Unfortunately, although we have a great rail infrastructure in the UK the service does seem to fail us in many ways and it's expensive. However, I came across a nice bus service from London to Oxford that changed my behaviours and I think it is changing others too. Instead of taking the train, or driving because the train service keeps failing, I can take Oxfordtube. Normally taking a bus/coach would seem like the dull, cheap choice, but the clever bus company has chosen to up the ante and added a wireless network, breakfast on board, DC power and wide seat space. It also has seatbelts, so they are thinking about safety too. The bus might take longer but it's never delayed leaving and you can work away on the trip and munch on a nice breakfast. I know at least one car driver that has replaced his car journey with this bus ride because of these perks.
OZOcar in New York* took a similar tactic to introduce hybrid vehicles to a 'luxury' market who are used to driving or being driven in expensive, large cars. They focused on the car service experience — again adding features like a wireless network, digital radio, DC power in car, and training the drivers to deliver optimum service. The whole model challenges the existing car service industry on service AND introduces a more sustainable form of transportation. It led with service.
Local food and farmers markets kind of do the same thing, althougsh I am not sure how intentionally driven the service experience has been. A lot of people start shopping at the market because of the service experience (combine this with the fact that the product is often superior to what is found in a supermarket) — interacting with farmers and friendly people on the street, in the fresh air, in a small community atmosphere where part of the sell involves a tasting and conversation about the provenance of food. If you can afford it, the market experience far outreaches the typically anti-social, cold experience of shopping in a large supermarket.
Buying second hand goods had in the past never seemed sexy. For a select few it might have been a passion; for most of us it was once pretty undesirable. That is until the service experience that is E-bay www.ebay.com came along and made the process easy, fun and even slightly competitive. Has anyone else noticed 'E-bay Sofa Envy' trend? Every time I visit a friends' new pad, be it in New York, London or Oxford, I get "Yeah, we got our (oh so cool) second-hand sofa from E-bay, it was a bargain". This is something E-bay has created through their service experience. Think of all the reuse they are responsible for.
I'd like to see more companies leading through service experience and changing consumer behaviours in positive ways like the examples I espouse.
*Please note I need to make it transparent that I am currently working with OZO.
Written by Tamara Giltsoff