In the interests of transparency I thought I'd explain why some of the blog posts have changed. Specifically the ones that referenced someone from VTEC who was speaking at eCommerce Show North earlier this week. Yesterday I was asked by someone at VTEC who I have been in contact in the past to remove the specific references to the individual.
So why did I mention this person by name in these articles anyway? Simply because they were speaking at a conference that was open to the public representing VTEC and discussing (I kid you not) loyalty! Therefore it seems fair to promote this event and also do our bit to try and let attendees at this event find out more about what the customers of VTEC experience in the real world. Having a speaker talking about how they can use technology to drive loyalty may sound good in a vacuum, but given more information people can see what a shambles the VTEC eCommerce policy really is! It's fair delegates can hear both sides of the story and then use this to make up their own mind.
So why did I remove named references? I'd rather work constructively with VTEC rather than be fighting against them and while one individual at VTEC may be responsible for delivering a particular project, it is VTEC collectively that need to take responsibility for the recent poor levels of service. If VTEC send someone to go to conferences or speak to trade magazines claiming they've doing a great job then I believe they need to be held to account. We're used to high standards on the East Coast Mainline, they have to deliver and if they struggle at any point then don't fob us off with patronising nonsense claiming all is ok.
It's important to remember that when the site was launched in public beta in June I was trying to provide lots of constructive feedback. At the beginning they appeared to listen but towards the end they stopped answering simple questions like "will cycle reservations be available before the official go live?" If they had set expectations at an appropriate level they'd have reduced the annoyance levels of many. They also told customers that their bookings from the old site were safe the reality was that even if your old bookings transferred over they were only a read only view, you couldn't even view specific details like seat allocations. This poor migration meant call wait times for web support were well over an hour for the first few weeks, even now you could be waiting over 30 minutes.
It's not like it's unique to me, other customers who complained were either fobbed off or ignored. Often the social media team talked about the mythical phase 2 as a solution that'd fix everything. But GNER could launch a website 10 years ago that had the features we're now used to from day 1, whereas on this new site we're still waiting. We don't know what's really planned for phase 2, when it's planned to be released and indeed whether it really exists and this is all because of poor communication. They'd rather escape reality and claim everything is great rather than set expectations at a realistic level.
I would like to point out that I stand by everything I've written about the website roll out. From a customer perspective it has been a massive setback and all appearances show this release has been badly managed. As someone involved in delivering large scale IT projects I understand the difficulties but also stand by my belief that the project has been implemented badly.
In that blog post I did point out that although the eCommerce team were responsible for delivering the project that there may have been other influences that meant they needed to release even if they weren't confident that it was really ready:
We're only seeing this from a customers perspective here. It's possible that the eCommerce team had their hands tied and had to launch the new site before it was ready due to a decision made by senior management, it's also possible that David Horne (the managing director) had been shielded from the details of how much of a disaster launching the website in the current state would have been. One of VTECs values supposedly is to 'Do the right thing' and that's what we suggested they did before they launched the new website.
I am happy to defend any of my statements but I'd rather get back to a dialogue with VTEC where I can provide constructive feedback. At the moment the VTEC mode of operation seems so customer hostile, let's get back on track!
^DH - in the blog section, views are my own. Not those of Save East Coast Rewards in general