No this is not about the fictional best attorney in the world.
Longtime and careful readers of the blog know that we take interest in many of the mundane aspects of modern life. One thing that has always bothered us is the management of lines at commercial establishments. The way things now exist, when you pick a line, you enter a “time” lottery. If the fortunes of fate shine upon you, then your line moves quickly. If however, a problem occurs, you can be in “line hell.”
Have you ever wondered what takes so many people so long to buy a movie ticket? It’s a simple transaction: walk to the teller: tell them the movie, the time and number of people and tender payment. But we often see lengthy discussions involving multiple individuals, quizzical expressions which end up taking much too long to buy a simple ticket.
We often ponder what is actually being discussed:
“Hi, I’d like to buy a ticket, change my seats on my upcoming flight to Osaka, Japan, check to see if I should refinance my mortgage, and pay for the entire transaction in German marks.”
Teller: Sure- this should take about an hour, give or take, depending upon the latest currency market report.”
Word now reaches us that the supermarket chain Whole Foods, new of late to New York City, and facing smaller stores with large customer traffic, has adopted what we call: “the bank line system.”
In the “Bank line system” there is one line for multiple tellers. As you approach the front, you run no risk of queing up behind the customer from hell. The problem with this system is two fold: from the vendor’s prospective, the longer line that the system generates, tends to scare off people and they leave the store before they shop.
From the customer’s perspective, you bear the risk of what we call “institutional line break down” or ILBD.
We’ve seen ILBD a hundred times at our own Au Bon Pain. The good people at ABP tend towards the “bank line system” which is good, but they lack the fortitude to keep the system running through long lines. Thus, when the line gets long, then either a nefarious customer will walk up directly behind the individual ordering at one of the cashiers- as if the other 20 people standing in line are stupid- or one of the cashiers will get nervous seeing a long line of 20 people, and shout “form three lines please.” The resulting new lines are noticeably shorter- but here’s the rub- the wait is longer.
Que management analysis scientifically proves that the “bank line system” effectively manages lines and cuts wait time significantly. The only issue is customer perception: “Wow this line is long. Forget it.”
As always, education is the key, and we are starting now. We call upon Au Bon Pain to “stay the course” and hold tight to the “bank line system” even on those Monday lunch hours when jurors, attorneys, and clients all pile in seeking a hot cup of soup on a cool August day.
Perception versus reality. The topic is lines, but you easily apply the analysis to North of the Border- they appear to be running a court system, but in reality…..(add your own punch line here).
See You In Court.