Process inconsistencies hit the customer... Again.

I rented a van last week. Just a standard Luton van. I used it for transporting some set pieces to the performance venue for a local group I am a member of.

When I went to the rental location I took my drivers license and the associated 'paper documentation' which is issued by the UK DVLA. This details all the endorsements "points" you have as well as your entitlements to drive (Motorcycle, Heavy good vehicle etc.)

I've rented vans from this location before and they have my details on file so I filled out the form, signed on the line gave them my credit card and went. The guy didn't ask to see my license or paper documentation but did ask if I had any endorsements since my last visit (which I hadn't).

This week I had to rent a van again now that the production has finished. I asked a colleague of mine to drive me to the rental location. At the desk the woman asked me for my driving license (Which I supplied) and for the paper documentation. I told her she didn't need it as the last time I rented a van I hadn't needed it and all my details were on file. She insisted that I needed to produce the paper documentation. I told her I hadn't brought it because last time I brought it to this same location I hadn't been asked for it.

She insisted that she needed to see the paper documentation before she could rent the van to me. I told her that I didn't have it with me and she would have to phone the DVLA to get the authorisation (This is a 'fall-back' process which has been put in place for just such a situation)

"It's Sunday" she said. "The DVLA isn't open"

So, in other words, because she is following a different implementation of a standard process, I would have to schlep myself back home (with my colleague who had dragged himself out of bed early on a Sunday morning) just to get a piece of paper which I had told her was all in order and wouldn't need to be checked when she got it.

Stifling the urge to strangle her (or at the very least to use harsh language) I went back and got the documentation and the deal was done.

But it got me thinking. Where did the process break down? I had taken the right documentation last week but hadn't been asked for it. Obviously it wasn't needed as part of the process otherwise I wouldn't have been able to take the rental van. If this was my first time renting with them then this would have been different, but because they had my details on file the process was modified. If a licence had been needed to rent a van the process would have stopped me from taking the van away when it wasn't presented, like a credit card. A credit card was needed to rent the van. If I hadn't taken a credit card then I wouldn't have been able to rent the van. Therefore the credit card was needed, but the license wasn't. It might have been desired, but it wasn't needed.  If it wasn't needed, then I shouldn't have had to schlep back home to pick up the documentation this week.

If, on the other hand, the first guy had made a mistake and let me take the van without seeing the licence - despite the fact that it was needed - then their internal process is broken to such an extent that a major check such as this was bypassed. Either way this company has a problem.

As a customer the aim of the company should have been to make my interaction with them as painless and as rewarding as possible - especially in a service industry. But this company obviously doesn't work that way. To quote the BPM guru's on the web 'The company doesn't use 'outside-in' thinking". It's one of the process maxims: 'Keep it as simple as possible'. Having my details on file was meant to keep things simple. Requiring me to produce additional documentation was complicating things when it wasn't needed.

Should I avail myself of their services the next time I rent a van, or should I go elsewhere?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

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