A particular change was noticed, in my last two visits to a local McDonalds’ outlet : Some sort of control was being applied on distribution of tissue papers. First time I thought of it as accidental; but my further observation indicated it as a practice.  I noted a definite reluctance from the boys there, even when the customer asked for more tissues.

Then I observed a similar practice being implemented in the flight I took this week- in one of my favourite domestic airline: The hostess was moving around with a pack of mineral water bottles – instead of offering the bottles to each and every passenger, they were giving the bottles only to those who asked for it. A subtle, but noticeable change.

The writing was on the wall – Service providers were optimizing cost, through possible cost saving practices.

Nothing wrong in any of these practices – especially the second one – as both are clearly strategized to avoid wastage.

But from my view – both had one negative characteristic: both the minor changes that were introduced, were ‘visible’ to the customer, and in some cases even inconvenienced the customer! I felt this is very important aspect that service providers should be taking care of!

I was reminded about the initiatives many service providers took in similar circumstances – which provide the required cost savings – without directly or visibly impacting the customer:

Like the 1987 story of American airlines removing ‘one Olive’ from the salad that they served in the flight. I am sure there wont be many passengers who would have noticed that!  Think about an estimated $40,000/- saving per year through that!!

While cost optimization is always important, it is also critical that the service providers take care these cost optimization initiatives do not come from attributes directly affecting the customers. There are many ways the same can be achieved through optimization on minute details and internal activities, keeping customer experience and perception intact!

IT Service providers too need to look at the ways of cost optimization at areas that doesnot affect the customers and users directly.

It is really amazing how observations made while you are a customer can leave an impact on your actions from the other side of the fence!