Much of the battle for customer experience is keeping up with customers. What worked well a decade or even a year ago could be completely ineffective now thanks to changing trends and technology. This week brought three stories of how companies need to continually re-evaluate their experiences to stay relevant.
Amtrak Ends Dining Car Service
It’s the end of an era for a classic American journey. This week, Amtrak announced it is ending its traditional dining car service with white tablecloths, fresh food and reservations. Instead, train passengers will be served prepackaged meals in their rooms or in more casual dining cars, which will eventually transform into lounge-like spaces. The change is motivated by evolving customer demands and finances. Amtrak says younger customers prefer a more private dining experience instead of having to eat communally with their fellow passengers. Taking away the nostalgic dining car experience will save Amtrak an estimated $2 million a year.
Amtrak’s announcement takes the train service away from its nostalgic roots as it aims to attract a younger crowd. While many millennials prefer experiences over things, they also want flexibility when they travel. The updated approach to train dining could bring in a new wave of train customers, even as it changes the long-standing tradition of classic train dining. Amtrak’s attempt to change its on-board experience for new customers is a risky move, but one that could pay off with the next generation of travelers.
Amazon To Let Customers Pay For Online Purchases With Cash
As e-commerce has grown in popularity, the amount of cash most Americans carry with them has dropped. Many consumers make the majority of their purchases online with a credit card, but Amazon is paving the way for customers to be able to pay for their online orders with cash. Amazon PayCode will allow customers to pay for their purchases at Western Union locations around the country. When they check out online, customers who choose the PayCode option receive a QR code to take to Western Union and scan before depositing their cash. Amazon PayCode is already established in 19 countries around the world, especially places where paying with cash is much more common than in the U.S.
Amazon PayCode has the potential to open Amazon and other e-commerce retailers to customers who don’t use credit cards or who rely on cash, including the elderly and people in more impoverished areas. The move expands Amazon’s client base and gives customers even more options to personalize their experience and payment.
Federal Agencies Make Push For Updated Customer Experiences
Most Americans don’t have a choice when it comes to interacting with the government, but that doesn’t mean federal agencies can’t work to improve their customer experiences. 25 agencies recently published updates on their customer experience initiatives, including metrics and goals for the future. The State Department is in the midst of updating the process to get a passport and plans to hire more employees and reduce red tape. Listening to customer concerns pinpointed areas for improvement. The IRS is doubling down on fraud and identity theft by adding more filters and improving the technology that authenticates taxpayers.
U.S. government agencies are consistently ranked at the bottom for customer experience, so efforts to improve the experience and reduce customer pain points could be very well received. In order to be effective, federal agencies must update their technology. Agencies often don’t have the same resources as private companies, which means they must leverage what they do have to find creative solutions. Learning from other industries could help agencies improve and create a more enjoyable experience for their customers.
What worked in the past won’t always resonate with customers. Keeping an ear to the ground can help companies stay on top of trends and technology to provide the most up-to-date solutions for customers.