Consistency and the conflicted view of customization

I once again ve’been running around London from meeting to meeting. The use of underground trains and forging your way through the masses of people from one important session to another; remind us that the consistency of delivery and predictability of basic service platforms provide comfort to the seasoned traveler. So, once in a while a situation occurs…

Coffee, the consumption of excellent coffee, has become a major topic of discussion in most metropolitan cities of the world (well, some cities). Starbucks is one of those that has made its mark with good quality delivery and absolute consistency worldwide. So, when you arrive at a coffee station (Starbucks at a station) and the quality is not absolutely perfect, what should happen?

Waiting for the production process at Waterloo station to have my Grande Cappuccino delivered; I observed that the barista is not as organized as usual. I only noticed the uncomfortable behavior as the normal delivery is extremely quick, consistent and the hand-over process is normally smooth.

As he hand me my beverage, a figure appeared and with a serious tone announced, “sorry sir we will be re-making that for you”. As I was in a hurry and did not want to wait the 2min for another manufacturing process, I uttered “don’t worry, I need to run”. A calm voice explained to me that the drink passed to me, will not be perfect and that the voucher (just handed to me) will make up for the experience.

Absolute paranoia on behalf of the “quality checker” barista, has won over my respect and admiration. I only found out some 4min later that the drink was not as I expected. He knew that I would be questioning the overall experience the next time round, unless he intervened NOW. Did I expect the invention of a coffee that is just made for me? Not at all; just the same’ol same’ol that keeps me going while on the move.

In the world of innovation; once you have found the “perfect” formula, make sure you have a way to deploy it and deliver on the expectation is often forgotten. It’s not always about the radical stuff, but the basics being done well while you re-invent the future.