Friday, October 26, 2007


This week I was trying to book a function room for 150 people for a charity event. You'd think it would be easy! Not in the land of the world's tallest midget!

When I got through to a local hall to ask if they could do it the woman who answered the phone made five attempts to transfer the phone to the person who could help me - and clearly wasn't able to transfer the call.

I then phoned the local football club - who have an ideal room. Again the person who answered couldn't help me - and she wasn't sure where the man who could help was. He did eventually call me back but the price wasn't in line with what a charity event was all about!!

I then phoned the local golf club - nobody answered the phone - and there was no facility to leave a message.

I went onto Yell to find a listing for the biggest hotel in the area. The number listed was only a bedroom reservation number. The recorded announcement told me to get the local hotel number if I wanted anything else. This was not available either on, in Yellow Pages or on their website!!

I then phoned my mate who is a manager at a local hotel. He found a room and gave it me for free - knowing full well they'll make a pile on food and drink - and we'll make a pile for our charity.

Who of service experience when you still can't get through to most people still! And who said relationships don't work in customer service.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Are You Linkedin to Poor Service?

Poor service is not restricted to classic businesses. Bill Tully's tale posted on his siteLinked in account Suspensionshows how the social-networking site Linkedin are getting it wrong. You will see the irony if you follow the link to their page 'Relationships Matter'

Like alot of technologically inspired businesses, linkedin has overlooked the fact that the very medium it seeks to utilise to grow its business can also come back and bite it in the rear. Clearly absorbed with 'technical genius of its business model it has totally overlooked the customer perspective in its approach.

Clearly there is a lack of deep marketing talent, otherwise the notion of 'customer journey' would have guided their service design

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cue - Bad Service

image credit bized

So, which bit of 'grow the business' - 'attract more passengers' came as a suprise to the senior management of Heathrow and Gatwick airports?

Watchdog slams airports over queues reports the British Civil Aviation Authority has been severely criticised for the level of service provided at Heathrow and Gatwick by the UK's Competition Commision

The ususal tendency is to retrospectively analyse the details of service provision and project management for weakness, and then apply a good dose of 20:20 hindsight to tactical fixes.

The key problem is lack of senior management capability and leadership.

Friday, September 28, 2007

You can't bank on good service

I knew I should have expected the worst, when I was queueing for... 'cashier number 5 please' when I overheard another customer asking why a side door was locked that meant he had to walk into a busy road to get around road works that had closed the pavement between the bank's car park and the main entrance...this simple solution (open the side door) versus placing the banks customers in mortal danger was beyond the capability staff on the ground to sanction...and they certainly lacked the 'bottle' or initiative to deal with the problem imaginatively. It might also have been an unscrupulous 'life insurance sales technique'of course!

Any way, I duly arrived at the cashier to deposit some cash. I then had a query about my business account and asked the cashier if she happened to have the number of the office. "Oh no sir, that's business banking, I don't have that, you need to go over to the 'service' (sic) desk"

So I joined another queue at the under 'personed' service without a smile desk, and waited 15 minutes whilst the service provider provided detailed account problem sorting for the customer in front of me. Great service for them, crap service for me and the 8 people behind me.

Then...hooray my turn...or so I thought...the service person finished with Mrs Detail, stood up and walked past me saying "Sorry to keep you, I just have to sort out a customer in the meeting room" - To cap it all another (obvious newbie) ignoring me, came up to the woman behind me and asked " So, are you together?" (meaning me) and proceeded to deal with the woman's query!

At this point I was in total bemusement, and, in a semi-catatonic trance, walked out the bank and nearly got flattened by a bus because I couldn't walk on the pavement!

Arriva Trains - 21st century Highwaymen?

Arriva trains have recently won the UK rail franchise previously managed by Central Trains.

In a staggering piece of customer care avoidance which makes most other forms of train service ineptitude pale into insignificance, it has been announced that Arriva trains are going to Penalise, yes, Penalise bona fide passengers not just fare dodgers

The specific example concerns the Liverpool - Norwich line. This policy is applying to other major routes in the UK too.

If you buy a ticket on the Liverpool Norwich route south to Nottingham and then decide during that journey (let's say you recieve a mobile phone message changing your plans) that you would like/ need to progress one station further using a connecting train you will be penalised with a £20 additional ticket price if you didn't buy the ticket for the 'full' journey when you started out.

The reason? "because you should have purchased the connecting ticket at Sheffield sir as this takes you through one of our (arbritary) travel zones."

How utterly ludicrous! which senior manager of this appalling poor organisation allowed this policy (and the idiot who created it) to walk out of his office without sanction?

So, as a customer you have three options:

a)develop 20:20 foresight, deny yourself the choice of responding to changes of plan and inconvenience yourself for the convenience of the train company

b)instead of walking 10 yards to the connecting train walk 500 yards into the station to buy a new ticket and 510 yards back to the waiting (mostly empty!!) connecting train

c) pay £20 for a normally £2.90 journey

Arriva are clearly badly managed, devoid of any customer orientation, lacking in intellectual agility and are an utter disgrace.

They are also totally out of touch with modern social-media opportunities and I would urge any reader to promote this example of Corporate ineptitude at every opportunity


What's it all about - well its nothing to do with midgets - or not directly!

In a world where people have made lots of money talking about creating customer experiences what sort of service do we get from companies on a daily basis? Okay - so those of you fortunate enough to have visited Disney can claim to have had a memorable experience. Is this what life is like most of the time on most days?

The phrase 'World's tallest midget' was coined by a friend of mine of reckons that in most markets companies don't have to be great they just have to be better than the rest. Given the the rest are often very bad all you ever need to be is The World's tallest midget - the tallest guy in your market.

We begin with the view that most companies dole out poor service to customers most of the time. What we are looking for are examples of service 'experiences' you have had - good or bad. We begin with a view that the bad will seriously outweigh the good - but let's see.

So - if you've had poor service please feel free to vent your spleen to me Mark Serve on the World's tallest midget. If you've had a great service experience feel free to gush!

Mark Serve