Au Bon Pain is not French for "Stop the Line"
I had an interesting encounter at the Kendall Square Au Bon Pain yesterday morning. Not a bad customer experience, but something I noticed in the checkout process that might be worth discussing.
I had a bagel sandwich (wasbai salmon on multi-grain bagel) and brought the sandwich, with the order ticket, to the register.
The cashier started to ring it up and apparently made an error — she rang it up as a bagel, plain bagel. The cost for that is about $1.06 where the bagel sandwich must be about $4.
She sort of muttered and said, “Oh, I don’t want to do a void out, so here you go.” To set context, it wasn’t really THAT crowded where an angry mob would have formed (there were multiple register stations feeding from a single queue).
Here was a classic opportunity, in a Toyota or Lean sense, for her to “pull the andon cord.” She had a problem — misrang customer order. It was EASIER, apparently, for her to just give me the sandwich, losing $3 in company revenue.
If the tradeoff was “$3 isn’t worth it, let’s keep the customers moving,” then maybe that’s an OK decision. But is that decision approved as “standardized work?” Does she have the judgment to make that decision?
Or, was the whole thing a workaround?? I’m sure voiding the order requires a manager override (a theft-prevention measure, I’m sure) and that either takes too much time or it gets them a reprimand for making the error?
Wouldn’t it be the case, if Toyota ran this, that she would have a “help” button (an andon cord of sorts), where the team leader would be there immediately to resolve the problem right then and without any bad attitude? Then, maybe they would do some training or root cause problem solving to reduce her error rate in ringing up orders? Or maybe there’s a problem with the register?
I’m sure the reaction at Au Bon Pain was to just move on and never think about that transaction again. Typical of most organizations?