Mapping Business Processes; The Benefits

Policies can be frustrating.  Bureaucracy can slow efficiencies and make us less effective in our jobs.  Procedures and systems can seem especially ridiculous when we don't understand why they were established in the first place.  And I agree that many policies and systems actually decrease effectiveness and efficiencies.  But mapping business systems can be beneficial on a number of levels.  Specifically, to systematize through policies and procedures can enhance your customer  service, and ultimately the customer experience.

My Experience

Your customer's experience at your business can be greatly impacted by the systems, processes, and procedures you have in place.  And as a result of this, the customer experience will influence the overall perception of your company which will directly contribute to the loyalty of your customer base.  Basically, your systems will have a direct impact on the loyalty of your customer base.

For example, my family was recently celebrating a birthday and had to decide where to go for a nice birthday dinner.  The decision wasn't too difficult as, in my home town, there is one restaurant everyone knows is the birthday restaurant; Bandito's.

For years, Bandito's has been giving you a free meal on your birthday.  Their TV and radio commercials are almost exclusively focused on birthdays and they even have a fantastic jingle that ends with "happy birthday from Bandito's".  And this marketing strategy has worked well as every time I am there, I observe multiple birthday celebrations.

But I only choose to go there for birthday celebrations.  You see, even though they are actually one of the closest restaurants to my home and one of the two largest local chains of Mexican food, I prefer the customer experience at several different restaurants over them.  That said, I am always happy to get a free birthday meal as 4 of our 5 family members share a birthday with another immediate family member.

To explain explain how systems are important in customer loyalty, let me give you the quick facts of our latest birthday visit.  (I don't intend to complain here; I just want to share the facts so that we can learn.)

When wearrived, we were the only ones in the lobby, but waited several minutes to be seated. Once seated, it was evident that the crayons that are supposed to accompany the kids coloring menu were missing.  Regardless of multiple requests, the waitress didn't get them to us until after our appetizer had arrived.  I really don't blame her as this isn't something that she is used to doing or should be doing.  The system broke down and she had to operate outside of her role in the customer experience.

Now, one of the unique touches at Bandito's is that they actually light an "oil fire" on their fajitas right before they serve them to you.  This feature is fantastic and the kids love it, so my wife and I decided to order fajitas.  To our disappointment, neither my wife's nor my fajitas had the expected flame.  In addition, our drinks were empty the entire meal and our dirty dishes weren't bussed.

Now, I would like to reiterate that I am not writing this to complain.  I really believe there is a valuable lesson to be learned and strongly feel it is worth sharing.  You see, these experiences weren't really that big of a deal - at least by themselves.  But together, it started to get frustrating. And, this wasn't the end of it.

When we initially sat down, we explained to our waitress that we were celebrating two birthdays and actually had the proof (IDs we dug out of the vault just for this occasion) sitting on the table.  But apparently, she forgot.  You see, we actually had to ask our waitress if they could sing the Bandito's special birthday song.  They did eventually sing the birthday song, but much of the excitement was lost.  We felt like we were bothering them as the waitress actually seemed slightly annoyed by having to sing the birthday song.  Further, when I finally looked at the bill, I noticed that I was being charged for our two birthday meals.  When I politely brought this up with the waitress, she replied that she would need proof in order to take them off.  The proof was still sitting on the end of the table right where we left it when we showed it to her upon arrival.

Now, this type of experience seems to happen to me quite often during my rare visits to Bandito's.  Do I have bad luck or bring bad energy with me to get this type of treatment?  I don't think that is it.  I have experienced this type of customer experience there so many times that I honestly expected it.  It was going to be the price I would have to pay for a free meal. 

I believe I continue to have this less than average customer experience at Bandito's because their systems are failing them.

Repercussions of Poor Systematization

Weak processes, procedures, and systems can greatly affect a small business.  For Bandito's, the birthday focus they have advertised for years gets a lot of people in the door.  I believe that this was a genius hack for the business as they really are the go-to place for birthdays.  But do to their lack of effective systems and the less than par resulting customer experience, they are not the go-to place for anything else.

While their competition has mastered the consistent, excellent Mexican food customer experience, Bandito's struggles to retain loyal, returning customers.  This means that a majority of the people coming in are there for birthdays.  While birthdays can be annoying to servers as they have to gather a team to sing and their tips are often reduced due to free meals, they must understand that this is why many of us come to the restaurant.  This reason alone.  From our perspective, if they aren't going to do an excellent job for our special occasion, which they advertise as their specialty, they how well are they going to do for the business lunch or weekend date?

The Importance of Mapping Business Systems

I am sharing my customer experience at Bandito's to point out the potential they are missing in their business.  A simple hack could easily enhance the customer experience, resulting in loyal, raving fans.  Everyone likes a decent free meal, but we love it when the free meal is fantastic.

My wife and I recently visited Ed Debevic's in Chicago.  Though we had never been there before, we were fully aware of the "rudeness" we were going to receive from the wait staff.  And we welcomed it.

Ed Debevic's has hacked their business to put a backwards spin on customer service.  Your server is going to be rude to you and you can be rude to your server.  It is expected. And people come from all over to experience this service hack.

The resulting customer experience at Ed Debevic's tells me that they have done an excellent job at mapping business systems.  This means that everyone plays their part in the customer experience and there are no deficiencies in the process.

Now compared to Bandito's, can you imagine the disappointment of going to Ed Debevic's only to be treated nicely?  You would feel robbed of the unique experience others have described and that you have anticipated.  It's the same thing with Bandito's.  You go in expecting a great free meal, but are disappointed by the experience.

A Question for You

Where would you start in mapping business systems for Bandito's so that the end result is a better customer experience?