A Road to Nowhere

I was in central London the other day, I was in no hurry to get to my next destination, but it started to rain, so I jumped on a bus. After a couple of stops I noticed a tourist having a hard time getting on the bus. His English was fine, he knew where he wanted to go, he was on the right bus, he had money to purchase a ticket, yet he couldn’t get one!

Why? because you can’t purchase a ticket on this bus, you have to purchase it before you get on. So here is a guy that is willing to pay for a service, he has the money in his hand, he’s willing to hand it over in the most logical way, directly to the driver, the guy offering the service, but someone, somewhere (more than likely a bean counter) decided that it would be more efficient & save time, if consumers pre-purchase their tickets, thus freeing up the driver’s time & making the schedule run more effectively. But that’s no good to this guy, he has to get off, find a ticket machine, purchase a ticket then get back on, this process takes more time, so the driver decides that waiting isn’t an option and drives on, leaving this guy behind as he purchases a ticket!? Not a good scenario, the driver could have waited, he didn’t, he had a schedule & job to keep, the passenger could have purchased his ticket beforehand, he didn’t, but he didn’t realise he had too. So who’s to blame, the driver, the passenger, the bean counter? The answer is all of them & none of them!

You could argue that the passenger should have read the signs & bought a ticket, or that the driver should have waited, or that the schedules should allow for this, or that the bean counters shouldn’t get involved in the first place, and you could come up with plenty more reasons, but essentially this approach doesn’t work for a simple reason, because it’s been designed to improve bottom line & efficiency for the bus service & not effectiveness & convenience for the customer, do the latter & you’ll have more passengers than you can handle, which is good for business & something you can solve, so that’s a good thing!

Another example is the incredibly useful & easy to use iPhone app MyRail, that gives real time rail time tables & automatically locates your nearest station using the built in GPS. But it doesn’t work anymore, not because the software is broken, but because¬† National Rail Enquiries has stopped the app accessing their database. Why, who knows! So rather than allowing me to use an application that is easy to use and convenient for me, with the sole purpose of allowing me to know what time the next train is so I can purchase a ticket. They would rather I logged into a website that doesn’t work on most mobile devices, and when it does make it so tricky & time consuming to get the info I want, that I’ve missed the train, so decide to jump in a cab instead!

This example is madness, why aren’t they looking at the bigger picture, the opportunities are their… if someone wanted to leverage your business or offer a service to your customers that you’re not offering, don’t stand in their way, embrace the fact with open arms, they’re helping you sell your product and they’re servicing your clients where you’re not. If someone is that much of a fan about your products don’t stop them, encourage them, you’ve more to gain than lose!