Thursday, January 25, 2007

What Works Best. - Communications or Department Names?

Whilst out buying a sandwich today, I spied a group of yellow-bibbed Transport For London (TFL) workers and police taking people's details and fines for not paying fares on the bus. This was quite a commotion, presumably intended to be a show of strength that "we'll catch you if you're bad".

On the back of the TFL yellow-bibs were the words "Revenue Protection" which no doubt is the name of the department the employees were from. However, in the light of recent massive transport price increases I think this wording conveys a poor impression of TFL. It doesn't say "we need your fares to reinvest in the system so your journey gets better" it says "we must make profit". I'm sure this is a cue for many people to avoid paying fares (obviously not me as I am such an honest citizen).

How different it would be if the bibs instead displayed a message intended to impact customer behaviour or attitude. Even a less obviously profit oriented department name such as "Fare Dodge Squad" would be an improvement. Fare dodging is naughtiness to be reprimanded, whereas taking money from a corporate hell-bent on making profit at all costs is surely an objective that would encourage many.

Either way, I doubt this activity will change fare-dodgers' behaviour. They're fare dodgers after all and the thrill of getting away with it, as opposed to simply trying to avoid payment, seems to me to be half the point.

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