Do Not Look at Efficiency in a Vacuum!

The business dictionary defines efficiency as: “The comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labor, etc.).”

In today’s fast-paced volatile economy, what organization would not be concerned about efficiency? However, too many companies use efficiency as the driving force to do things quicker and cheaper. The short-term result may lower operating costs, but the longer-term may be defined by decreases in both customer satisfaction and market share.

Walt Disney realized the “short-term” pitfall and prioritized his values as follows: Number 1 – Safety; Number 2 – Courtesy; Number 3 – Show or quality of the product or service; Number 4 – Efficiency.

Walt believed that a safe, courteous environment coupled with a WOW experience would ultimately take care of efficiencies. Walt said, “Front line equals bottom line.”

A great lesson from Walt: Deliver unforgettable frontline customer service and the bottom-line dollars continue to flow!

That does not mean that Walt wasn’t paying attention to creating efficient processes. Drive into Walt Disney World and you can see examples everywhere. The parking gate attendant handles two lines very efficiently. As one car is driving out, the Cast Member collects the fee from the next line. This same principle is applied in the fast food ordering lines at Walt Disney World; one person handles two lines.

The key to remember is that efficiency improvements should enhance not compromise the customer experience. A great example is Zappos, a company that began as an online retailer selling shoes in 1999 and has grown to over $1 billion per year selling a variety of clothing and accessories.

Anyone who has ever managed a call center realizes that the key to efficiency is call time…more calls, more sales, better efficiency. Or is it? Zappos founder Tony Hseih measures call time but not for efficiency reasons. Zappos actually celebrates the record for the longest call; to date, that is more than 10 hours! Tony says his goal is, “to create loyalty through wow moments and emotional connections.”

You, too, can model your business on the success principles of Tony Hseih and Walt Disney. Remember: do not make efficiency improvements in a vacuum. Make sure any and all improvements are designed for the ultimate customer experience!