miércoles, 16 de agosto de 2017

Good people + Bad Systems = poor results

Sometimes I tend to think that it ain´t fair to say that Mexico is far away from developed countries regarding productivity, service, and quality. Especially service, since Mexican people is often recognized worldwide for its warmth and kindness to foreigns.

Of course, having good people in companies is not the same as having superb service. Lately, I have to retract myself from thinking that Mexico is not so far from the US, for example regarding customer service.

Poor Customer service at dealerships.

There are different recent examples, that my Wife and I have experienced to state that Customer Service is almost non-existent in our country. The story goes back to a couple of weeks ago when my car caught fire and it was declared a piece of junk. No repair is possible, so thanks to my family who lend me money I started the process to look for a new car. As look for several options, I decided to go for a previously owned, since we are already paying for my wife´s new car, we didn´t want to spend more, so I thought that going to a dealership for a certified previously owned was the best option.  
Renault Logo     Source: www.renault.com.mx
 
Checked different websites and found three different dealerships with interesting options within my budget. So I filled 3 forms at their websites and received confirmation e mails that a sales representative would communicate with me soon.  I even went to a dealership on Sunday, but unluckily used cars section didn´t open on Sundays. So I left my information: name, phone number, etc.

So, I patiently waited for those representatives to call me. Monday morning received one call very early, it was a rep from the first dealership I saw on the internet, a Suzuki dealership. Very polite, she scheduled my visit to check on the car I was interested in. But a couple of hours later in the day, received another call from the same lady, saying that the car I was going to look for, had been sold. Apparently, cars are sold quicker than updating a web page. So, luckily for me, she texted me the cars they had in inventory and I thought, I´ll give it a try. After all, I intended to go there anyway and probably could find a similar or a better option being there. I have to say that this girl, made her best to make sure I wouldn´t walk away from them, and actually ended up checking and signing for another one. 
Suzuki: A very different approach from the lady who took my request.

I also received a call from that dealership that didn´t open the used cars section on Sunday. It was a Renault dealership. The representative asked me what cars were interesting to me and I indicated two models that were available. Also asked for financing options and he told me that would send me the info to my e mail, and guess what. I´m still waiting! Two similar situations, totally different approaches.
The rest of the dealerships didn´t even call me, and there is no wonder why I decided to go for a Suzuki model. Comparing this 2 reps, I find similarities, in the way that the systems they were working with, were not perfect. Far from it! In the Renault dealership, they didn´t open on Sunday, in Suzuki, the web site can´t keep up with the pace of used cars being sold. Yet, the responses were totally different. Better training at one dealership? Better hiring process? Standards clearly defined at one? Maybe.  One thing is a fact. If processes and systems are not existent, it is managers responsibility to engage workers and let them create the standards, provide the support, and make sure these processes are clear enough for the workers to be understood and be executed.

The Walmart online process

The second example is related to a poor online purchasing experience. Turn´s out my daughter wanted a  big girl´s back pack. She is 9, and is going away from cartoons and stuff like that, she wanted a girls back pack, not a child´s. So my Wife and daughter saw a nice back pack at Walmart´s site and decided to buy that. They waited for the delivery and when the back pack finally arrived, It was the wrong model. So, my Wife had to go through the claims process where she had to physically go to a Walmart store, fill a format, provide information, and to her surprise, nobody in the store knew how to process a claim from a purchase done online. She had to wait, because the person responsible for processing online claims, was new and was getting his badge that day.  In the end, an employee attended my Wife, very polite and processed the claim. 
 
          Back Pack at Walmarts Site.               Source: www.walmart.com.mx       






What was Delivered the first 2 times.

 
A few days later, Walmart delivered the back pack, and guess what... It was the wrong one, again! Fortunately, my Wife checked the product right there and was able to return the back pack right there. In the third delivery, finally, Walmart was able to deliver the right product. In part because one worker, follow up on this issue and managed to get the right product this time. What happened? So many flaws from one big company who has been a symbol for logistics efficiency, and needed three deliveries to get the right product delivered. Where is the issue? Wrong identification on products? products located in the wrong locations? No standards? Insufficient standards? Standards not clear enough or difficult to execute? Those are the questions managers need to ask. 

The good part of the stories is that in both cases, workers saved the day. But, cannot be this way all the time. There will come the moment where they may not be as sharp, as polite or as concentrated as they were in these cases. They are humans after all! That is why systems and processes are so important. 
Good People in Bad Processes can deliver mediocre results. Good processes can make Good People deliver outstanding results.

What is your take on Customer service? Have you experienced situations where poor processes produce mediocre results? Please share your thoughts.

miércoles, 28 de junio de 2017

The system isn´t perfect, is that the real issue?

I`m back writing again, after a very long period of inactivity. But it has been for good, as I have been learning and fine tuning my Lean skills. Today I want to write about the Confederations Cup and the new system that it´s being used to help referees make tough decisions; the so called VAR. 
In Soccer, there are 4 referees, that basically rely on their own eyes, experience and interpretation of the rules to take the calls. Soccer is one of those sports that seem to have been away from technology for a long time. It´s no surprise that, as referees rely on their abilities to have a fair performance every game. However Soccer is the one sport that has many periods of controversy, precisely because the decisions referees often make, are completely wrong.
There are famous examples as Maradona´s "Hand of god" in 1986 World Cup, or the "Phantom Goal" that gave England its only World Cup title in 1966. Most recently Thierry Henry´s hand during the World Cup qualification in 2009, in a match between France and Ireland. Henry controled the ball with the hand (something totally forbidden in Soccer) and gave an assistance to a team mate, who scored a Goal, and because of that Goal, Ireland was out of the World Cup.
So,  as you can see, Soccer´s needed desperately for years a better technology, rules, a better system to make the game fair for both teams. NFL has Video Assistance and challenges, where teams can request referees to look again at the critical plays and this, often allows referees to take accurate decisions. NBA has a similar system and very clear rules. Soccer has integrated a similar system to try to help referees to make better decisions. This new system/technology is called VAR (Video Assistant Referee) which is basically something very similar to what the NFL has. This summer, the tournament called Confederations Cup is being played in Rusia. One year before the World Cup that will be played at that same country. In this tournament, the VAR has made its debut.  And as expected, there are complains from analysts and public in general. Why? Because in order for the referee to take a look at the VAR, the game needs to be stopped. Fans, players, coaches and tv analysts aren´t used to the this. Soccer is a sport where the only time it is stopped is when there is an injured player, somebody scores a goal or there is an external situation. So it is logical that there are many complains about this system. Perhaps, the fact that the game has been stopped for over 2 minutes, is a main contributor for the complains. The main complain is that it interrupts the game. Some said, that the promise was that it wouldn´t take more than 30 secs to review a controversial play. 
VAR system provides feedback to referees when critical plays  arise.

All this made me think about the "resistance to change" when a transformation or a new process or perhaps, a new technology is being introduced at any process. There is always people who will resist the change. Why? There are a lot of reasons. Not fully understanding why the change is needed, is one common. Because often, technology isn´t reliable and brings more troubles than solutions. Because the change is imposed and people often insn´t taken into consideration when introducing change. Because leadership isn´t commited to change and there is poor follow up on initiatives, etc. There are a lot of reasons why people seem to resist to change. In the case of Soccer, this new technology isn´t as efficient, as I believe could be. But at least, is based in a system that has proven to be efficient. The NFL, I think is an example that Soccer should persuit. And the fact that now, 2 minutes or more are needed to review a critical play, isn´t necesarily bad. My expectaton is that this system will continue to evolve to achieve that 30 seconds promise to review a play and make a decision. Or even less time. We should not forget, that everything can in fact, be improved.  And the fact that right now, this process is a bit longer, doesn´t mean it cannot go faster and be more accurate and better in the future.

I really think that a system that isn´t perfect is not a abad thing, as long as the owner recognize the flaws and would be willing to fix it. A really bad thing is when a process is launched, has many flaws and the owner doesn´t seem to be interested on improving.
Resistance to change will always exist. Or perhaps we better call it, Not understanding the change. In life as in processes will always be people who prefer the old way. I guess we can keep trying, use our minds to explain the better possible way why it is important to follow change. And what benefits can arise from the change. Usually when people gets it, they get it. Listening to the suggestions of people is always a key element to overcome fear or lack of understanding. In the end Lean is about making things better, WITH people. So, VAR creators have a great opportunity to listen, observe and improve the system for the sport´s, fans and media benefit. Only time will tale if these creators have a continuous improvement mind set or not.

The main issue is not that the VAR isn´t perfect. The issue is wether VAR creators would be able to recognize the flaws and improve the system.

Thanks for reading, would love to read your thoughts regarding Soccer, change or else.