Lose Customers with Disorganized Workflows

Last week my wife and me went to the traditional Saint Martin Procession with our son. It was a nice walk with all those gleaming hand laterns of the kids. The walk ended at a school were the local music society had prepared some food and beverages. Ordering and delivery was organized as follows:

  • At the cash desk customers have to buy vouchers for specific food and beverage
  • One person works at the cash desk
  • Left of the cash desk all beverages are handed out
  • Three persons are in charge of handing out the beverages
  • Right of the cash desk all food is handed out (french fries, German “Bratwurst”, stuff like that)
  • Four persons are in charge of handing out the food

When we arrived at that location I hurried to the cash desk only to append myself to a long row of approximately 50 people waiting. After 5 minutes there were still 40 people in front of me.

There were several severe problems in the way of organization:

  • Only one person at the cash desk. Maybe a single resource would have been able to handle the queue of people but unfortunately this person was the slowest imaginable.
  • No team work. All the resources had been strictly assigned to their specific stations. No one was able or willing to help at another station to deal with overloads.
  • No one-way routing of customers. After the cash desk first you had to decide to move left or right and cross the row of people in front of the cash desk again to go to the other side.

It really was a mess and I analyzed all these problems within the first minute of waiting. If they only would have organized their work order with a simple kanban, everyone would have been happy with a faster delivery of finished orders to the customers.

We finally decided to abort this experiment after 15 minutes, walked away and got something to drink at home. So my conclusion is: disorganized workflows loses customers.

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