Saturday, February 15, 2014

Smartly driven

Whenever I go abroad I make a point to use public transport to explore that place. Back home in Bangalore, we seldom use public transport as it’s inefficient and less comfortable. Our recent trip to Australia was no different. It was absolutely a new place for us, but we chose to go by trains, buses and trams and never took taxis, of course with the help of Google Maps and other public transport apps.

One sunny afternoon as usual we looked at Google Maps to spot the nearest bus stop and the exact time the bus would arrive. The bus arrived on the dot and we got in. We went to the driver and told him where we wanted to get down and he told me the fare and also that he accepted only cash. I quickly started taking out the money from my wallet and started fumbling with the coins. Sensing my discomfort the driver smilingly said…

Just calm down. Take your time. I’m not in a hurry.
This was surprising for me. Back home I've seen bus drivers and conductors being rude and screaming at passengers for not giving proper change or not getting in or out quickly.

After I got the ticketing done I sat down super impressed and started observing him more. The bus reached a busy shopping area and a lot of people started getting in. I understood that the system worked on mutual trust. There was no one to check if the passengers had really taken tickets. Tickets were issued to those who approached the driver, that’s it. He smiled at everyone. Stopped the bus till everyone got their tickets and seats. Once everything was in order he closed the doors and started the bus. Then I saw a lady running towards the bus waving at the driver suggesting the bus to stop. I was expecting the sweet driver to stop the bus but to my surprise he didn't and drove away. I felt a bit bad.

Then I started thinking about why he didn't stop for the lady and what would have happened if he had. If he had let the lady in, he would have had to stop the bus till the ticketing was done. That would make the bus 2-3 minutes late for the next stop. Continuing to do this would make the bus run late. Suddenly his behavior started making a lot of sense to me.

Your customers love you for the way you are, what you believe in, the product you have built, the problems you solve, the features you have, the features you don't have and for the happy experience of using it. It will not be the same if you start blindly listening to what they ask for and change things in the fear of losing them. Then you will lose all the qualities for which they loved you in the first place.

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