Thursday, March 16, 2006

Customer Friendliness turning to Customer Annoyance

I had talked about how Businesses must help customers embrace new technologies.

Last week, I chanced upon the other end of the spectrum. My cousin was going out to pay his Electricity bill in Bangalore. He let me accompany him. It was 8:30 in the evening. I asked him what office would be open at this odd hour. He replied that the payment would be accepted by an automated machine. The intrigue demon in me started pouring out a thousand questions. I decided that the best course of action would be to accompany him.

Fixed to the wall was the humongous machine. It was a usual machine with a touch screen, a scanner bar to read the bill and a slot to accept cheques or monetary bills. What surprised me though was the extent to which BESCOM had gone to make the machine customer friendly. On the left side of the machine were bulleted instructions that stretched from the top of the wall right till the bottom with an impressive 25 steps to be followed to ensure the bill is paid correctly. The instructions were both in English and Kannada.

No wonder than that by the time I finished reading the entire panel, my cousin had paid not only his bill, but our neighbour's too. The fun part is yet to come. We finished and were about to start back when the next customer started having problems. His notes were all oiled and were repeatedly being spewed out of the machine. We exchanged his notes with a few crisp ones I had in my wallet. Again while starting back, there came the next customer who was an illiterate who could neither read English nor Kannada. My cousin's heart melted. he showed him how the machine works. By the time we were done, we had paid a total of 6 bills including two of ours.

All in the name of technology friendliness. I sometimes wonder if BESCOM ( Bangalore Electric Supply Company ) should provide us some discount for having educated their precious customers of the way the bills need to be paid :-)

Howz my simple pictorial instruction to the customers ? I have achieved in 5 pictures what they have done in 25 textual steps.
Hope this lights some bulb in babudom !!!

1 comment:

Sreekanth said...

HI VJ,

Very thoughtful of you to post solutions to 'clear and present' problems. I would say a good step forward by BESCOM, that. This idea(of putting photographs to illustrate the bullet points) I think would be a very good idea to be suggested to BESCOM people. It should better be done sooner than later, as (for the lack of ideas), they may shut that new system down, altogether.

All the best.
Sreekanth.

btw, was that neighbour us? :)

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