Home > The Monday Musings Column > how hard is it to deliver decent customer service?

how hard is it to deliver decent customer service?

Back to customer service this week and a trio of unrelated incidents that have got me thinking about this again.

On Thursday I had to go to London. I had a breakfast speaking engagement in the morning out Reading way and so decided to leave my car there for the trip in and out of the capital. I got to the station about 10 minutes before my booked train was due and all looked fine as I checked the indicator boards for my train and platform. With the train shown as on time I thought that I would get a coffee when I got to London and headed for the platform, but I had barely found my spot when the announcement came that my train was 17 minutes late. Four minutes earlier it had been on time, so had it suddenly reversed and hurled itself back the way it had come?

Of course not, but for some reason that train had been delayed and that information was not being communicated down the line as the situation developed. It gradually got later and the last announcement that I heard was that it was 23 minutes late before I caught an alternative service, also running late, and arrived into Paddington 20 minutes behind time. The train operators keep calling us customers (I would rather be a passenger), but this sort of thing is not good customer service; there is information available that can be communicated, but it commonly isn’t.

On my way home that evening I stopped off at a local supermarket for some provisions. The checkout person knows me well as a regular and I only had two items, but I was still asked if I needed help with my packing. I know that they are told that they have to do this and that they are monitored, but it is not good customer service to ask stupid questions; doing so makes a mockery of good customer service and deprives the employee of an opportunity to actually deliver it.

And then to make a good couple of days perfect I was asked to help a client who had returned some goods, but had not received a credit for them. They were at their wits end and I picked up the problem for them. They had received a consignment that was not to specification and had asked the supplier to have it collected. The supplier had contacted their carrier and arranged said collection, but the carrier who collected the goods had not left a receipt of any form (I know them well and they generally don’t).

I contacted the supplier and provided them with all of the appropriate documentation, but their response was that they had no record of the consignment being received and, without a collection receipt, my client could whistle (they didn’t actually use that term, but the gist is accurate). I contacted them again and pointed out that they had arranged the collection and therefore they must have some record of having done so, and that they had a contractual relationship with the carrier and so any failure on the part of their supplier was their problem to deal with. I gave them a deadline to respond and informed them that my client would reserve their rights to take appropriate action if the refund was not made. Within 5 minutes they emailed my client and told them that a full credit had been authorised.

Delivering great customer service is not hard let alone good customer service, so why do people make such a meal of it? It beats me

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