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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Customer Service

We've just been 'through the mill' on customer service from a couple of unlikely sources - John Lewis and Sainsbury's - both organisations I have previously championed as being good at this.

Sainsbury's was simple enough - something I bought from their local store and which stopped working a week later - declined to consider replacing it on the grounds I did not have the receipt. (I had disposed of it a few days earlier). The item concerned is not exclusively sold by Sainsburys but a quick check of their records will show my family spends several hundred pounds a month there and (unless we are running a hotel) probably do 95% of our food shopping there anyway. A different response might have made me feel a better!

But John Lewis takes the trophy this week. We ordered something (over £100) by phone and by credit card and due for delivery by Friday. When it didn't arrive we called and were told the order "had been cancelled due to suspicious circumstances". When we enquired what these were they said it was because we had quoted a mobile phone number, but no landline or email address. Actually no one had asked - we just answered the questions given. When we asked why they had cancelled the order without asking further, they had no answer at all! Nothing wrong with the credit card and nothing different with the delivery address (also the billing address) from several thousands of pounds of goods over the years.

Oh well, two of my customer service champions spoiling their performance and here I am telling the world.

One of the London bus eGroups has been debating the value of 'via points' on destination blinds. The usual arguments have been run (they become progressively misleading as the route progresses vs they demonstrate relative geography which is reassuring to passengers). It is fair to say that the information provided at stops, and electronically is now far better than at any time in our history and it is increasingly easier to get to the right stop on the right side of the road in London. The trade off is much larger route numbers and destinations on buses themselves.

I am going to commend the latest TfL on-line mapping service which will show you every route on a Google Map with every stop. Give it a try at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/. It is really good.

Better personal electronic information is the right way to go - and we must do better than the photograph above which joins my two favoured retailers in this week's bargain basement!

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