(Guest article by Renee Thiesing)
I recently found myself in a situation that can only be described as completely frustrating. And as an Industrial Engineer, it was even more frustrating because with just a small amount of reorganization and process enhancement, the customer experience could be improved tenfold. No, this aggravating experience did not occur at the Department of Motor Vehicles, it transpired at a children’s ski school drop off counter.
I arrived with my daughter at 8:45am, which is in the middle of the recommended arrival time slot of 8:30-9:00am. The line of about 6 people was making the very small lobby area seem tiny. Besides the fact that the line was moving incredibly slow, when the person at the front of the line arrived at the counter, there was no clear process that occurred. Some people had reservations, some did not. Some people needed to rent equipment, some did not. Depending on your situation, the time that you spent at the counter when you reached the front of the line, varied. It seemed there was no clear benefit to having reservations. And for those poor people who were renting equipment (myself included), after finally reaching the front of the first line, we were sent upstairs to an even more chaotic ski rental area. As we joined the back of another line, I realized that this line was only for boots. Once my daughter was finished getting fitted for boots, I needed to go to the other side of the room for skis. And was the line I waited in for skis the final line? No. Next, we trekked back downstairs to where we started, only to join another line. Here is where we waited for my daughter to finally enter the ski school. After it was all said and done, it was one hour later and the world was left with yet another dissatisfied customer.
I can’t help wonder how some simple changes might improve the system. What if they assigned a certain number of people to arrive at 8:30am, another group to arrive at 8:45am and yet another at 9:00am? Would this arrival process help reduce the time customers wait in line? I believe there should be a clear benefit to people who have reservations. Would their experience be improved if they had a line separate from the people who did not reserve a spot? One of the most annoying aspects of the system was that we had to go upstairs and wait in line to rent our equipment. Non ski school patrons were mixed in with ski school children in this room. At the very least, ski school participants should receive priority for being served. But even better, I would like them to analyze the costs and benefits of moving some equipment rental downstairs to the ski school. I would like to drop my daughter off and let them employees fit her for both her skis and boots right there in the room where she’ll eventually begin her lessons. By having her sizes in my reservation file, they could have the equipment ready in the downstairs area.
This is a very simple system. But since it is broken, perhaps they need a demonstration of how it can be improved. Simulation anyone?
Application Engineer – Simio LLC