I writing this on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston. As I do before most longer flights, I bought a cup of coffee to bring on board.
But the Aer Lingus gate agent informed me that airline policy forbids passengers from carrying hot beverages onto their airplanes. It's considered a safety hazard.
(The same cup of coffee is just as hot when carried onto an Aer Lingus flight as it is when carried onto a Delta flight or an Air France flight or even a Spirit flight. So it can't be the coffee. Do passengers get more careless when they step onto an Aer Lingus airplane, therefore making that same hot beverage less safe?)
I begrudgingly threw away my full coffee before getting on board. The gate agent thanked me for understanding (I didn't) and assured me that I could get coffee on the airplane. She was right - but not for a while...
An hour later, at 35,000 feet, a flight attendant asked me if I'd like a beverage.
"Yes, I said. "I'd love a cup of coffee!!!"
"I'm sorry, but we don't serve any coffee until after we serve dinner. We only serve cold beverages during the beverage service."
At this point, it felt like I, along with the other coffee drinkers on the plane were being intentionally tortured. The more these Aer Lingus employees tell me that I can't have coffee, the more I want it! They know this, so they just keep denying me to see how I'll react.
The first denial was attributed to safety. I'll never argue when it comes to enforcement of a safety policy (I may not like it, but. if it's about safety, I'll accept it) But the second denial of a common airline customer request (hey, airlines began serving coffee shortly after the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk). Aer Lingus can, but they don't, because eliminating hot beverages simplifies the beverage service process.
Business processes are routinely simplified to remove unnecessary steps and wasted resources. If steps don't add value to a process, the steps should be removed. But companies often make a critical error, by simplifying a process without regard to how the simplification will impact the customer experience. Their focus is concentrated more on employee productivity than customer satisfaction, as they make the process simpler for the employees to carry out. Aer Lingus chose to eliminate coffee and tea from the beverage service, because it simplified the distribution process for the flight attendants. And I'll bet there are plenty of other customers on this full flight, that wanted the coffee that Aer Lingus chose to not serve.
Here's the Point:
Design your processes primarily to create a positive experience for your customers, and secondarily to make employees more efficient.
Do this by following these 3 steps:
- Add all customer requirements into the process.
- After addressing all customer requirements, simplify the process by removing unnecessary steps.
- Go back, and make sure that you didn't remove any customer requirements during step 2.
Never mind the baby and the bath water. Eliminating customer pleasures for the sake of efficiency is like throwing the coffee out with the grinds.