Archives for posts with tag: Trust

Since I went away with the extended family for a warm weather break a few weeks ago, this is the first in a 3-post series on holiday travel. I was tempted to call this post the Ryanair Scam part 2, since they have recently introduced a rule by which you can only have your cabin bag in the overhead locker if you’ve booked priority boarding. Otherwise it goes in the hold. This is fine if you already have a large bag in the hold, but a pain if you’re travelling light, since you have to factor in extra time and effort to retrieve your bag from the destination baggage belts.

I recently experienced this policy at first hand. The reality is that it works pretty well if, as I mentioned, you already have large holiday bags checked in, at additional expense of course. We did, so it was a no brainer and it means less to carry on and off the plane. However, it’s a ton more work for the hard-worked, exasperated gate crew – the check-in/boarding staff and baggage handlers – who now have to manually tag and load around 100 additional non-priority bags per holiday flight.

As it happened, our flight was delayed leaving. The conveyor belt into the plane from the baggage carts broke, presumably under the workload of having to deal with many more bags than it was used to. This turned a useful conveying device into a shelf, so the bags had to be manually carried into the hold.

This is what often happens to a process which you’re constantly tweaking and looking to improve. You pinch here, you feel it somewhere else. Ryanair do keep moving, changing, innovating though. Fair play to them for that.

Just when you thought Ryanair were getting better and becoming a little more customer intimate – not too much mind you, because that would cost money, ask the pilots – Ryanair pulls what it probably considers to be a master stroke, and what passengers will feel is a low blow they can’t do much about.

We booked a family holiday a few months ago, towards the end of last year, paying for 2 check-in bags and planning to carry a cabin bag each, and a small bag to fit under the seat in front of us. There was no mention that I saw that the regulations were about to change.

A couple of weeks ago we started to get emails about a change in cabin bags, effective shortly and before we actually take our holiday. From this date, unless you have priority booking you can only bring on one bag that fits under the seat in front; you can’t use the overhead storage at all.

WTF! I went back and checked my original confirmation email and there’s no mention of a new cabin bag restriction. Ryanair has gone back to its policy of only one cabin bag, except that now it has to be smaller than before. Clearly pesky customers have been using all the overhead storage and that will not do.

As always, what’s at stake here is the principle. I’ve written before about how Ryanair competes primarily on operational excellence – and this is about operationally squeezing the last cent out of passengers, making them pack even lighter and still avoiding baggage check-in, thereby guaranteeing Ryanair comfortable flight turnarounds – rather than product leadership or customer intimacy. Presumably they’re allowed to hide behind small print that says ‘we can change the terms any time we like’, but to enforce it from the date of travel, rather than the date of booking, when they’ve got pre-booked passengers over the proverbial barrel, is petty, inconsiderate and will probably net them an extra few hundred grand.

Why do they do it? Because they can. For now.

You’re familiar with the phrase ‘who’s policing the police?’. One thing that has recently taxed my brain is this: who’s watching the recycling?

As a nation, Ireland is pretty decent at recycling household waste. Better than the Brits and way better than the Americans, not as good as our Teutonic friends.

Our actual waste wheelie bin is dwarfed in weight by our recycling bin, which goes out every fortnight full to the brim, if bins have brims. We’re very good, as a family I think, at reducing, reusing and recycling.

But, just because we recycle well as a family, that don’t mean a thing once our bin’s contents are upended into the recycling waste truck. What happens then?

I sure as heck don’t know. For all I know, they might be throwing the recycling into landfill. Maybe people aren’t as judicious with their recycling and are adding items that can’t be recycled. How are the waste companies sorting the different types of recycled material? Are they removing non-recyclable stuff? Again, I don’t know. We’re trusting in a process that we have no visibility of whatsoever.

We’re pleased with ourselves at how good we are at recycling, yet we’re not actually recycling. We’re starting the recycling process but we’ve no idea how it ends, or in fact how much of it ends.

What do you understand by the term ‘product roadmap’? There are lots of definitions, some narrow and some broad, some internally focused and some market- or customer-focused. And how detailed should a product roadmap be? Should it pin your detailed colours to the mast, or should it be high level, allowing you room for manoeuvre?

I think that over time B2B customers have become somewhat desensitised towards product roadmaps. This is especially true in the software industry where the sheer complexity and number of moving parts, combined with the influences of individual customers, conspire to make roadmap projections aspirational at best and at worst downright misleading and fictional.

The pressures on the business in a dynamic landscape are changing all the time, and I’ve seen businesses where products or product enhancements have arrived 2 or 3 years after they were advertised to come on stream.

But back to product roadmap definitions. The one I use when asked this question defines a product roadmap as a plan of product or platform developments, delivered through a release mechanism – which could be a few or several times a year – through properly managed projects and programmes. After all, you’ve got to be sure that all the parts of the business can fulfil their element of the whole product solution. In other words, the roadmap should really be about when new releases are delivery ready, not sales ready. By all means seed the market, and build the demand to allow for the natural lag of a sales cycle, but publish your roadmap based around genuine availability.

Customers love to see detailed roadmaps, but only if you actually can commit to the associated timings, otherwise the trust quickly evaporates. Just like in sales, you’re only as good as your last quarter. Software development never seems to build in any buffer for the inevitable bumps in the road – probably because the front of the business is pushing for the earliest possible delivery date – and when those bumps occur, it’s very hard to get back on track. That’s why I fall back on the principle of under-promise and over-deliver to customers, and pushing back to the business. The customer comes first, so I’m in favour of high level roadmap pronouncements that strike the right balance between demonstrating progress and allowing wiggle room, so you can be on time, on brief, and maybe even on budget.

Empty Promise - No Paper

Empty Promise – No Paper

Don’t make empty promises, promises you know you can’t keep.

Don’t offer things you don’t have. You’ll create a need for something that people now want but that you can’t deliver.

Don’t invite people to use your resource sparingly and then have none of that resource available.

If you run out of something, remove the notice or label it refers to, or amend your stock to say – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘out of stock’.

These are all easy things you can do.

Remember, you’re looking to establish a relationship with your customer, one based on trust and the mutual expectation that each can deliver their side of the bargain. Don’t blow it by failing to do the easy stuff.

Otherwise, you run the risk of phantom marketing, creating demand which you can’t satisfy. You’ll annoy your audience, turn them off and break whatever bond you had built up. Then you’ll have to work doubly hard to get it back.