Why does this have to be so hard – I just want to book a flight!

Microsoft has a wonderful "self help" culture whereby employees are easily able to directly access services online. Sadly there is a brand new system that isn't any where near as easy to use as it should be.

The reason for writing this post is to encourage you to question whether you have similar nonsensical user experiences and if so to ensure that future systems make more sense.

I'm reading a book authored by Seth Godin titled "small is the new big" in which he ruminates on "Painfully Simply" amongst hundreds of other concepts. He includes the following:

"...the web guys at the company are probably not the same people as the folks... If they were, the entire online buying experience would be centred around me... not them and their need to accurately describe the hierarchy of their store."

Reflecting upon the following experience makes me question whether the authors of the our new travel booking system had ever tried being a user...

Until a few days ago I could simply phone our corporate travel agent up via an internal telephone extension, sit on hold for a while, try to get to speak to someone who's system was up and running and make a booking.

The new system promises online convinience. Sadly it's hardly simple.

Here's the experience. Whilst connected to the corporate network I browse to our general purpose portal site and select "book travel" from a handy menu titled "I want to" - this is a good start.

A new page is displayed detailing the corporate travel policies. Part way down a list I find "book your travel online". In turn I'm directed to another new page which is full of blurb detailing what the new online booking tool is capable of...

Buried in the text a couple of paragraphs down is a link titled "SSO application home page" - the description informs me that I won't have to login as there's an automated referral system. Upon hitting the link I receive...yes you've guessed it...another page.

From the "SSO application home page" I select "Online Travel Booking Tool" which takes me to...another page.

The new page lists some of my personnel details, informs me that they'll be shared with the travel agent if I proceed and gives me the option to "Login". At least I'm able to click a button to hide this screen in future.

As this is my first visit to the site I'm informed that I must enter all kinds of details including my passport number et al to create a "profile". The really frustrating thing is that I provided all of the same details for their manual system! Upon completing the form I'm presented with ANOTHER PAGE...

Eureka I'm actually able to book flights, car hire and hotels!

AAARGH. Twenty minutes have passed since I started the "painfully simple" task of accessing the online booking site. I've trawled through five separate web pages each promising to let me book my travel online and just about lost the will to live in the meantime.

Why couldn't all of the descriptive content that effectively tried to sell me on the benefits of the tool have been linked to as "why the tool's great" rather than being in my face - I knew from the start that I had to use it as the manual system had been depricated!

Comments (3)
  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m off to Belgium tomorrow and, fortunately, I’ve just printed my boarding pass. Despite plans to the

  2. Anonymous says:

    The last person I punched was a schoolboy. Before you report me for child cruelty, I should point out

  3. Daniel Moth says:

    I agree 100%. Whoever designed that site certainly didn’t dogfood it or they would have never released it in its current state!

Comments are closed.

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