Have you ever interacted with a company which is focused on its processes or a set of metrics which take the focus away from the customer? Here are two real-life anecdotes:
- A startup car rental company in Bangalore proclaims that its service advisors are asked to spend 60% of their time on following the process accurately, and 40% on their customers. Doesn’t matter how large their funding corpus is, but how long do you think this type of thinking will serve them?
- A document processing company spends its life on meeting its industry compliance based SLAs without thinking about the backlog which is getting created. Because, the backlog is not a part of the metrics being watched. How long, do you think, before the backlog comes to bite them in the a@#?
Sound familiar? The impact of looking at input metrics of input processes can be drastic. It can have an impact on safety, and in some cases you will find customers walking away. Allow me to give you an example of what might happen. The case in point is the low-cost carrier Indigo. Two separate flights and some repeated occurrences :
- After the aircraft lands at the destination airport (COK), the cabin crew disarm (at least) the front doors before instructions from the cockpit, and much before the aircraft reaches its parking stand. Tweeting about it gets a response, and then calls from their social media group.Polite mention of DGCA gets someone from their social media group to call in People who have no idea of what is being talked about and says that all our aircraft doors are “manual” and not “automatic”. Then, of course mentioning gruffly that providing access to whoever runs safety will not be possible. That takes care of the incident, closes the ticket raised but does not solve the actual problem.
- In another situation, there is a group of 23 people flying together (to HYD) and flying for the first time. The already somewhat intimidated the group has been scattered across the plane by Indigo’s insensitive ground traffic staff. Then, because Indigo measures itself on on-time departure, the under pressure cabin crew brow beats these passengers to settle down quick.
- The way Indigo measures its on-time arrival is another scam. A flight which takes (say) 1hr 30 is listed as a 2hr flight thereby providing a large buffer, and then the herding of passengers helps too.
- Cabin crew announcing that they speak in Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi and English (or whatever else) in a plane going to Hyderabad and full of Telegu speaking people is idiotic and insensitive. This works in an international airline which focuses on its vernacular traffic, but just copying the style is idiotic in case of Indigo. Really, no one gives a damn if your crew is from Darjeeling, Bangalore or bumblef***.
- Being an airline in India, it truly is a matter of shame if you can’t get your Hindi right in the announcements. “मैं XXX मुख्य कर्मी दल ” translates to me, XXX the lead working team, though what is meant is ‘me, the lead team member‘ which should be “मैं XXX मुख्य कर्मी दल सदस्या”. Why does this happen? Happens when you have a non-Hindi speaking person doing the translation from “Me, XXX, Lead, Working team” to Hindi and no one in the company thinks about doing a quick check.
The focus, you will notice, is on their SOP and the processes within. Quite possible, following the process minutely will create a very efficient airline and rake in money in the short-term. But, the same blind following of process will turn passengers away because of the “attitude” that their cabin crew has started showing. To a small extent, Jet Airways did get bitten by this in the past.
The blind following of process to focusing on the wrong metric one day will also case a large error and an aircraft operational safety related incident. DGCA, take note.
The focus very clearly needs to be, for processes oriented companies, to be on:
- Output metrics and
- the Customer
If the processes are taking the staff away from these, there is a storm coming. Seriously!
Have you experienced a company starting to be more inward focused? Write in.