I stopped by my usual breakfast taco joint en route to work this morning. I was distracted, peeved (some _dude_ cut me off in traffic) and lost in thought as I walked up to the sales counter. The young man behind it goes "Morning Amar, your day of to a good start?". It shook me up in a good way, I was honestly pleased that some one who knew me by name cared enough to ask me how I was doing. It was enough to change my disposition and make me smile. What was strange was that I did not know his name and I normally know the names of the sales people I interact with. It is simple basic stuff, that we all know about but that we so often forget.
(Thanks to leilei2006 for making this photo public on flickr.)
On the other hand, I have to get my car inspected from my insurance so they can give me an estimate on the hail damage done to my car. As I was setting up an appointment, the claims person says "you know there is more hail forecasted for tonight". It just occurred to me, wouldn't it be cool if you can sms all your clients this information before hand so I can find a safe spot for my car and save both of us money. The technology is there, if airlines can sms flight info. to me, my insurance company can sms weather warning to me. That would be a neat way to differentiate yourself from your competition. So why not do it?
It is because not all companies are like Toyota. It is because once a company reaches a certain size ideas are squashed under process and paper work. It is because ennui and adhering to standards replace innovation and true customer satisfaction. How is your company doing? What are you doing to change it? Oh yes process is not always bad.
p.s I recently read a post about Toyota's management style where production line workers are given lots of freedom to innovate and how it is considered an honour if an engineer can spend time on the production line. If you know what I am talking about, please consider sending me the link :)