Archive for November, 2010

When is customer service not necessary?

November 10, 2010

 I’ve been increasingly frustrated by 2 particular companies over the the last month. No matter how I approach them they have no desire to deliver any level of decent customer service. In fact their customer interactions are in direct conflict with anything I’ve ever learnt about how to retain or gain customers.
I was in Heathrow airport on Sunday, being re-directed as if I was completely incompetent by rude staff that just couldnt care less to a desk that couldn’t be arsed to check us in or even whether we got on the right plane when the penny dropped. It actually didn’t matter whether I got decent customer service or not – I’d still use that airline & so would the majority of others experiencing the same horrendous level of service. Therefore there is absolutely no point in them bothering to encourage decent service or rewarding even smiling at the customers. Travelling is incredibly stressful and not something that the majority do on a regular basis – so to enter an arena where those that could help are not motivated to do so adds to the pressure. Consequently all the insignificant things start to matter – the que at security; someone trying to get infront; being first to board the plan; gaining enough space in the overhead locker; too many people in too small a place….. it becomes self perpetuating. Next time you travel you are now already anticipating it will be stressful, funnily enough it is.
Customer service should be an integral part of how we want to treat other people, regardless of the industry that we are working in. There will always be people who are doing jobs that are unpleasant or have rules that have to be followed – common courtesy costs nothing. But the disappointing fact is that if we are not encouraged to be pleasant to peopl we will just not bother. Does it really take more energy to smile and be pleasant than to be miserable and rude? I don’t know, because I am determined to go out of my way to smile, whatever the situation and however I am treated. For example
Airline employee  (hand on my luggage trolley & staring in a fairly manacing manner) – “Don’t use that que, the sign indicates your airline, but I didn’t put out the sign, my job is to tell you to move across the airport, que up twice again and then jump up and down on one leg.”
Me (big smile and lots of eye contact) ” My apologies for being completely incompetent and able to read. Thank you so much for your helpful and informative manner.”

Well made me smile anyway!

The other company that are the butt of my frustrations have just lost a large volume of business from our company, our UK firm and 2 of our major clients. I wonder how that was instigated? Spookily enough, their level of desire to deliver great customer service reached new heights 30mins after they lost the business this afternoon. I don’t value doing business in this way, but I will always make sure my teams’ are treated in the right respectful way – you only cross me once!


The Cultural Difference!

November 5, 2010


I’ve been back in the UK for a few days this week, working from the UK office down in Somerset. It has made a nice change, although I have missed my Swedish team quite alot. There are big cultural differences between the 2 countries, despite all Swedes speaking English. But, when you’re living there, you don’t realise how different things really are. Attitudes in Sweden are so much more can do – every challenge I have thrown at them, or the business has thrown at them has just been dealt with – minimal fuss and no moaning. Every curve ball has been caught and thrown back at hit the target 90% of the time. In the UK we seem much more reticent to get on with it. Everything has to be discussed, thought through, had a meeting over and then re-discussed before action taken. There are pros and cons to both ways of approaching things, although my default behaviour is to always get on with it. To be fair that behaviour has gotten me into trouble lots and lots of times, however it has also given me some fantastic experiences that I may not have done, had I not got on with it. As I have said before the Swedes always stop for lunch, adding a full hour off to your day. However it has yet to feel that we do less work because of it. Although I am realising that maybe this can do attitude enables us to have a proper lunch break and just not spend so much time thinking things through?!

One of the other major differences is that the Swedes take things much more literally. For example, when I rang my landlady to say the electric had gone in the apartment, her response was “But I am now at work” the inference being that she was at work and was not going to be able to deal with it  until she returned home that evening. Obviously we had a conversation about how that wasn’t an acceptable timescale, but my point remains. This also tends to resolve issues more quickly and people are quite accepting of the literal state of affairs. It minimises debate on things and certainly stops all the gossiping around the water cooler. Personally I find it quite refreshing, whether it will lead to problems remains to be seen. I’ll let you know.