An interesting article in Business Daily Africa takes a hard look at how increased business efficiency can lead to a slump in customer service.
"..modern technology came to their rescue by introducing the barcode. Today, every supermarket worth its salt has a scanner system for reading these codes.
In addition, virtually all manufacturers now print the barcodes on products to make it easier for supermarket staff: the bulk packages are now simply unwrapped and the items taken to the shelves directly. This saves a lot of time.
Unfortunately, a new problem has emerged: in the hurry to display products, workers do not take care to ensure that a price tag has been posted on the shelf next to the items.
The workload increases as demand for their products rises. Consequently, management begins looking for ways of making work easier for the company. Many times the improvements are made at the expense of customer services."
It's an excellent reminder that progress in business should always be tempered with an eye to that most valuable of creatures, the customer.