Recently I went to my local bank to access a locker. The manager, who is supposed to have the master key for all lockers, was not available. Why?
‘Having his lunch sir’ was the reply.
‘But, it is not lunch time’, I looked at the wall clock, ‘it is already 2:30 PM. Your lunch time is 1 PM to 2 PM, Right?’
‘Yes sir; But our manager usually takes lunch at this time only. Please wait; He will be back in 15 minutes.’
‘See, I have no time to discuss about your manager’s strange lunch time habits. I need to go back to my office as soon as possible’, I raised my voice. ‘Why should he take lunch at this unusual hour? Why not complete it in your official lunch time? He is wasting my time and I can’t allow that!’
The clerk explained in a calm voice, ‘Sir, our lunch hours are 1 to 2 PM only. But most of our clients are office goers like you; for them also, the lunch hours are 1 to 2 PM.’
‘So, these people prefer to visit the bank branch during their lunch time. They get irritated if the bank is closed.’
‘As a result, we had decided on our own, to change our lunch times to serve them better. For your information, I am yet to take my lunch!’
‘I appreciate you doing this for some customers, But I am a customer too, I came to the bank at regular working hours and you are making me wait because of some other customers who came to the branch at a wrong time. Is it fair?’
That was my knee-jerk reaction. But when I think about it later, this is a very interesting question. The manager of this branch is actually doing a good thing for few customers (who visit the branch in lunch hours), while doing a bad thing for few other customers (who visit the branch in regular work hours). How to release this lock?
Do you strictly follow your lunch time rules and send back few customers? Or
Have a flexible lunch hours’ system and disappoint few other customers? Or
Remove lunch break to the branch by introducing a shift system, making sure some staff member will be there always? (means, additional cost) Or
Avoid the need for customers to visit you personally by providing (almost) all services online or in phone (means, additional cost in the beginning. But self service benefits may balance this)
There can’t be a single best answer to this. Each industry may see this differently. But the point is providing best experience to your customers by being available (physically or virtually) for them always!