present to pick up an order, for which various notes and numbers were exchanged.
  • A lot of idle time for patrons was observed.
  • When I walked up to the counter to pay for our order, straws and tissues were not provided.
  • I paid for the order with a debit card. I was given a pencil to sign on the card receipt. I refused. I fetched a pen from my bag and completed the transaction.
  • Side note: By the time we finished eating our delicious order there were a couple of school girls there to place an order. It appeared that they had brought exact sum amount required for their order. There was an apparent miscommunication between the girls and one the staff members. The manager overheard it. He was smart and kind enough to bend the rules, so that the girls would get their order. But he also indicated it to his staff member that the current prepared order can be passed on to the next customer.

Before I move forward, let me make it very very clear that I am not criticising Subway chain store. I love their food. I am a die-hard fan of Subway subs. 

The problem I am looking at is much larger than a chain-store's identity. The above scenario is more often than not observed at many Indian restaurants - retail outlets - coffee shops during evening peak hours.. When I visit a retail store or coffee shop in the evening, the staff over there is busy loading new stock so I end up waiting. Many a times new stock is brought in through the front door, as back door facility does not exist.

So I do have a few suggestions for these stores:

  • Reload your stocks before 4.00 pm everyday, preferably through a back door
  • Make sure you have enough inward cash of various denomination after every 4 hours
  • Make sure the staff drinks good quality tea/coffee as many times as they want without leaving the workplace during office hours
  • Ensure that there is a back door for smooth stock inwards - outwards
  • Ensure that your customers understand the meaning of standing in a queue - do not pamper your regular visitors in this case
  • The floor/branch/store manager should speak to the staff politely and respectfully when the store is open and closed for customers.
  • Enforce a delivery time frame that will make a brand name for yourself [Hint: McDonald's]
  • Ask your regular clients/ customers to do an impromptu review of the service delivery mechanism - this will instill confidence in both the parties. 
  • If you are a store manager then wear a badge that says manager or behave like one - you should be able to earn respect with latter without much efforts

This list can be made extensive. I would encourage readers to write their views in the comments section. 

The failed service delivery mechanism seem to be common with restaurants, retail stores, chain stores. McDonald's keeps itself away from this scenario, because without their awesome delivery methodology the burger and the doctored fries will be nothing. 

So the gesture to bend the rules to accommodate problem of the school girls was a good step towards making things better. But the manager ruined it when he told his staff to pass that 'fresh product' to the next customer. He should have asked him to keep it aside and bill it against the whole team. It was a great opportunity to showcase collective responsibility but I guess he did not feel the same.

Perhaps he (the services sector) has never really thought about adding finishing touches to excellent decisions.