February 24, 2012

Reading the table

Wall Street Journal reported recently on some strategies about how a waiter might "read" a table, i.e., learn from the mannerisms of the customers about how best to serve them.  I found the interactive picture pretty revealing:


I think this is a good example of how a service process can be very different from a manufacturing process.  In a traditional manufacturing process you have to train a person to do the same thing all day every day:  put the bolt into the hole over and over again on the assembly line.  In a service, the production worker must be able to react to the changes in the process, most notably the differences of customers. Treating all customers the same way may lead to the wrong experience for some customers.  Customers must be treated individually.  

Here's a good sesame street clip that shows what might happen if the wrong message is given to the wrong customer:


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