The commonly observed phenomenon of someone hurrying across a train station, lugging their luggage, and boarding the train just as the doors close, is an example of demand engaging supply. The luggage and their out-of-breath physical selves are the artifacts and events, with the need to have (a seat) and the need to be (transported).

In the Netherlands, people use the OV-chipkaart to pay for public transport via buses, trams, and trains. It can be used to rent bikes and small cars. OV is a service that facilitates intermodal journeys with transfers, across several networks, with a chip card that serves both as the ticket and a form of identification. The pre-paid pre-loaded via card terminals at stops, stations, and retail outlets. The card terminals are examples of touchpoints with interfaces. They also happen to be agents because they issue travel credits after accepting payment. In most cases the person paying is also boarding the bus, tram, or train. The user is also the customer. They are making use of the service on behalf of themselves.

Thanks to the contactless card readers on posts, hurried traveler was able to check in for travel by quickly waving the chipkaart in front of the posts. The brightly colored posts are strategically placed across the station like the ones down a ski slope. If you miss one in a hurry, there is another just ahead. The card readers are agents with the responsibility and authority to check the card for balance and validate it for travel. They stand there, day and night, never getting tired of taking a break for a soda, sandwich or smoke. It takes them less than a second to process the request and give that distinctly audible beep that signals “OK” to the hurried user who must not slow down because the train is about to leave.

As the train crosses the bridge over the Amsterdam-Rijn canal and passes by the Douwe Egberts factory, the performance is in progress. The passenger and luggage can now catch their breath. The quiet of car and comfort of the seat are part of the affordance. Stilte means silence in Dutch. The conductor greets every passenger and checks their chipkaart, wishing the, a nice day and adding alstublieft. The friendly face and polite manner hide the responsibility and authority of handhaving or control. They’re simply making sure for every payoff there will be a payment because travelers in a hurry can sometimes forget.

In many cases, it is still “OK” even when passengers don’t pay. No, they aren’t forced to watch ads that run on auto-play. Their movements aren’t tracked, their privacy not hacked, nor are their habits analyzed for product display. It happens to be, they’re architects, accountants, and ambtenaar and such, doing their jobs and traveling for work. Users themselves happen to be “agents”. Their chipkaart are zakelijk or “for business” and their employers pay for them automatically when balances are low. In this case, the employers are the payers, while the passengers are the users. The ticket conductor is the agent and the train operator is the enterprise.

Posted by:Majid Iqbal

TL;DR I bring clarity to the concept of a service.