There are moments when I wonder if we are really in control or not. Yesterday I noticed the light flash that I needed gas, so off I drove to a nearby gas station for a fill-up. I attempted to use my debit card however the screen advised me to “see attendant.” Funny, my first impulse was a sense of alarm, then logic took over and off I went inside. After informing the clerk I was directed to see him, he stated the system must be down, as unfortunately he was unable to access the registers. He suggested I try again later, but if I wanted a car-wash now, the machine outside is accepting dollar bills – reality can be so much funnier than fiction.
I Love Technology – Always and Forever
Apparently there must be “something in the air” as two days earlier I experienced this same type of scenario at my local Starbucks. That afternoon 2 of the 3 registers were down – rebooting; so as I placed my order at the front counter the clerk’s only option was to ring my purchase from 15 feet away at the register located at drive-thru window. Despite the delays of people waiting in-line I guess it’s not kosher to thank customers for their patience and apologize for the circumstances. I suppose the idea in embracing customer loyalty is not a prime value. I forgot to mention I like the convenience in using my smartphone app, so that involved another glitch scanning a card at a distance. I even noticed my reaction was to apologize for the inconvenience of payment.
According to a recent article this particular app has been a real “cash cow” – who came up with this term? This application has generated such a cash flow that the company has more cash at hand than some banks – no wonder I just read this morning all Starbucks employees will be issued raises. I can now hear Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip singing the lyric “I love technology.”
I find it somewhat amusing to witness scenarios in which cashiers seem perplexed when their “system goes down.” Haven’t you noticed that counting money seems so prehistoric for some; and how about pricing an item without a scanned price tag? I compare it with the airport screening going off if one forgets to remove a dime from a pocket.
“Apps, Passwords and User IDs, Oh My!”
My experience of having my e-mail hacked a couple of weeks ago was a huge inconvenience. As a result I now have 12 different passwords for primary sites I use. I know it sounds so medieval but I had to write them down on a piece of paper, forget attempting to remember all my user IDs and passwords.
Although I consider myself to have a reliable memory, I felt so vulnerable recently when I temporarily forgot one of my family’s telephone numbers. Gone are those days of remembering multiple phone numbers, if your photo or name is not on my smartphone, I likely wouldn’t be able to dial your number from a pay phone. That is if you can locate a pay phone anymore.
I mean as long as one has access to WiFi and an electrical outlet to charge it, the world is at your fingertips. And speaking of amazing my 3 year old grandson’s abilities to use a smartphone is ridiculous. How he navigates through the apps and although he can’t read yet, he understands the symbol when a site is “loading.”
Despite the advancement in technology and since the emphasis of my career has been associated to raising the levels of quality service processes, my concerns is that people skills seem so erratic. Professionalism in customer greetings, attention and service are just so inconsistent in business, especially in the retail and food industry. Somewhere there exists a disconnect between the corporate elite to the front line employees. At times I notice most businesses post company signage or materials of customer commitments and values. Perhaps the missing links to blame are those in between these two parties. I recall one day witnessing a regional manager pulling one of two cashiers at a Starbucks with 7-8 customers in line to have that employee clean the store entrance glass doors – talk about priorities and setting an example.
Technology will continue to advance and meet the challenges in efficiency, yet if people will be required to be accountable in the process, total quality management must be a required policy to maintain and implement. Why takes risks assuming employees will do the “right thing” or “treat customers as you wish to be treated.” I hear those lines or that message being conveyed to others often. Unfortunately that will not supplement or adhere to a formalized implementation and management of standards.