Those of us working in ICT and digital service delivery in the public sector are often told we lag behind the private sector. But that is frequently not true in my experiemce, and my recent attempts to hire a dinner suit online offer a good illustration of how firms can get it wrong.

In preparation for SOCITM 2013 I needed to hire a dinner suit for the evening event in London. Given that I live in Aberdeen, and didn’t want to take the suit down with me and then back up, it made sense to organise the hire in London. Searching via Google for such a service I was drawn to two companies. The first was a very amateurish-looking one which, although it offered a hotel drop and off collection service, didn’t fill me with confirdence that they wouldn’t walk off with the cash and fail to deliver.

The second appeared to be reputable, with three branches around the City, and had an online booking form which allowed a choice of branch for collection, and a selection of suit types, with all varations of jacket and trouser sizes, plus accessories. And, it didn’t demand payment upfront.

So I completed the form, declined the top hat option, and submitted the form, which gave me a confirmation screen that my order had been submitted.

And I waited for confirmation. And waited.

Two days later, time was getting tight and I’d heard nothing. Looking in my spam mail folder I found a bounced email from the original order. The mailbox to which the form had sent the booking didn’t exist in Outlook, it appeared.

I phoned the branch and explained to a very helpful assistant what had happened.

“Oh, we don’t take online bookings as the system hasn’t worked for a while!” As I discussed this with him, I checked the site again. There was no message to say not to use the online booking form, and the form itself still gave the illusion that it took and processed orders. I attempted to engage him in a dissussion about how this might impact their business – but he seemed unconcerned.

Happily, he assured me that I could pop in to the branch and get fitted and walk out with a suit without any problems.

But knowing how much effort my colleagues in local government put into making online systems work for citizens, I was surprised by this private company’s apparent lack of concern or understanding for the impact on customers and their business.

Draped in Irony – is the Public sector always behind the private sector?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *