Guestblog by Melanie Duffett

Turning negatives into positives on passenger transport

Two things caught my eye while travelling this week which made me question why people can’t see a positive way around some negative customer situations.

Firstly, the ongoing debate around HS2 reached my local paper under the headline Paying the price for HS2.  The landlord of the award-winning Bree Louise, a pub set for demolition if HS2 goes ahead is campaigning strongly to keep his pub.  Why wouldn’t he?

The journalist asks us to contemplate next time we are enjoying one of his local award winning craft ales whether we’d rather relish this experience or simply get to Birmingham quicker?

Personally, I contemplated how fantastic customer service and award winning refreshments could still have a future if he relocated and saw HS2 as a business opportunity instead.  Perhaps Bree Louise could also go high speed- offering their produce ‘to go’ with super fast bar service; freshly pulled pints and hot pies for boarding passengers to take the pub experience with them.

I know life isn’t that simple, but with change comes the opportunity to do it better, different and to also make progress rather than fight it.

Which brings me to the second situation…  

London Blackfriars station is warning passengers that owing to vandalism, the station toilets will no longer be free and a 30 pence charge will be enforced.

I can see how the public area of a station could be vulnerable to such activity, however, the vast majority of visitors will just want a public convenience.

Charging as it’s done across London’s main stations’ toilets is neither convenient for visitors (trying to find or change up 30p whilst dashing for a train) or for the station who then has to handle cash and pay a member of staff.

The rest of the network operates on cashless payments through tickets, Oyster or contactless bank cards.  Maybe the coin turnstile could be replaced with platform style barriers and visitors could use their ticket or card to access the toilets?

Firstly, it’s an easier, quicker and more convenient way to pay and secondly, it can act as a simple verification for an individual to get through a barrier and no charge really need be taken.   And of course, there’s also the excitement of potential data identifying visitors or vandals, loo access apps, and loyalty schemes…!

In both cases imaginations don’t need to run wild to see how shifting from a default, defeatist stance could instead create a better customer experience.

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