Burnt Toast Society - Are You a Member?

Improvement Insights Blog

Burnt Toast Society – Are You a Member?

Do you ever order toast, but it comes burnt? Do you eat it or send it back? How often does this happen to you? Yesterday it happened to me three times in one day. What can we learn from these quality failures?

“We’re babysitting our daughter’s dog; she’s only 10 months old and she needs some exercise, so we took her to the Hobnob daycare center. When we got there, the woman up front, kind of with a gruff tone, said “Well, you need to make a reservation.” My wife Shirley said “Well, our daughter made a reservation.” “Well, I don’t see it here,” you know? It’s like “Well, I’m telling you, she made the reservation. She got a confirmation in an email.” And then she looked all gruff about it but well “Look, just make sure you make a reservation,” right? Well, that that was incident number one.

“Right next to the Hobnob is a Dunkin Donuts, and every once in a while my wife gets a jones for a Dunkin Donut. We pulled out and started driving home but we drive by Dunkin Donuts on the way home and I said, “Maybe we need to satisfy that Dunkin Donuts craving.” We pulled in and Shirley went inside and ordered a chocolate glazed donut, and the woman at the counter (a young woman) said, “Uh, so a chocolate glazed donut?” Shirley said yes, and so she went ahead and bought it. Guess what? We got it all the way home without looking at it and discovered that it was not chocolate glaze it was just a glazed donut.

“Later that day I was having a late lunch with my friend Eric after a round of golf and I ordered a shredded beef burrito at the golf course… I mean a shredded chicken burrito, sorry. So I ordered a shredded chicken burrito but guess what showed up? A ground beef burrito. Now it was getting late in the day, and I didn’t want to have to fight rush hour traffic that day so guess what? I went ahead and ate the ground beef burrito.

“So that’s three times in one day: they didn’t get the order for the dog, they didn’t get the order for the donut correct, they didn’t get the order for the burrito correct.

“Now our daughter has a phrase: she calls it “the burnt toast society.” That’s where you order something with toast and the toast comes and it’s burnt. Now, do you send it back because the toast is burnt? If you don’t send it back, you’re part of the burnt toast society, so I was part of the ground beef burrito society yesterday. You know, it takes too much time to return one donut or you’re time pressured so you just go ahead and say “I’ll just eat the burnt toast.” Well, I think we have to let people know what’s going wrong, and very often I do, if I have the time and willpower to fight that battle.

“I want you to get this idea that it doesn’t matter how good your product is or your service if you get the order wrong. Lately I’ve been trying to call and make an appointment with some people and guess what? They never answer the phone. I don’t get an email back. It’s like, “What, are you are you people in business?” I know you’re in business, but guess what? I can’t even get through to make an order, an appointment, a something.

“So it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you’re ordering and the customer service process at the front end gets it wrong. All right? So don’t be part of the burnt toast society. Send it back and make them pay for being stupid, all right? And then I think we can start to get people more engaged with “Oh, I need to take the order correctly.”

“Let’s create a hassle free America; hassle free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

This entry was posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.