AlwaysWoW! For a Great Great WoW in Life

Thoughts from me about things that are cool, that are WoW, that blow me away. Observations about businesses and people from a wide variety of life. Daily encounters - and thoughts outside the box, inside the box and without any box. New thinking, and challenging old thinking. Passionate about life, about respect, and about integrity.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

KFC Follow up - Am I too harsh?

May be I was too harsh - and I throw the question into the discussion. I was complaining, nagging or observing that there is no flexibility in KFC when I really didn't ask for much - my perception.

The comments in the earlier entry were partially agreeing, but "CFK NEKCIHC" made some pretty good remarks. Let me copy them here:

"Give them a chance. These poor OTC waiters (probably Part-time students) taking your orders are under STRICT ORDERS to abide by the rules.

You are also giving them headaches to try and convert the "equivalent prices" of different items in a set menu. Moreover, every piece of chicken and all items in the outlet are probably under a computerized inventory control. At the end of the day, the amount sold should tally with the orders otherwise the auditors will be after them.

Also understand, it is a fast food outlet and if they were to cater to your whims and fancies, it will cause a long queue. Yes, you have the $ in your pocket, but money can't buy you everything you wish and desire. The Beatles have been shouting, "Money can't buy me love." KFC foods are expensive, go to the supermarkets and back to your gas ovens and prepare your meals according to your taste and your requirements.

Patronize them only once in a while only. Cheers, just my observations."

He might be very very right with the possibility that there was a part-timer standing at the cashier. In addition, she was probably hungry and thirsty, since she was a Malay girl and it was shortly before the break of fast - so may be that is a problem by KFC.

Did I give them a headache? Was there the potential of a long queue. Yeah - may be I was wrong, and didn't see it at that point of time - I had my own agenda in mind. I wouldn't have gone to KFC in the first place, if McD would have been open.

I believe one can expect a great deal of customer service in a lot of different places, such as shops and services, nowadays. This is needed to stay competitive.

I don't know who wrote the book about the different approaches to customers or products but there are three different approaches:

1.) Product orientation - Companies that produce products and the leading edge - Samsung, Nokia or Nike fall into this category.
2.) Customer orientation - Companies that embrace their customer and that are able to embrace their customers. Consulting firms are falling into this category
3.) Operational efficiency - companies that are extremely efficient in running their business on scale - Dell is one of those companies. McDonalds is one of those. There is not much flexibility in their model and that means that anything outside their scope disturbs the process.

The authors (I will find the name, no worries)**, said that to be competitive, a company needs to be worldclass in one of the categories and very good at the other two.

McDonalds started to have trouble (at least in the US), when they began to customise their menu, while they were extremely efficient in their operations. And it is clear that KFC is somewhere in there as well.

Now - I as a "normal" customer will of course not know the orientation of a company - I will not be familiar with their direction, but feel bad if I don't necessarily get what I want or ordered.

I still believe that it is the duty of management to provide flexibility to frontstaff, but may be that would drive up the costs, since they would have to train their frontstaff or hire more experienced people. I however see the mistake that I made but wonder, if I should react differently next time. Or, may be, KFC or any other fast food restaurant should be able to provide the customer experience at a different level, at different times or I don't know what - help me out here.

** The book was written by Treacy & Wiersema, The Discipline of Market Leaders. Addison-Wesley, 1995.


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