My sister’s family is in town, partially to visit relatives and partially to celebrate her son’s birthday.  Will has absolutely fallen in love with Pixar’s Cars, so my sister asked if I could order him a Lightning McQueen cake for his birthday.  Two weeks ago, my husband ordered the cake at a local Albertsons, and yesterday at 4 pm he went to pick it up.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be writing this blog had we picked up the cake and went our merry way.  Instead, there was no cake.  The bakery staff attendant, being non-apologetic, rifled through an accordion file folder with labels for each day of the week, Sunday through Saturday.  She couldn’t find our original cake order, so she finally peeked inside the last folder labeled “Advanced Orders.”  And there, shoved in a pocket, was a request for a Cars birthday cake.

We were told that nobody ever checks the “Advanced Orders” section for people who order a cake more than a week in advance, and oh, would we like to place another order for a cake tomorrow?

The moral of this story isn’t so much about having better customer service (which I could comment on, since again the bakery staff attendant acted flippant about the entire affair).  The true moral lies in business processes.  This is just one example of a business which implemented a process in order to get things done on time, but it is obviously not working. And when the process isn’t working, who is responsible to make sure something more effective goes into place?

Unfortunately, the answer here is no one.  I’m sure we were not the first, and I doubt we will be the last “Advanced Order” cake eaters who will be disappointed at this particular Albertson’s.  Processes, just like employees, need regular performance evaluations.  Someone needs to be in charge of making sure the processes are effective in achieving their particular goals.

Who is that person in your business?  And if no one is, what kind of process blunders do you think your business is making?

-Deborah Fike

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