Okay, so I am feeling a little bah humbug today but you can’t deny the fact that Christmas is expensive. Bloomin’ expensive.
The extortionate, over the top gift giving, the ridiculous amounts of food that we all feel the need to consume… It all mounts up.
Not to mention that a lot of people travel up and down the country visiting relatives, so have to add the astronomical cost of fuel into their holiday budget.
Of course, there’s always public transport which is a better value option, right?
Wrong. It was but not this year.
Yes, it’s still a good option if you don’t want to run the risk of getting pulled over for having one to many sweet sherry’s and brandy laden mince pies with Grandma the day before.
Unfortunately, though, you’re in for an emotive customer experience because you’re going to have to pay the price – a high price – for the privilege of being chauffeured by a British train.
A mere 11 weeks before Christmas, six rail companies had failed to offer the usual full range of advance purchase fares. These cheaper fares are generally released 12 weeks before the date of travel and passengers are advised to book these early fares to get the best deals.
Bit tricky, though, if they don’t actually exist because they haven’t been released!
And, of course, people don’t want to take their chances and book holiday travel too late: imagine how disappointing it would be to discover that, in leaving it to the last minute, you weren’t able to spend Christmas day with your family and, instead, had to settle for a microwave turkey dinner for one.
To prevent this, of course, travellers have been having to fork out for much pricier fares that usual.
And it doesn’t stop there.
It turns out that a lot of the journeys being offered for sale over Christmas week are actual incorrect. 2,648 to be precise.
So, let me get this straight… you’ve paid a fortune for a train ticket for a journey that might end up taking twice as long because it’s on a bus and nobody’s told you? Or it will be disrupted by engineering works? Or the trip may not even happen at all, in any shape or form?
Yep, that’s pretty much the crux of it. And it sucks. Big time.
Transport Focus, the UK’s Watchdog for public transport, found a quick frankly gobsmacking 14,806 errors in the database that passengers used to book tickets in the run up to Christmas.
That’s a heck of a lot of screw ups. I can only imagine the non-too positive customer comments that rail operator customer feedback management teams are being faced with.
I for one would be none too pleased if I found myself in this boat (or should that be train!). Particularly if I was a frequent rail user.
Because not only is the Christmas farce going to leave train passengers out of pocket but also, in the New Year, fares are going to jump up by an average of 3.4%.
Someone somewhere is either having a laugh or smoking something they shouldn’t be.
I think perhaps the rail companies should be using some of their additional New Year profits to hire a user experience consultant. Because they clearly don’t give a jot about the user experience at the moment.
Of course, there are lessons to be learnt in this for the rest of us.
Customer satisfaction feedback is of paramount importance. If you mess up, you have to admit to it. And do what you can to put it right, otherwise people will lose faith in you.
Apparently, the report from Transport Focus said that “being forced to change plans can be very frustrating”. Plus, they added that the whole issue is creating “distrust in the railway.”
Well of course it is! The elements of the user experience are presumably at an all-time low for rail companies at the moment.
And they will be even more so if any investigation into consumer rights issues show that passengers were being misled into buying something they would not otherwise have purchased. And have paid above the odds too.
Listen to your customers…
Consumers want transparency. And honesty. And mistakes to be rectified.
Whereas as opposed to making amends, the rail network seems to be making faux pas after faux pas. In fact, it is so farcical, if I was Shakespeare I would entitle it a ‘Comedy of Errors’!
So, listen up, people. If you’re looking to create a positive user experience and generate customer loyalty, don’t use these clowns as an example.
Take heed of what your customers are saying. And take advantage of services like those offered by us here at The Monachie Project, so you can get a true snapshot of your business from a customer perspective.
Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m off to buy a rickshaw so I can recuperate some of my extortionate Christmas costs by hanging around train stations to offer transport to stranded passengers.