So my wife Kathleen and I go to Islands Restaurant here in Los Angeles tonight and order a couple of burgers. Kathleen has a coupon in her bag for a free order of fries, but we both prefer onion rings. So we ask the waiter if we can use the coupon, and pay the upgrade difference for the onion rings. He says fine, so we order.
A few minutes later he comes back to tell us the “computer” won’t allow the upgrade. He even gets the manager involved and the manager agrees. “Sorry. The computer won’t let us do it.”
So a local restaurant can’t honor their coupon, charging extra for an upgraded item on the menu? That’s apparently correct. No overrides, no added orders, no upgrades – even if the company stands to make extra money – not to mention the customer is happier.
That’s the sad state of affairs that business has gotten into today. No more individual thinking, no new ideas – only what the computer says. I’m assuming there’s a good side to all of this – that perhaps not allowing any “creative” ordering keeps the staff from scamming money from the company.
But the result is that the customer doesn’t get what he wants – even if he’s willing to pay more, and – the company doesn’t make the extra money.
Is that true in your organization? Have you allowed IT to control your company? Even if you believe (and probably correctly) that total computer control keeps employee theft down, I would encourage you to see the other side. Have you allowed for all options to keep the customer happy and getting what he or she wants? Have you allowed for those unusual situations where you could actually make extra money?
The airlines were at this impasse a few years ago (and sadly a few still are). Flights were leaving with empty seats in First Class – but rules were rules – no upgrades without the right price or official coupons. So finally, someone rather sharp set up the option of selling discounted First Class seats at the last minute at the gate. Sure it wasn’t the full fare, but the airline was getting extra money, plus making customers happy by filling up first class.
Think about the options. Computers are great tools, and we can’t live without them. But they don’t leave a lot of room for options unless we program those options in there. Be innovative, and “teach” your computers to do the same…
Are there other situations you’ve seen out there similar to this one?