This website is being designed and rebuilt in public view, read about the progress.

The balance of your business operational models, brand and customer experience

Short story: I got fined by Uber JUMP because I parked a bicycle outside their operational zone. A few days later I got refunded and emailed the above automatically. This business rule was quite well managed, it created a feeling of trust in JUMP that I haven’t always felt with Uber Taxis & Uber Eats.

It got me wondering, what triggers, nudges and logic for your business can be optimised for a reliable operational model and great customer experience whilst strengthening your brand?

Are you looking at the big picture of customer journeys with a Service Designer, Brand Strategist and an Accountant?

📚Valuable Reading:
This is Service Design Doing
This is Service Design Thinking


Long story: Uber are here in London with their bicycle rental service; JUMP, it’s exactly the same as the others, except, the hybrid bikes are better. Although, I’m still a fan of City owned schemes for economic and sustainability reasons.

On my first ride I didn’t look up JUMP’s operational zones. With hindsight it’s an obvious thing to check, especially for rental and sharing services.

I pelted it across London from Hackney to Waterloo station, had 5 mins to spare until meeting someone, locked the bike up, opened the app and then… £10 parking fee (shown above, left). I’ve taken the bike out of its agreed area and this idiot just got fined 229.36% the cost of the journey.

A few days and rides later I got the email above (middle and right), refunding me and explaining a bit more about their service terms. I’m guessing a few pieces of programmed logic are happening here. It’s a designed service journey that is carefully balancing operational costs, lifetime customer value (LCV) and the brand experience.

The blind spot is booking a bike away from an exclusion zone shows you a regular map. Book it near the edges of the zones and you see greyed out regions. You’ll quickly get where you can and can’t finish your ride. I didn’t get that where I started my ride.

Logistics and sharing app experiences are deliberately paired back, they have minimal controls, snippets of information and rarely can you access all your data. Product Designers want simplicity and therefore hopefully more bookings.

Let’s go. Let’s book. 🚙 🚲 🛴 📈

There isn’t even a cancel button for reserving a JUMP bike. So you get £1 fall out your wallet if you change your mind, which you can get back by emailing them.

As an industry, we Designers are removing or masking more in the name of simplicity and usability, but we’re not always in it for the customer, especially when the revenue model is precarious (ride sharing, food delivery, etc). This will be at the cost of the brand. Experience = brand.

Still, I believe JUMP made a fair call on the charge here, definitely not the lack of cancel button. It appears to be the careful balance of business sense and customer experience.

One of the big tasks we’re undertaking at NET-A-PORTER & MR PORTER is to fully map out all service journeys. We want to understand them not only from an interface perspective but from a deeper business analysis — we need that careful balance to our customer service, returns policy, logistics promises, stock control… and so on. I know the challenge will always be make sure every function here feels remunerated whilst the customer feels great too.

To wrap up, a few examples I’ve seen or been thinking about

  • Strava ask if you want to join a local running club a few days after a run logged — it leads customers to see the value in a paid account.
  • BOLD hotels surprise you with free drinks at check-in if you say yes to your room not having sheets cleaned every night
  • 💡DriveNow should add an AR feature to check car damage before you drive (I’ve been stung a few times by forgetting to check, they could make it fun and easy and logged)

What’s your dining experience?

It is very difficult to be fully aware of the day to day experience your company provides its clients, suppliers and employees.

Abstract your business. Think of the last meal that you ate out with friends. Think of the full dining experience from pavement to pin number.

What table were you sat at? Did the menu ‘concept’ need explaining? Was the specials board in another room? What price was the house wine and did they take your order before you looked at the mains?

Eating at restaurants exposes an extensive list of interesting service, product and experience elements. The value here is asking ourselves where these map to in our own business and acknowledging our room for improvement.


Do you have a reservation?
Translation: We greet you with barriers and protocol first

Do you know how the menu works?
Translation: We’re complicated, it’s about us

Normally we suggest that you order x and then y with z
Translation: We up-sell before sale

We have one last table left, sorry its not our best
Translation: We’re fine with poor experience for one more sale

Let me recite the eight special dishes for you to memorise
Translation: We’re good at knowing what we do, hope you can keep up

We clear the empties as quick as we can
Translation: We’re busy, you better hurry up

Our cutlery is our cutlery
Translation: We don’t eat our own food with our own knives

Our house wine starts at £25, next bottle up is £32
Translation: We love sales not products


Dining out is a very contained experience, it only lasts a few short hours and we’re very critical when parting with our own cold hard cash.

What’s your ‘worst table’ and who’s getting the blunt knives? Service experience and communication are fundamental to the satisfaction of the products we sell.


The list could have gone on.

Although I fear it was in danger of going full Larry David.