I don't know why it's crossed my mind to count the number of organisations involved in taking the three of us on holiday. Here we are sitting in a hotel in Istanbul looking at the Marmara Sea from the hotel balcony. It's glorious.
But what has it taken to get us here? The list organisations with direct involvement includes: Megabus, Transport for London, Uber, British Airways, Expedia, Istanbul Transport, PayPal, First Direct, Passport Office, (for one-day expedited passport issuance as one party member didn't notice her passport expiry date), Insure and Go, and the Turkish evisa organisation.
The list of indirect involvement includes organisations behind various websites that we've consulted on currency exchange, weather, info on Istanbul, flight comparisons, hotel reviews, travel experiences, safety in Istanbul, and so on.
Then there are the add-on organisations who touched our travel in some way: suitcase manufacturers, telecoms providers – getting our devices working here, retail outlets in the airport , the third parties providing snacks on British Airways, the organisation making the check-in kiosks, air traffic controllers, security checkers, passport and border controllers, cleaners of locations …
Each of the direct and indirect 'customer touchpoints' comprise a web of systems, processes, policies, compliance, interactions, interdependencies and other connections that together make our holiday logistics work. Beyond these back office 'technical' aspects of it, are the 'human' aspects of making it work – how many people does it take to get one person safely to a holiday destination with luggage and connected mobile devices? I'm guessing that it must run into several thousand.
We've had a 'seamless end-to-end customer experience'. Everything has run smoothly and we're having a good time. It's easy to take that experience for granted. But I'm wondering if there would there be more value for me, and the people/organisations I've encountered on the way, in other responses, for example:
- Gratitude that it all works so well
- Recognition there is so much trust in 'the system' working
- Awareness that 'the system' is so complex that one tug somewhere and it could all come crashing down?
Gratitude: There's lots written on the benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude for both individuals and for organisations. Look, for example, at Charles Kerns article Counting your blessings or Dora Schmit's Effect of Gratitude on Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Customer Satisfaction both mentioned in a previous blog of mine on gratitude. If I were more consciously practicing gratitude what effect would it have on the people and organisations I encountered and would I feel differently too?
Trust: Arranging my holiday relied on me trusting the organisations involved and their proving trustworthy. For organisation proving they are trustworthy over time is essential to maintain customers. Look at the various examples of product recalls, most recently Samsung's and you'll see the damage done by trust breaking down. Whole industries can be decimated by consumer lack of trust. Tourism in Turkey, for example, has plunged 50% in the past year following terrorist attack and political unrest. Building and rebuilding trust (a lengthy process) is one set of activities. Maintaining it is another. (See one of my blogs on building trust here).
Complexity: The technology underpinning my holiday logistics is beyond comprehension, literally, as the author of Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension explains in scary detail. Would conscious awareness of this complexity bring benefits? In the day to day things like password protection, paying online, being alert to scams and so on are a necessary part of it. In organisations and society the value of knowing how to work with complexity might help mitigate risks and provide some consumer assurance.
Rather than just take your smooth running holiday logistics for granted what do you think a better response would be? Let me know.
PS: I am now home and all the logistics worked without hitch on the return journey and the human interactions were great too.