Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good experience with poor performance ???

Yesterday evening, I was rushing to catch a shuttle to campus.  I knew the bus was ALWAYS on time and I had 15 minutes to get there.  I was 17 minutes away.  If I hurried I could make it, but if I was even one minute late I would have to wait an hour for the next one.  Of course, an hour is plenty of time to grab a craft beer at a local pub.  But it got me thinking.

This bus is pretty rare, running so exactly on its schedule.  But I was thinking of the following reactions for someone in my situation:

The 5:00 bus arrives at 5:00
  • If I arrive before 5, I am satisfied that I don't have to wait extra for the bus. 
  • If I arrive at 5:03, I am really frustrated.  JUST MISSED IT!!!  DOH!! Now I have to wait an HOUR!
  • So net-net, the customer experience is negative.
The 5:00 bus arrives at 5:03:

  • If I arrive before 5 and the bus was late, I would have to wait 3 extra minutes.  A little sad, but 3 minutes is no big deal and better than most buses.
  • If I arrive at 5:03, I would have expected to miss the bus.  Imagine how happy I would be if it was running 3 minutes late and I made it. Whew!!!  On the other hand, I would have only myself to blame if I missed it, since I was late.
  • So net-net, the customer experience is positive.
Of course, this depends on the ratio of people who are on time v late.  But my point is that it may make sense, for different populations of riders, to intentionally have a bus run just a little bit late.  Not enough to annoy the people who are on time, but enough to make the people who rushed and rushed but were a little bit slow to make it.

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