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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Customer Service again!

On 14th February on this very blog I told a story of a disappointing example of Customer Service at my local Sainsbury's.

Well, one of my periodic readers here is a Sainsbury's director and no sooner had he seen the story than a gift voucher arrived more than compensating for the offending article - which was for my eldest son who is 10.

Now here is the lesson in good customer service. Of course we went to the store to redeem it but those of you with more than one child will know that such things have to be balanced. Eldest son got his replacement item but needless to say youngest son had to have something as well so we left the store having also bought something with new money! See - Mr Sainsbury did right by us and he got an extra sale as a result. We're happy and he's happy too!

I am happy to say "Thank You" publicly for such good customer service.

Space for a bit of a catch up from comments made from previous blogs.

One correspondent asked why First Capital Connect got itself into such difficulties and for so long before things were put right. I think I should say that we have seen in more than one TOC where it has been custom and practice to staff significant portions of the requirement from overtime. Staff can't be forced to work overtime and if they decide to collectively stop doing it then there will be cuts. It would be wiser to ensure all the work was covered from the roster but the trades union have generally been against this as it reduces the average earnings of their members. As you will see the employer can be between a rock and a hard place here.

In general things get worse quickly and only get better slowly and although the pay issue was resolved the legacy of the disruption lived long in the minds of passengers and the press. Although performance is now very good any odd problem is magnified by the memory of the troubles.

Another correspondent raised with us the issue of more on-train and on-bus information like iBus in London. Again here we are trying to keep a balance. On trains some customers are already concerned about the quantity of announcements - safety, tickets, route, and the menu of the buffet car. We are trying to get somewhere between good information and a bit of peace quiet. On buses outside London the whole iBus announcement service is triggered from the AVL system. Our friends who represent the needs of blind people are pressing us to have more audible announcements on bus but we need good AVL to be able to deliver it automatically.

The point was, of course, that initiatives for new integrated transport offerings, like our Bristol Superbus, must be explained and 'sold' to passengers or may fail, which is right.

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