When High Quality Data doesn’t Yield High Quality Service

Better data quality is a prerequisite of better quality of service but unfortunately high quality data doesn’t necessarily lead to high quality service when the data flow is broken. This happened to me last night.

ubicabs2When landing in London Heathrow Airport I usually, economically as I am, use the train to reach my doorstep. However, when I have to catch an early morning flight I order a cab, which actually has a very reasonable price. So yesterday I decided to book a cab in order to cut 30 to 40 minutes of the journey home on the expense of a minor amount of extra pounds.

Excellent data capture

Usually I just call the cab, but as I arrived by airplane and my local cab service is part of an online booking service, I used that service for the first time. The user interface is excellent. There is rapid addressing for entering the pick-up place which quickly presented me the possible terminals at Heathrow. The destination was just a smooth. As the pick-up is an airport they prompted me for the flight number. Very nice as that makes tracking delays possible for them and also you can check that the airline and terminal is a correct match.

Also they have an app that I geekly downloaded to my phablet.

Going down

Landing times at Heathrow are difficult to predict as it often happens that your flight has a couple of circles over London before landing due to heavy traffic. Yesterday was good though as we came directly down and therefore were ahead of schedule.

ubicabsSo it was OK that my name wasn’t at the signs held by drivers already waiting at the passenger exit. Actually I was so early that I could have reached the not so frequent direct train home. But as I now already had troubled the driver to go there I of course waited while spending time on the app.

There actually also was a driver tracking on the app. Marvelous. At first glance it seemed the driver was there. But then I noticed a message saying driver tracking wasn’t available and therefore the spot in the terminal 3 building would be my own position or requested pick-up place.

Going crazy

5 minutes after requested time the driver called:

“Where are you Mr. Sorensen?”

“I’m at the passenger exit where all drivers are waiting.”

“OK. I’m just parking the car. Go to the front of the coffee shop and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

I spotted a coffee shop in front of the lifts to the short stay parking and went over there.

10 minutes later the driver called:

“Where are you Mr. Sorensen?”

“I am in front of the coffee shop”

“Costa Coffee?”

“No. It has a different name…”. After some ping-pong I mentioned terminal 3.

“Terminal 3?” the driver responded. “I’m at terminal 5. I was told to go here. I’ll be with you in 5 minutes”.

Going by car in 5 minutes I wondered. That would indicate crossing the runways or using the train tunnel.

Well, while spending more happy time on the phablet the clock approached the point where I would be at my doorstep using the slow train.

40 minutes after requested time the driver arrived. I was waiting for the mandatory sorry that Brits use even when they are not sorry at all.

Instead the driver greeted me with: “Did you order the cab yourself Mr. Sorensen?”

“Yes I did. On the internet.”

“Internet?” the driver replied.

“Your company has an excellent online booking system” I friendly remarked.

“When I called you first I asked for confirmation about where you were”.

As I realized that he was trying to establish that everything was my fault I presented the confirmation on the app.

ubicabs3We continued (without the usual smalltalk) to the destination. Here the driver (instead of a discount) presented an upgraded version of the price on the booking confirmation.

At that point it was too difficult to keep calm and carry on…..

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4 thoughts on “When High Quality Data doesn’t Yield High Quality Service

  1. Prashanta C 11th January 2014 / 16:03

    Henrik, a great example of High Quality Data High Quality Service. Similar situations I have gotten into when the premium price didn’t result in a premium service. Sometimes it’s worse than a regular service as in this case. I tend to stick to a known devil instead of relying on an unknown angel.

  2. Service Objects (@serviceobjects) 12th January 2014 / 17:04

    Great post! In the race to be technologically ahead of the curve, some companies forget that “quality” customer service is still just as (if not more) important! Cheers, Wendy B.

  3. Phil 14th January 2014 / 10:14

    Great post. But in what sense is this High Data Quality, or did I miss some sarcasm? 🙂
    The Data didn’t reflect the real world and by that definition is poor quality so there’s no wonder that poor service followed.
    Provision of technology and an app is not a benefit. Timely rendezvous is a benefit and in this case the technology did not help to achieve that.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 14th January 2014 / 10:36

    Thanks Prash, Service Objects and Phil for commenting.

    Phil, I think the initial data capture by the online booking system indeed produced high quality data as entering the pick-up place and destination was supported by functionality that suggested real world places which is superior to just letting you type something that might not exist because of typo or misremembering or something that could be ambiguous. Also the system recognized the pick-up as an airport (again real world awareness) and thus requested additional useful information.

    What apparently went wrong was that these high quality data wasn’t directly passed to the driver. Instead he was probably given an oral instruction, or maybe received a re-entered SMS, in which process terminal 3 became terminal 5 and the flight information was probably lost too.

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