There are many occasions when I am at risk of sounding like a stuck record. Akin to a ‘grumpy old man’, poor Mrs Golding has to constantly endure my expressions of dissatisfaction whenever I experience something that I perceive to be unacceptable to us and others as customers. It is in my opinion an occupational hazard – and a hazard that rears its head all too often. If the world was able to more consistently offer great experiences, I would have less to be grumpy about!
No industry is able to escape scrutiny. As I go about my daily business, some are experienced more by me than others. Over the last two years, I have spent a considerable amount of my working life travelling – around the UK and the rest of the world. My office has become almost virtual – from the car, to the airport to the train station – you name it, and I have worked from it. In our technology enabled world, it has become increasingly easy to work from anywhere – as long as I have my laptop, my phone and an internet connection, I can do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it…….well almost.
The problem with technology is that it requires one key ingredient to work. That ingredient is POWER. The bigger problem is that as technology has evolved, and our reliance on our smart devices has increased, access to power has not changed at the same rate. Last year I travelled to Malaysia to deliver a two day Customer Experience workshop. I had a six hour stop over in Abu Dhabi. Travelling in economy, I did not have a nice comfy lounge to relax in. What I wanted to do was work, but I only had a couple of hours battery life in my not very sophisticated laptop. After a considerable search the only locations where I could access a power socket were in the smoking lounge or in the corridor opposite the departure gates. I ended up sitting on the floor with my laptop perched on my knees. Most unsatisfactory, but a problem that I am experiencing all the time.
The problem rears its head most often at night. As more and more of us go to bed with our smartphones (and hopefully our partners!!), we now NEED (rather than just ‘would like’) a power socket next to the bed. Apart from the fact that we need to see the vital emails that are received during the night, our phone has also become our alarm clock. Despite this fact, the sight of a power socket next to the bed in hotel room is almost as rare as a complimentary bottle of champagne! I find it astonishing that even in newly refurbished hotels, the nearest power socket to the bed is the opposite side of the room. Does the person who designed the room not own a phone? Do they not live in the current century?
Hotels are not the only problem. Our desire for POWER is constant. I regularly meet colleagues and clients in coffee shops up and down the land. I find myself having to carefully select the coffee shop knowing that it may have a power socket I can sit next to. So many coffee shops and restaurants are lacking on this front. I am a regular traveller on the rail network in the UK – some of the trains I travel on have power sockets – many do not. It is so frustrating. Having a virtual office is fine……but not if I cannot access power when I need it!
We live in a society where our expectations have grown to new levels. I expect organisations to have thought about the way our behaviour has changed and re-design the experiences we receive as customers accordingly. A coffee shop that has a plug socket next to every table is one I guarantee will be occupied continuously throughout the day – and more so than its rival next door that does not. In my mind it is not complicated, and it is not impossible.
Last week I attended a very interesting conference on the future of the high street (in the UK). One of the companies exhibiting provided my inspiration for this blog post. Qiconnect (http://qiconnect.co.uk/index.html) are a lovely small business based in Portsmouth. I very much hope they succeed in their mission to provide us with the power we need so much. They have the solution to the problems I have described, and deserve visibility. Their solution is easy and economical to implement. Their website describes what I want perfectly:
Imagine sitting down for a cup of coffee, and placing your phone on the table. The phone lights up, and starts to automatically charge – without connectors or cables. You could simply grab your phone on your way out in the morning, and charge it wherever you needed to – at home, the office, the airport, the local coffee shop, or in the car. It would be even better if you didn’t ever need a charger – simply forget about USB cables, chargers and adapters when travelling.
Sounds great doesn’t it? The even greater thing is that this is available to buy and do right now – at the conference last week, the coffee tables were wirelessly enabled to charge my phone. During the breaks, I placed my phone on the table, and it miraculously started charging – it is amazing! Imagine if the bedside table in your hotel was enabled with this technology, or the tables in your local coffee shop? No longer do we need to care about plug sockets, or power cables – we can just put it on a suitable surface and it starts to charge. So simple, and so possible.
Technology like that provided by Qiconnect is absolutely vital in continually improving the customer experience. If your organisation is not in the position to be able to afford to redesign the infrastructure that provides your experience, then solutions like theirs still make improving the customer experience an affordable reality. Inventors and innovators identify changes in the way we behave and develop solutions to address those changes. The first challenge is to identify the change. If you put yourself in your customers shoes, you will see the changes happening in front of your very eyes.