Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BART's most recent Customer Experience Failure

Yeah, BART's failure today only caused me to lose 15 minutes. Not a big deal. The point is there were multiple Customer Experience failures in the process.

I'm racing into the Fremont BART station with only a minute or two to get on the 6:06am train.  I wave my EasyRider card through the turnstile.  I then wave the same EasyRider card across the parking validator.  "See Agent" The dreaded failure message of BART's Customer Service systems.

At this point it dawns on me.  My wife mentioned last night that she had requested a new hangtag for me (mine has failed and is slowly breaking into small white flakes on my all black car interior).  This request must have de-linked my current hangtag and put me in limbo.

So I head over to the dreaded "Station Agent".  Of course the Station Agent has a negative connotation, they are there to deal with all the passengers issues.  I try to briefly (remember I only have 1 minute to catch my train, read: helpless wishful thinking) explain to her what the issue is, and I don't think she listened to a word of my explanation.  She starts working on the handy Station Agent computer system (I can only imagine the friendliness of BART's system), then asks me all the questions which I just explained to her.  She then walks me over to the Parking Validator stand and swipes my card again.  "See Agent"  Go figure.  She then states something like, "Yeah, it must not work due to requesting the new hangtag.  You need to pay for parking with cash."

Hmm, I think. This sucks for me.  While maintaining my composure (overhead I hear my train leaving the station), so I say to her, "This is a ridiculous process!".  She angrily hands back my card and says "I don't make the rules" and stomps back to her "Station Agent" cube.

So, I walk back to my car to identify the parking spot number, then come back, insert my cash into the parking machine and board the train which will leave in 12 minutes.  Just enough time to write a blog about BART's poor Customer Experience.
Summary of failures:
  • Crappy hangtags - mine warped on about day 10, then started discinegrating white pieces all over my clean black interior
  • Poor customer service - one of the station agents main job is to deal with the "See Agent" failures, the problem is I don't think they are trained to properly handle the situation I had.  Nor are they trained for any basic Customer Service skills.
  • Replacement Processes Interrupt Customer Experience - hangtag replacement request broke my daily BART process.  When designing the end-to-end Customer Experience, they should understand the negative implications of their processes.  FYI, this has also happened when updating payment information on EasyRider card.
  • Poor training of Station Agents - It seems like agents should be able to identify what situations may cause a "See Agent" error, but the error logic is so basic for the customers perspective that it doesn't provide any information to the Station Agent.
So, I think that is the end of my rant.  I'll go back to being my normal loyal BART rider.  Have a great day!

P.S. I do publicly praise BART all the time to people who ask me about my commute.  BART delivers me within a block of my office, is almost always on time, and offers me a way home every 15 minutes.


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