Friday, August 19, 2011

CX, UX: Chicken Fingers, and Cancelled Flights

The ice was already melted in my to-go cocktail from the bar down the street (they look the other way, as long as you return the glassware) when I realized that the two lines at the Chicken Fingers ʻnʼ Beer Place for After Soccer were roughly equal, but I was waiting on the slow line.

As a professional Engagement Architect and User Experience consultant, I had questions.

Fortunately, I also had a framework:

1.0 Why?
Always the first UX question

1.0.1 How hungry were the children and parents waiting for me to order for them?
Create personas for users, and prioritize their needs When would the inevitable meltdowns begin?
Time the rollout of phases and features for user acceptance and engagement

2.0 If I left the line to get another cocktail, should I (a) come back at the end of the fast line, or (b) ask someone in the slow line to hold my place?
Consider and plan for social options

And then a phone behind the counter rang, revealing the workflow issues throttling the slow line, and proving once again that there's no substitute for observation in the field in UX work.

Figure 1: Customer Service Workflow: Chicken Fingers ʻnʼ Beer Place for After Soccer

This was amazing to behold:

i. Two cashiers.

ii. Two lines.

iii. One phone.

iiia. The cashier on the slow line answers all the phone calls

I perceived a pattern here, and I had questions:

(a) How many people in the slow line had no idea they were also effectively in line behind people calling on the phone?

(b) How many noticed?

The situation reminded me of the debacles at airport gates when flights are cancelled and some people start banging on and shrieking away at their phones, while others remonstrate with the ticket agents.

I had a proposition to test: What if, while I was standing in line, I called my order in?
Would I see the cashier answer the phone and take my order ahead of, well, me?

I pondered the ethics, until it was my turn.

And I thought about how situations like this are everywhere, and how the questions around them are always the same:

  • What will it take to fix this?
  • What is the price of not fixing it, vs. letting things continue as they are?

At the chicken shack, the possible solutions are obvious. Only one phone? Get another. Too short staffed? Staff up.

What are the issues where you are? How would fix them?


  1. soccer season is about to start up again

  2. Oh you shoulda called. That would be a great story, at the very least. It could be that your social options would be negatively affected by this move, but so what? The gain would be worth the loss.

  3. dev -- right, but i was afraid of what might happen if the people behind me saw someone come out from behind the counter with a bag and deliver it to me