If There’s A Wait When There Shouldn’t Be, It’s Broken

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Sitting in a Starbucks today, I watched as a couple pulled up to park in a black Tesla. The man, dressed OK for a holiday, hopped out and walked up to the counter. There was one drink waiting there and he asked the barista if it was his and about the rest of the order. He waited. And waited.

His girlfriend was in the car waiting too.

Finally, about five minutes later, his order was ready. He brought it out to her side of the car. Probably a slide of lemon poppyseed cake, a muffin, and two grande drinks — not likely coffee. She rolled down her window and took the bags and coffee, he walked over to the driver side and got it.

About 20 seconds later, he got out. He was carrying the drinks. He walked back into the Starbucks, and dropped them into the garbage and went back to the car and drove away. He wore a cold expression. I’ve probably made the same expression many times — breathe in, breathe out.

This interaction probably was a big let down. He placed the order by app, likely in advance of him leaving the house. It wasn’t ready when he arrived and was probably prepared wrong, given his reaction.

Of course, I’m reading a lot into what I saw and there are probably some details that are off but probably not by much.

The two things I wonder about here are 1) What are the consequences to Starbucks for this bad experience? 2) What are the underlying causes of the bad experience?

On the consequences side, some of the questions that come to mind are: How many times will someone tolerate a system breaking before they abandon it? How will it affect future orders from this customer? When were the expectations for the experience set?

On the causes side, some thoughts are: Why was there a delay in the order? How did it compare to other experiences that were rated well by customers? Was the barista aware it was a poor experience? What compensation could have been offered to make up for this experience and turn it around.

When there are a high number of transactions, it’s often hard to know when someone is having a poor interaction. Most of the time, unless it’s a big aggrievance or hits some threshold, people won’t bring it up so we should always try to track what might make people unhappy to alert us first.

If we can build up enough, then we can use things like AI methods to build a classifier on how certain aspects of service will impact the customer experience.

Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at http://linkedin.com/in/grebler

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