My train journey full of angst, highlights the power of Apple’s latest tech move

Yesterday I watched someone being challenged by a guard about her train ticket. It was on her phone. Her phone was dead. She was visibly stressed and anxious because the plug socket at her table wasn’t charging her phone quick enough to prove she was telling the truth. I’ve been there. We probably all have – at an airport, on a train, before a big meeting.

Ironically, she had a phone that was capable of fast charge yet the USB socket she was using wasn’t. We all sat waiting for the phone to spring to life.

She was telling the truth.

USB-C and Fast Charge

The USB socket on board was a USB-A type, not obsolete technology but it soon will be as the faster charging USB-C sockets become more in demand. Samsung, Apple, Google and others have all started to put the fast charging option into their phones in the last few years, yet not really made a big deal of it. But now that Apple has actually started to supply the iPhone with the right cable, and shout about it in marketing, it’s likely to catch on at pace and become the norm.

Watching my fellow passenger sweating over her ticket wasn’t comfortable for anyone and should be a wake-up call for the train operators.

Installing USB points for passengers is a great idea. I love it (no surprise there). But it’s not future proofed and not is it necessarily safe (non-manufacturer charging cable pose a fire risk). The standards are changing and so will customer expectations.

If the objective for your brand is to provide a free service so customers feel great about travelling with you then it’s time for a rethink. Very soon that’s not what they will think of you. They will expect fast charging as standard, and the silent complaints that are bubbling on the surface today will become much bigger and more audible tomorrow.

It’s of course, not just trains that have this problem. I’ve seen newly refurbished hotel lobbies offering almost out of date tech thinking they are ‘a la mode’ and doing the right thing. Airports, even schools, are in the same boat.

Future-proof charging service

So if you are thinking of upgrading or investing in charging points for the first time, consider safety, security where the technology is headed and, not where it is now. You’ll save money in the long run.

Plus you’ll reap all the proven benefits. People will make you a destination. They are likely to spend more time and money in your premises. They will recommend you for that very facility and they will associate your brand with a feeling of being in control and connected.

It’s not hard to do and if you don’t want to house the technology in furniture that may get retired when you do your next refurb then think bigger and work with a partner who will stay on top of the technology developments and do the leg work for you. We’ve been providing the option to have fast charge capability in our units since 2017.

Brand differentiation

Train stations, shopping centres, airports offering charging points to their customers have been slow on the uptake, but now there’s a real opportunity to differentiate their brand for the better. Customers will expect it and come this time next year if you don’t have it you’ll be behind the curve.

So now the technology has finally landed, the next question is will yours be the brand to lead the way and offer it?