Being the tech junkie I am, I spent much more time then I had to at the three Apple Stores in Manhattan, when I was there in December. Besides my lust for toys, I got fascinated with the way Apple managed to create a store which offers a usability that is as superior as the the usability of their software. Of course they use quite a bit of tailored hard- and software to achieve that. Their portable counters speed up things as do receipts via email. Extra features like the genius bar and regular workshops add to the experience as much as the firewall guys who approach clients instantly when they come in and redirect them. Color coded staff is also a very smart idea, that I had not really seen in a store before.
I write this despite generally being pissed at apple for their policies concerning digital property and their tendency to create locked systems and to mock customers (as they did when not putting all the software that the iPhone comes with on the iPod Touch). They get away with all that, because the seem to have a monopoly on usability. Don’t ask how that is possible.
The exact opposite experience when it comes to usability is this years Transmediale. Just like in the last two years buying a ticket is the ultimate challenge of ones patience. Today I waited 30 minutes with only 5 visitors in front of me. It takes averagely 6 minutes to process one person, the maximum can be over 10 minutes. The reason is not only the large number of different tickets, but also that everybody who buys a pass that is valid for more than one event needs to register with name, address and phone number or email address, so the ticket can not be passed on. Besides that even people who have a pass need to pick up tickets at the same counter, because they want to make certain that that all people who buy individual tickets get a seat. Last year the problem was even worse because at the location (Akademie der KÃ¼nste) there was not enough room for the long waiting lines. Fortunately Haus der Kulturen der Welt offers more room. Nevertheless I am in disbelieve how the organizers can be so ignorant of the fact that their system is not working out and annoys everybody. I was one minute from just leaving and boycotting the whole festival for for the next ten years.
Have you heard of wristbands? What about abandoning the system with tickets for singel events and introducing half day or evening tickets? It works for other festivals and after all making enough money on tickets is only a question of a good mixed calculation. How hard can it be?