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Do you innovate with customers in mind?

Innovation is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, but I see far too little innovation in the customer experience. A case in point is the Short Line Bus company (part of CoachUSA). I ride the Short Line bus several times a month, and there are many innovations that would be nice, such as heaters at the bus stops, or electronic displays that tell you when the next bus is coming. But that’s not what they changed recently. They made the tickets bigger.

Yeah, I expect that was at the top of every customer’s wish list. Bigger tickets. And I don’t mean just a little bigger. No, these new tickets are the size of a small Latin American country. We’re talking mega-tickets. If they were any bigger, you could board a plane with them. Take a gander for yourself:
shortlinetix.jpg
The ticket on the left–the old one–was about the size of the credit card. The right one won’t even fit in my wallet.
Now, understand, this isn’t a big deal. I mean, I’ll get over it. But if they were going to innovate in ticketing, why not do something customers care about? Why not offer a monthly pass instead of making people buy tickets for every blessed bus trip? Since most customers are going into New York City, why not let them use their NYC Metro Cards as their tickets? In short, if you’re going to change the tickets, why not make a change that improves the customer experience?

Coach USA Short Line Bus/Transport of Rockland...

Image via Wikipedia

But that’s not what they did. I still don’t know why they changed the tickets. I was hoping that maybe it helped people who were visually impaired, but when I asked several Short Line people, they either didn’t know or told me that this was due to “the new ticketing machine.” I hope the next time that they change the tickets that they do it for a reason that customers care about.
How would your company pass the same test? When you innovate, when you improve things, are you improving things for your customer or for yourself? If you think your customers aren’t paying attention, you’re wrong.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Kathryn Arnot

    My local Tim Hortons did this to me recently. I thought a screen that would verify my order while in the drive-thru was being installed (which would be very exciting) and instead the screen is advertising Tim’s new Caramel Apple Fritter to me.
    Accuracy vs Advertising.
    I know where Tim Hortons stands.

  2. Avatar Heather Villa

    I see this type of stuff all the time. This is a good reason for customer surveys. So as a business owner you can find out the things that are important to your clients and what they’d like to see improved.

  3. Avatar lpgen

    As businessman we must caring about our client, like you do. That the good point I learn from your experience.

  4. Avatar rod pallain

    I see this type of stuff all the time. This is a good reason for customer surveys. I thought a screen that would verify my order while in the drive-thru was being installed (which would be very exciting) and instead the screen is advertising Tim’s new Caramel Apple Fritter to me.

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