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Do you ever notice those pot holes in the road? I have more and more since I have recently managed to get out on the old cycle a bit more recently. Being the polite chap I am, I was not tempted to spray a big cock and balls on them like self styled penis doodler and pothole avenger Wanksy to get some action from my local council.
Through a few helpful tweets from two local councillors, I was pointed to a handy council site to report them. All so far, so good, I was directed to 'Report It, Pay for it, Find it'.
This was until you actually try to use the site using the current internet surfing weapon of choice, iPad tablet or Smartphone. I won't name the North West English council in question, but it does highlight how self service can easily fail at the first hurdle. If I did name it, that might selfishly delay rectification of my pot holes somewhat too.
When rendered on an iPad, the webpage allows two questions to be answered, about Category (Road Surface Carriageway) and problem (Pothole) and access to a useful location map. From there, it is impossible to scroll down to another 13 questions, to actually complete logging the problem.
|Be a highway star - Log your faults online|
Luckily I have a laptop I use for work and when the same webpage is accessed using that, all questions are revealed. The good news is that I logged about a dozen pot hole locations, many of which could be really hazardous to cyclists, but also could result in expensive car damage too. The bad news is that it was not a good customer self service experience.
With the explosion in tablet usage, unless issued with a laptop or conventional PC from work, the options are to (1) not bother logging it, or (2) create a waste call into the council or organisation.
Now, in fairness to that council, it does at least offer a map to locate your pothole, unlike the neighbouring one that only supports image uploads. A sneaky peak at the HTML source of the original council webpage, shows it to be generated from .net version 7.1, which means it could date back as far as 2003. It was probably quite respectable back then for customer self service. Thirteen years on however, it falls somewhat short.
While new customer self service projects hopefully will focus on a tablet and Smartphone owning customer base, increasingly older portals will suffer from the same issues as here. If you have customer, tenant or citizen facing portals, is it time you gave them a test on a raft of modern devices? Different sizes of Android devices, Apple iOS and also Lumia / Surface. While its impractical to support everything, everywhere, a basic level of usability must be provided at least.
Organisations could do a lot worse than do a re-test annually too, maybe targeting their younger family members. These are the generation of tomorrow and if that portal fails the 8 second test, its unlikely many will be hanging around to self-serve.
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Related Post: How well trained are your Excel users? Well enough??
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Catatonia - Road Rage.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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