Call me a cynic but I’m a little skeptical of most companies social media policies; usually they’re just another route for further direct marketing.
However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the use to which Blue Star busses and First Buses Hampshire have put their Facebook pages.
Throughout the recent cold snap both have used their accounts to give frequent updates about the road conditions and changes to bus routes affected by snow.
The staff have been manning the pages throughout the day and night, giving early warning of all changes and delays.
As a regular public transport user I’ve been very grateful, ensuring that I can get to where I need to go without much fuss.
Using social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter to support your customers, respond to queries and provide transparency is real world usability, straight out of book.
Anyone familiar with Jakob Neilsen’s usability heuristics will recognise the following:
1. Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
2. Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
3. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
4. Help and documentation
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
The interesting thing is that the system, in this case is complex, made up of the delivery platform, in office business representatives, bus drivers and customers.
The platform is being used as an agent to ensure that the real word system notifies and supports its users in completing their tasks.
For a usability geek, the snow has been a lot of fun