As I prepared my vegetable patch for planting at the weekend I mused over some of the objections we face when introducing new efficiency improving technologies to our potential customers.
Strangely my thoughts about the processes involved, mixed with what I was actually doing, brought home an interesting comparative revelation.
Digging a vegetable patch can be back-breaking work. (You invariably wake up the next morning with blisters and backache!) It’s also time consuming (typically it would be 10 hours work in my case); deadline dependent, as there is a time window to plant seeds; weather dependent, as unfortunately at this time of year it is most likely to be wet. Critically, every one of these challenges is highly visible, because I am involved in every painful part of it!
So what have I done to relieve the pain and improve the process? Well, I invested in some technology. It’s all done in 2 hours – on time, in between showers, no blisters, no backache – all thanks to my 1988 MerryTiller Major rotovator.
In comparison, being inefficient in the office can be, well, quite cushy (yes it can actually be very pleasant being inefficient) and largely invisible, as you sit comfortably in front of a PC in a nice warm customer services office. The phone rings, a customer wants to know where their delivery is, so you politely promise to call them back and email transport. The Transport Manager reads your email, looks up the vehicle involved and calls the driver who informs them that the loads have been swapped. They call a second driver who doesn’t respond, so they leave a message. The Transport Manager emails you on the current status. The second driver returns the call to the Transport Manager who then emails you again, not just with an arrival time, but with a full explanation in writing – so that you in customer services have an audit trail of the efforts involved to please the customer. You then phone the customer with the update – and send a confirmation email.
The result? All in all, a grossly inefficient exercise providing poor service, absorbing at least 20 minutes of four different people’s time. Something which Maxoptra, our dynamic scheduling and route optimisation software platform could completely automate, providing the right information in seconds. Indeed Maxoptra can send automated proactive ETA emails to the customer.
But what does it matter, nobody has visibility of the inefficiency (except the customer……..), nobody is freezing cold, nobody has blisters or an aching back – and everybody seems happy with an inefficient job, well done.
So maybe, just maybe, in our nice warm comfortable offices – inefficiency is simply not painful enough.