Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting your customers on-board - lessons from the bus

The public buses in Melbourne seem to have at least one design improvement opportunity.  In order to identify which bus is going where, customers who are walking from the rear side of the bus have to creep up the side before craning their neck around the front of the bus to see the destination posted.  This strange dance is usually accompanied by a mild sense of panic that goes along with catching any form of public transport - fear that the bus, train, ferry will leave without you.  The fix is easy - post the destination on the side and even rear of the bus so that no matter the direction you approach, you can see the where the bus is headed.  In other words, communicate from the customer's perspective...literally.

Like most things, this doesn't at first glance seem like a problem sufficient to warrant a refit of the bus. But think about those extra 5 steps x number of people needing to confirm destination x number of stops x number of routes x number of days per year and you can quickly add up to a lot of inefficiency.  Not to mention the risk posed as unwitting customers step in front of the bus as it takes off. 

The lesson for marketers? Look at your product from every angle that the customer may use it.  Does it effiiciently communicate all they need to know or do the customers have to adapt their behaviour to understand how to use it?  If you are making your customers look at the front before they are ready to get on-board, you are not doing your job.

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