Information Sharing Is Caring

Yesterday I had the last exam of my master degree, and as usual I took the train way before I usually do to make sure that I’d arrive on time in Eindhoven. And somehow faith was playing with me, cause I got stuck at the station of Zaltbommel for over 20 minutes, and nobody knew how much longer it would take.

This happened due to a power failure at the Utrecht central station which caused the train traffic controllers to lose connections with all trains around Utrecht, including my train at Zaltbommel.

The good news of this all, however, was that the conductor of the train opened the doors and was standing out on the platform answering everyones question, and showing everybody the light signal which should become green at the end of the platform. Also, he explained that the computers in Utrecht had gone down, and that when that was rebooted we could continue.

This is, unfortunately, a rare situation with the trains in the Netherlands. Usually, I can find information about cancelled trains on the internet before I hear, let alone see a conductor on a train.

So my point is, we need more of these people on the trains, who can be seen and just show what the problem is and tell the details. People taking the train are not stupid. Sharing what you know brings much more understanding to the people, especially when it is not the fault of the people driving the train.

This is also true for other service industries, where you can usually make things better by providing an explanation. (Not always though, check this article for the entire explanation.)

But still, for every NS employee in the Netherlands, talk to your clients, especially when something is failing for you. We’re not dumb, we just want to hear the problem, after which we can do the math.