When looking at what value your company provides to its customers it can often be classified into the 3 E’s

  • Efficiency
    You provide something faster or cheaper than the customer doing it themselves.
  • Experience
    You have done something a number of times before and its better value or lower risk for a customer to get you to do it, than it is for them to learn to do it themselves.
  • Expertise
    The customer is attempting something that hasn’t been done before (or no experience of its exists in the local market) but your Experience in similar areas means its lower risk if you do it compared to them.

When looking at Innovative ideas it’s often a good approach to see which classification the Innovation is likely to deliver value under:

  • Changing a process to achieve efficiency gains
  • Packaging up a solution to deliver lower risk
  • Inventing something completely new that is a game changer

In the area of credit card payments we are seeing some Innovation occurring within certain retailers.  You may not have noticed but at McDonalds if you pay by credit card and the purchase amount is under $30, you no longer need to enter a pin number.

A similar capability is now available at Countdown if you have a OneCard Visa.  Any purchase under $80 with this card no longer requires a pin number.  And in fact they go one step further and provide tap-to-go that means you no longer have to insert your card and select credit card, you just tap the machine and your away.

This Innovation is definitely aimed at the Efficiency E.

If you think about the time-saving achieved by this capability, you are probably going to save all of a minute in the process.  Not much of an efficiency for you.

But if you take an example of 60 people going through the checkout at McDonalds or at Countdown, then we are talking about a one hour saving.  This increased efficiency in the checkout process will result in increased throughput, and in turn will result in shorter queues.

I don’t know about you but queue size is definitely one of the sub-conscious measures I know my brain uses to determine my level of happiness when going to a fast food outlet or a supermarket.

As an aside I am amazed that fast food outlets don’t seem to use any sort of optimisation process to work out the level of staffing they need at peak times.  I  was at Burger King the other day during the lunchtime rush, they had two people on counter and one manager assisting them (no idea how many people out back).  Both queues had over 10 people in line, as the poor counter people struggled to take orders and then fulfil them.  Even without a statistically significant optimisation or forecasting model, let alone a social media based sentiment analysis, you could tell it was’t working or giving customers a happy ending.

The other thing I noticed was there was no culture of achievement being displayed.  The team were up against the odds and they were no doubt going to have to deal with grumpy customers, but they were just wombling around filling orders.  If they had provided a sense of they were working as a team to try and “knock the bstdr off” then I think customers would have cit them a bit more slack.

Anyway next time you toying with an Innovative idea, have a go trying to work out which E it falls under.