Sometimes we think technology has gone as far as it can, but every day experiences remind us that this is not the case.

Historically I have always bought train tickets at the station on the day of travel.  A few weeks ago, I stopped doing this and started buying all my train tickets on my phone.  Why the change?

Moving to mobile ticketing

It started because I was late.  I feared that, by taking the time to buy a ticket, I would miss the train.  So, I did it on the mobile en route to the station.  And it worked – simple, seamless delivery of a barcode to use at the gates. 

The technology has been available for ages.  And I have tried to use it in the past.  But the end-to-end experience was just not good enough before.

Changing behaviours is hard work.  There must be a reason to do something in a different way.  And the experience must be so amazing that you never want to go back.  So what makes the difference?

The critical role of user experience

In the case of buying train tickets on my mobile, the following parts of the chain were important to me:

  • The app needed to be reliable, quick and intuitive
  • I wanted to store my credit card securely within the app, so I can pay quickly each time
  • I want my tickets immediately, alongside a simple receipt that I can store
  • I need to be able to quickly open the app and show tickets to a guard
  • The barcode must be read at the gates as quickly as putting a paper ticket into the machine
  • The cost must be no more than buying at a station

This is a complex and demanding set of criteria and if one single aspect does not perform, the customer will probably not return.  We live in a world where we download an app and, if it does not meet our expectations, we uninstall it immediately, even though someone might have spent months developing it.  We want technology to simplify the complex, to save us time and to empower us.  And even when it does all of this, we are not always keen to pay more for it.

Simplicity everywhere

The growth of reliance on the smartphone means software must deliver to a new standard of usability – one where we can navigate it with a single finger.  And this is the standard, not only for consumer propositions such as Uber or Spotify, but also for business software solutions.  Because nobody has time anymore to go on a course to learn about new software.

Technology will never stand still, and I am looking forward to witnessing how the likes of AR, VR, voice commands and gesture-based technology will transform our daily life.  But the technology platform itself is not enough unless it is applied to deliver a frictionless experience that the user values enough to repeat.