What would happen if an airline decided that it would no longer accept print-at-home boarding passes, and that everyone would have to go with the fully digital option?
Would some customers miss flights? Maybe.
Would there suddenly be very long lines of very frustrated customers at that airline's customer service desk at the airport? Probably.
Would some of the affected customers defect to another airline for future flights? Most likely.
Imposing a fully-digital process on a customer base that's not fully ready for it can cause pain and problems for the business and its customers. But that's what the New York Yankees did at the start of the 2016 baseball season.
According to a June 12 New York Times article by Billy Witz, "When the Yankees announced that they were overhauling their ticketing system this season — introducing mobile ticketing and no longer accepting print-at-home tickets — they said it was to enhance the fan experience.
"But that has hardly been the case for the fans camped out at the Yankee Stadium customer service window before each game, having been unable to get into the ballpark because of a problem with the tickets on their phones or turned away at the gate with tickets they printed at home or at work."
Here's the point:
Know your customer. Had the Yankees done some research on their fan base to understand the percentage of fans that were willing and able to go to an all-digital ticketing system, they would have realized that all fans were not ready.
Implement a transition plan.
Create a method to accommodate fans with varying digital appetites: For example, the Yankees could have taken a page from the play book of the many toll highways in and around New York: While transitioning to all-digital, some lanes still accepted cash. Many of the those highways have since become "Cashless," but only after customers had adequate time to transition.
Going digital drives down business operating costs, so the ROI can be attractive. But before jumping in 100%, it's critical to understand how the change will impact the customer experience, because frustrated customers can destroy that ROI pretty quickly.
When going digital, take time to understand your customers' appetite and ability to make the change with you, and execute accordingly.