Friday, October 15, 2010

Experience vs. Efficiency: The Winner is...

Starbucks wants to make sure you savor the experience offered in its stores, even if it means waiting a little longer.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Starbucks will soon roll out new guidelines for its baristas that may cause longer wait times for your favorite white chocolate mocha (okay, that's my favorite, but you get the idea).

Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time—starting a second one while finishing the first.

Front line baristas are worried that the new guidelines will increase wait times, thus fueling the possibility of customer backlash - directed at the baristas. The corporate take is that the guidelines will eventually hasten the way drinks are made and lead to fresher, hotter drinks. Steaming milk for individual drinks, for example, "ensures the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance," the company documents state, while focusing on just two drinks at a time "reduces possibility for errors."

Lessons for ChurchWorld
  • What is the value you place on the "experience" you are offering guests who come to your church every weekend?
  • Are you tempted to shortcut the process and risk diluting that experience?
  • Do you have systems in place that ensure (as much as possible) that your front-line "employees" focus delivering quality guest services vs. just "doing a job"?
  • Do you have a mechanism in place which allows guests to respond to their experiences, allowing you to continually monitor and improve them?
  • Do you continue review all systems to make sure "ends" and "means" are in their proper place?
  • Do your values permeate throughout your organization, reflecting in both actions and words of your volunteers?
Starbucks is taking a risk, placing the value of "experience" over what seems to be efficiency.

Would your church be willing to do the same?

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