March 18, 2017The Vidanta Online Reservation System was relied upon and heavily used by Vidanta's members. It was easy to use and displayed inventory that was available for use. Booking weeks was painless.
But, then a new system was introduced. It was to have replaced a relatively easy system with a much better one. Result: Disaster - no more online reservations and no announced replacement for calling the Customer Care Center to make reservations.
Is this a unique story? Evidently not. Consider the following experience noted in a weekly newsletter by Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist in London, England:
Two observations, neither one of which makes us feel that much better because the reservation system is still broken:
My car is due for a service, so this week I went to the local dealer's website where they have a rather fancy online booking tool. I entered my registration number and up came the details of my car. Then I was asked to select which day I wanted, and after that, I was allowed to choose a time slot from those that were still available. All well and good, you might think. So did I. It was particularly encouraging when I received an email confirming the date and time of my service appointment.
Two hours later, though, I had a phone call where I was told that the appointment I had booked wasn't available and that I would need to rebook. "But I have confirmation," I said. "Yes, we know," said the lady at the other end of the phone, "but the online booking system doesn't work because it isn't linked to the system where we book services over the phone."
Madness. If a company is going to offer an online app but then fail to integrate that with its existing processes, then it is not actually providing an online system at all. I see this all the time when I am consulting with businesses. They come up with fancy online methods which make everyone go "wow, that's brilliant", but then fail to back the idea with proper integration with existing systems. One of the case studies I use is of Marks and Spencer. They neglected to back their website ordering system with good logistics meaning they had to cancel people's orders just to cope. It's all very well seeking to have a fantastic online presence, but if you don't back it up with efficient and effective back-office processes, you may as well not bother.
- It appears there are companies whose management does not think through the entire process before offering online services, so we members of Vidanta are not alone in the world of cyberspace, and
- The result is a mess that reflects badly on the company and its management.
The surface is beautiful! But snafus created by not linking the chains that lead to great customer experiences tend to reduce confidence.