Never, ever, under any circumstances…take a bus with that bus company that starts with a G and is a breed of dog. The strikes incurred by the company are outlined below. (Skip to the big headings if you want to avoid my angry rant.)
#1.) Attempt to buy tickets online and print at home: FAIL.
Since each of my FOUR e-mail addresses were rejected as ‘invalid,’ I had to order the tickets ‘will call.’ That resulted in twenty minutes of standing in line to get tickets. COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY standing in line.
#2.) Waiting in line: FAIL.
Customers started queuing up ONE HOUR prior to the bus departure, so I was part of a line-that’s-not-going-anywhere for a full sixty minutes.
#3.) Having enough seats on the bus: FAIL.
I got to the front of the line and the busdriver informed me that he couldn’t get any more passengers headed for New York City onto the bus. Period. Yes, I had a ticket. Yes, I was waiting for the proper bus.
#4.) Move to another bus: FAIL.
I was quickly shuffled to another bus, leaving twenty minutes later. It was full to capacity — and some people were sent onto the bus after it was full. They had to leave, carrying their luggage and banging it against every passenger in an aisle seat on their way out.
#5.) Legroom: FAIL.
Perhaps the seats were created with people under 5″ in mind. There was no legroom. My knees were jammed against the seat in front of me for a full 2.5 hours.
#6.) On time: FAIL.
Of course the bus left a bit late and arrived much later than scheduled. Of course.
What’s this mean for all you Brand Campers?
If a customer points out a flaw in your business, listen.
I’m sure I’m not the first person who’s suggested assigned seating on the bus. Assigned seating would eliminate the need to queue in line for the bus and would eliminate those ‘oops! We’re full!’ moments. Likewise, if a client points out the difficulty of using your online proofing system or an inconsistency in your pricing/contract/etc…take it to heart. (Please?)
Apologize when you inconvenience paying customers.
If a gallery is going to be late or you’re running behind for a meeting, let your client know. Don’t be completely hard about the whole experience and then run to your bus when you’ve created a flash mob. Apologize. People understand. Simply expecting their cooperation while jerking their chain is NOT okay.
Charge more for a better experience.
If bus tickets cost twice as much but the experience didn’t suck, I would still buy them. If you’re overwhelmed with six sessions a week and want to transition to three…you know what to do. Amp up the experience. Underpromise and overdeliver. Blow clients away. (Oh, and buy Easy as Pie, of course.)
When all else fails…take the train.
If being an all-print photography studio isn’t working, why not open up digital opportunities for your clients? If all-digital is going down the tubes, how about expanding to prints? If you hate shooting weddings, try something else. Same goes for kids, dogs, families, iguanas, commercial work, architecture, nature, fine art, portraits, and mitzvahs.
Don’t be afraid to jump ship when something just isn’t working. You can bet that my Amtrak ride was comfy and awesome on the way home.