Saturday, July 17, 2010

How long can it take...

How long can it take to get your movie tickets?

I had the opportunity to test out the efficiency of the movie ticket line versus computer carousel last night, and the electronic lost. My daughter and her family entered the (longer) traditional line the same time I joined the (shorter) carousel line. She got her tickets before I did. How could this be? I estimate my line was at least ten times shorter than hers. Could it all be blamed on my compatriots' relative computer illiteracy? I think not. They were as motivated to get through the line as quickly as I was.

This is important stuff, because as businesses incorporate larger electronic solutions, their expectation of course is that efficiency will follow. When I ponder the GARP© principle of "Accessibility", which I rate as the most critical, I am convinced that turnaround times are critical to success. People are sensitive to waiting times, as we can see as a ten-to-one preference for the longer line at the cinema. If the electronic "solution" hinders, people will find their human work-arounds. The possible consequence is failure or abandonment of the e-solution.

What went wrong?

First of all, I think we underestimate the efficiency of the human interaction. We have eye-contact with the ticket-taker. I smile ingratiatingly. I lean in to the hole in the plexiglas, "Twoforsexinthecity". She hears ....sexxxx.... and sees me hold up two fingers. A few practiced pecks on her screen, and the tickets spit out. In seconds we are sending and receiving a hundred signals at once. Sound, expression all play a part. The ticket-taker infers and fills in the gaps in context.

The computer carousel by comparison is a passive receiver. I must learn it's patterns and behaviors and adapt to it. Will it first ask me for my SCENE card, or which movie do I want to see? How and when will I fill in the amount? And is it adaptable enough to accept my bank card? I think with tweaks the computer carousel will become faster - if the cinema is motivated to reduce the human element in ticket sales. And I think it is.

The lesson for business is to pay attention to their turnaround times. What is the turnaround for the average human-orchestrated transaction? Does the electronic solution compete? Does the computer ask the questions in natural order? Check speed in testing, and tweak, tweak until the e-solution can match for speed.

I notice the cinema now offers print-at-home tickets, which I am ashamed to say I haven't tried yet. How much you want to bet they print out in color? My cartridge is gold, and I squander it for no man ... even in the interest of research.