I mentioned in my latest post I was working on a new project, one that valued simplicity over complexity. I can now talk about it a bit more.
I had approached a local cab company about the QuiCR product. Unfortunately, given who his largest market demographic was, (most of his fares do not have cell phones, let alone smart phones) we decided it wasn’t a great fit.
But, as I mentioned, he had made an off-hand comment about something he would like: namely an ability to allow a smaller demographic of his, the local college students, the ability to send a text to his dispatcher and request a cab.
This is one of those design ideas that’s both deceptively simple and complex at the same time. It’s simple because “Receive text, display text, allow a response” about describes the problem.
Now, the simplest solution obviously would be a to give the dispatcher a cell phone with texting capabilities. That would also be the wrong answer. For one thing, his dispatchers work at a frantic pace and time is off the essence. While some folks may be able to whip off text messages using “text-speak” in seconds, his staff isn’t among those with fingers that nimble.
It also doesn’t provide for easy reviewing of messages and threads and the like.
So, the trick was coming up with a computer interface that was simple enough that it could be adopted with only a few minutes of training and that wouldn’t interfere with their current manual dispatch system.
The keyword there is manual. Yes, there are systems out there with all sorts of bells and whistles that can integrate with GPS, credit card systems, IVR and much more. Those systems also costs a LOT of money. And in at least one case, a vendor was suggesting that to adopt it, he hire another dispatcher to handle the increased load. Note the load wasn’t necessarily from increased business, but simply from the complexity of the system. Now, don’t get me wrong, in a large city where you have dozens of cabs, such a system is the right approach and scales well. But, it doesn’t scale very well to smaller companies.
His dispatchers use a very manual system. And it works. Hopefully my new “text-dispatcher” will integrate well with the current system and generate some new business for him.
Sometimes, simpler is better, but harder