The beta launch of the highly anticipated mobile ticketing app, GoPass℠, from DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), together with The T (Fort Worth) and DCTA (Denton County Transportation Authority), is proving just how useful social media can be.
Testing is always an exciting phase, no matter how big the test group or how innovative the product, but this test was different. It marked a first for the transit companies involved, as well as a first for us. The advertising agency in Texas, Slingshot, responsible for all marketing activities, decided to use a private Facebook group only open to those who were involved in the beta launch. The social media network was chosen by Slingshot for its openness, ease of use, and it being the most efficient means of retrieving qualitative data. The overall aim was to be able to gather direct, qualitative feedback from people in the field – absolutely priceless information that can sometimes come far too late.
A beta test is a must, especially when it involves a digital product aimed at such a large group of people who will push the app to its very limits.
Nevin Grinnell, VP and Chief Marketing Officer at DART, says, “The overall objective of the test was to identify any problems in a functional, logistical and intuitive standpoint. For example; perceived time to download, ease of registering, ease of buying a ticket, ease of determining what ticket you need, ease of navigation, problems with particular handsets, and so on. We all had to be absolutely sure that it would exceed consumer expectations, and were eager to know – would they replace their existing ticketing purchase routine with the app?”
“Yes I will [continue using the app after the BETA test period]. I love being able to get my tickets the night before my trip so that I can save time each morning. I also love that I don’t have to worry so much about losing my ticket. I always have my phone so I always have my ticket.” Ian Garland, Fort Worth.
“I don’t see myself going back to the traditional way of using DART ticket purchasing. The greatest benefit I see is the convenience. It saves time to have everything you need readily accessible.” Dwayne Banks, Dallas.
“It will be the only way I but tickets and passes!!! It will be better than carry money and easier than buying a ticket on the machine!! It will save me time if I am in a hurry and I do not have to worry about losing the ticket.” Claudia North, Irving.
At the end of the beta test (which runs from June 16th to July 17th), the respondents will be asked to fill out a survey so the results can be quantified, based on a total of three weeks of open dialogue.
The Facebook group proved to be a huge success. Every company involved was able to make use of the real feedback from users. As Facebook is very familiar, users were quick and keen to post comments and review the app. It demonstrated how, where and what people were doing, highlighted pain points and any other problems they experienced and also shone light on how users were interacting with the app, allowing us to see if any usability updates should be made – and this was all before the public launch.
“Every week, open-ended questions were asked, and each week, the questions would go deeper into the app. For example, the first week we only asked about registration to the app and purchasing a ticket, the next week we asked about travel plans and other ticket purchase features. We did so purposely, so we wouldn’t lead the riders through the app instead of letting them be curious and ask questions relevant to what they might be doing. We’re extremely pleased with the results we received”, says Nevin Grinnell.
As are we at Unwire! We’ve had extremely useful feedback direct from users, proving how useful and important it is to include the end-users in the process. This is something we hope we’ll see a lot more of!
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