Services and people

Written by Julian Sykes

cardiff bus
This morning I went on a magical mystery tour of a ride around Cardiff. Every now and again I catch a bus from Canton to the Bay. It is one of those routes that goes everywhere and pretty much circles the city. This morning the driver accidentally took a wrong turn. I think this is only the second time in my memory when this has happened to me but it did get me thinking about service and services breaking down. It is probably best to describe it through three different perspectives.

PERSPECTIVE ONE - the bus driver
He regularly drives through Canton on the number 17 bus route that arrives opposite central station. He is used the route in fact the route has become routine. He is on autopilot. This week after many months on the 17 route he is doing 2 this is a different route going to the Bay but is does share a section of the road that is the same as the number 17. So routine kicks in and before he knows it he has passed the turning he should have taken.

He instantly panics and tries to correct by turning around with no roundabouts nearby and it being rush hour he is unsuccessful and aborts his attempt. The traffic has been manic all morning and he already is a bit late so he decides to try and get back on track but unfortunately he is going to miss a few stops out of the regular route. He is now late and frustrated probably under pressure to be on time and is now rushing to catch up.

Could this have been helped?
Local knowledge is a great thing it helped the driver out to re-find his route, however the familiarity probably also caused the issue. Would it be best to give drivers totally different routes from their last?

PERSPECTIVE TWO - the passenger
For me as a passenger this novelty has given me many things. A quick bit to talk about in the morning in the studio. The novelty has allowed for a different feel to getting to work. A different perspective almost.

Could this have been utilised?
Broadly thinking could routes be random? would this create newness to getting to work? would we be better off?

PERSPECTIVE THREE - the potential passenger
This is the most interesting for me in the scenario. They have no idea what has gon on. There is no empathy of the issue and as far as they are concerned another bus has not turned up.

Could this have been helped?
Would it have been possible to bring the story to this passenger. Give them the understanding of the issues and what has happened?

I think ultimately what I saw today made me think about services are as strong as the people who deliver them. We are all human and make mistakes. But I think it is the way organisations open up to these mistakes that will be the making of future great services.