Tushar Shinde

The Complex Solution

How often do you come across a situation where you get to know that there’s no way out of this problem which you’re facing?

Doing business, or doing good business is not an exception. We, by our sole human instincts try to avoid failure at any cost to prevent the aftereffects. But O dear lord, that’s not gonna happen. And it is not surprising to see yourself doing mistakes till the very end until the business dies out. The same goes with building or managing a product too. In my startup journey, I did make many mistakes and other times came up with crazy solution which worked as well, but that’s the topic for some other time.

Let me tell you about one similar story I read recently.

If you have travelled by a plane anytime, you must be knowing that to claim your baggage you have to use the baggage carousel. You have to get down from the plane, walk through the huddle (or sometimes in an airport bus) to get to that carousel, which is pretty hectic provided you had a long flight and you just want to head back home to your loved ones.

Houston airport is a pretty crowded one and mentioned is the real situation the management came across. Thousands of people travel to and fro every single day. So, after a long flight with unease and jetlag and discomfort, people had to get down and walk to the carousel to claim their baggage. Now it takes them 1 minute to get down from the plane and to the carousel and almost 8 minutes to wait for their baggage to arrive. You see, 88% of the time is wasted in waiting. Result? Increasing customer complaints! We people hate having no idea about what to do and simply be idle.

Management tried implementing various solutions to increase the customer satisfaction.

  1. They tried to deploy more manpower for handling and transporting the baggage to the carousel – A really costly solution having not more than 30% to 40% of resolution. Plus, it comes with the opportunity cost.
  2. They thought to automate the process – Which itself is even costlier and also changing the entire practice at how baggage handling works on the airports. Cost Vs Benefits ratio broke the walls of management room.
  3. Speeding up the carousel – If you think closely, this pretty inefficient solution could have never worked out and would even have increased the complaints of non-complaining users. So, this solution has side effects.

So, how else would you reduce the average wait time for the claim?

Sometimes, it’s a good thing to zoom out a little and focus on a more deeper need of the customer. Is time really a problem here? Or people just didn’t know what to do with the time in their hands? What would happen if we address a more deeper need?

Facebook simply did not make another social networking site. they addressed the people psychological need of getting connected to other people around you without having to face the anxiety or nervousness to talk to them in person. I bet most of the guys have had started talking to other girls this way 🙂

Back to the problem, the final solution that Houston management came up with is to move arrival gates farther away from the main terminal. Would it help? Absolutely! Now it takes passengers almost 7 minutes to walk to the baggage claim compared to a minute before. By that time, all the baggages are ready to be taken from carousel. They have no idle time, and people have accepted it as a standard airport infrastructure.

You just have to observe closely. Not every problem requires a complex solution!

One Comments

  • Akshay Andhare

    December 20, 2019

    Hmm.. nice insights .. keep it up..


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