Saturday, July 21, 2007

System down

This is a sign you will see often in India. I have seen it at Railway ticketing counters, bus ticketing counters, retail shops and many other places. Any place which has an electronic system of any type can be held hostage by it.

Many years (not that many) back I used to work in finance for a company. We had a few banks where we somehow distributed whatever money we did not have. 3 of these were "super-efficient" private sector banks, but as a legacy of the promoting business house we had one dowdy government bank to deal with.

Each morning, when we called to check our balances, the three private sector banks would say, "Our systems are not up yet" or on other occassion, "our systems are slow", but the dowdy bank never had such an issue. Sure, the staff was almost anti-customer, but their systems were never down. They would, at glacial speed, look at their ledger and let us know the balance and most of the time the answer was "same as yesterday." Needless to say, we took full advantage of float...

But the point is, the system is increasingly becoming an excuse to offer less than good customer service and many of those who work in "systems" organizations know that systems dont go down so fast - especially simple point of purchase billing systems - which creates doubts in the entire customer experience. Which is bad, because the system is supposed to make things work.

Now, having said this, do you have a plan B, when your system fails? If you dont have a plan B to make the system work (and considering you expect your system to fail once a few days), you better have one or else your customer will have a plan B.

1 comment:

Balanarayan said...

I am from Bangalore Mirror, and I found your blog ( interesting. I wanted to know if I could use your blog for log talk section, in our paper where we feature Bangalore based blogs?
please mail me your permission to nt.balanarayan at, if you are okay with it