A Little Bit Of Nothing

The sun is shining and I am sitting in Rick’smacaroons in Oxford having had a v agreeable lunch in the sun.  One double espresso down the hatch and a good dose of Vitamin D and the car seems to make more sense. Sure it’s a pose-mobile. However, it is beautiful to look at and sounds just awesome on the throttle. However, everytime I give it a bootful I  might as well tear up twenty-pound notes as fast as I can, what with the price of fuel and tires *sobs gently while rocking back and forth*.

A degree means giving it up though that isn’t really a major problem as I still have a bit of that so-what feeling. A car is temporary etc etc. On that note though…

Jobs:  I started drafting a list of the type of companies – not a given field of endeavour – that I’d work for and then along comes Rackspace with a role as a coach. I had the first interview in London this morning. Well close enough, Hayes in Middlesex. They seem like a cool bunch and I love the idea of helping others, plus  their view on customer support is just that of mine when I ran Only Organic. However, it is first interview and I may get knocked back at this stage, despite the dedicated prayers of the Queen’s Chaplain – thanks, I think.

In the meantime I am just going to drink in the car, as deep down I think it has to go.

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My Manager Says…

I had an extremely circular conversation with Becky from the Co-Operative car insurance team today. I was very (very) good as I didn’t allow any hint of frustration or incredulity slip into my voice. Nonetheless, having had a 20 min chat with the Co-Op Home Insurance – my home insurance provider – Customer Services team who ended up assuring me in unequivocal terms that the included legal protection policy extended to motor cars and all things related Becky insists that the home insurance part – “nuffink to do wiv us” – are wrong.

“I asked and my manager says no…”.

Can you see how good I was not to get frustrated or be incredulous? The Co-Op is The Co-Op is The Co-Op, end of discussion. The letterheads are similar, the font identical, colours the same etc etc. I already buy insurance from them and they provide the electricity. It’s The Co-Op and that’s as far as I care.

Not for The Co-Op apparently. We are one but we are totally different is how they operate. I suggested to young Becky that she might like to direct her manager towards page 24 of the home insurance policy document which, sadly, I have read. It is very specific in the exclusions and cars ain’t in it. Anywhere. Nein. Nada. Nach. You get the idea. Deaf ears because….wait for it….”my manager says no”.

Gotta love joined up thinking in companies. It is doubly frustrating because I want the Co-Op to be good. I am emotionally invested in their brand, which is something they just don’t seem to get.

After all that the quote was twice that of elsewhere. 25 min on the dog’n’bone, but I did hang out all the washing and do the dishes so not really a loss of time.

Blovember #21 – Focus, Creativity & Ice Cream

Enough of the foul-mouthed frippery of yesterday. Today I assure the easily offended that this blog shan’t provide. If you want grot then go away now.

I am planning a business and, much like writers block I imagine, I have spent several days just staring at my screen and then having Ice Cream moments instead of really good thought. Makes me think I’m idle, which I’m not.

However, this morning pre-0900h, I sit down and by Jove it just starts flowing outta me. So much so that I suddenly realised what I’d blog about to satisfy the insatiable gods of NaBloPoMo.

Ice Cream – oops, just cleaned a bathroom. Very shiny and clean smelling it is to. I really am a modern man (reaches hand over shoulder to give well-earned pat on back). Metrosexual as well. I so need a good hand moisturiser now. The chemicals are harsh and I am a delicate flower.

Ice Cream – in the meantime I have been reflecting on the name and purpose of dominicshadbolt.com In light of the forthcoming business venture and no longer needing this blog to paint me in a better corporate light (who am I kidding, I’m me) and blur my Internet footprint the What About the Customer name can go.

Ice Cream – as NaBloPoMo – a female web user initiative I find out today, hey for me it’s Blovember so I escape with masculinity intact  – is requiring me to post every day thus driving the randomness of the posts, I am going to rename the blog, snag a new and less austere theme and make a clear separation between my nascent business and the occasional ranting and general life based observations.

Ice Cream – the ranting actually produces results. What a pity that good customer service is driven by a shouty minority with the time and the tools to take their gripes to Twitter? Still, kudos to Plusnet for picking up on it and fixing the problem.

So brain function, focus and productive work eh? It’s all morning for me.

You’ll never guess the time? It’s Ice Cream o’clock.

Blovember #19 – Hiding Behind the Data Protection Act

Or more accurately – I have yet another excuse not to help you.

It seems that the really obvious difference between North American and British approaches to the customer is some sort of deep down default position. I generalise but it goes like this:

  • North America – ingrained in the general psyche is the innate feeling of “how can I help you?”
  • Britain – ingrained in the psyche is the innate feeling of “I don’t do service. I am not your underling. This is just a job that I need to do to feed my family so fuck-off as I’m not your servant”

There are exceptions that prove the rule on both sides of The Pond. However, to justify and explain this to themselves the Brits love to dress up the “fuck-off” behind a multiplicity of reasons. The theme of which is, “Love to help, just not poss”.

Who has ever woken in the middle of the night and not been able to sleep and then decided that, as awake, it is the ideal time to call a telephone based service when every other soul is in the Land Of Nod? Who has then got that recorded message saying, “due to unexpectedly high call volumes…” In the middle of the goddamed night? They have that message ALL the time. If the lines are that busy all the time then fix the bloody problem or embrace the massive and continual influx of new business with more bodies on the phone. The other favourite is to cite the inability (read – unwillingness) to do something because, “the Data Protection Act means I can’t”. What utter balls. When you are feeling grumpy (-er than usual) and act dumb and politely enquire which part of the DPA is hampering them, ‘cos “I’d like to write to my MP and appeal for it to be raised as a parliamentary question with a view to amending/repealing it and by the way what is your name and the name of the person that told you this?” They either refer you up the chain to a more experienced but equally knowledgeless person or wing it and go for the “added flannel” approach.

I wouldn’t be so bitter and twisted if they just told me to get knotted and hung up. I prefer honesty.

Blovember #8 – Not Bovvered…

When a fairly young, groovy and ethical brand like Clipper Tea has an email address of  thisiswhatithink@clipper-teas.com you kind of expect a reply to a polite email with a very polite gripe. So far at 1 3/4 days I haven’t even received an acknowledgement. I’d set up my “reach out to my customers” email address with an automated reply setting expectations for a human reply. If you are a small firm – why not give yourself up to 5 working days? Hardly unreasonable is it?

Before I wrote this I checked the email address, time of sending, any bounceback etc. There is nothing to indicate it hasn’t been received. I am trying not to leap to judgement but due to the website being up I am guessing there hasn’t been a catastrophic IT outage. I think the issue is a human one, which is sad. @clipperteas C-, could do better

In the interests of big/small balance I ought to note that Mercedes Benz Oxford also disappointed the other day. Made me wait 15 min to see a “specialist” after saying “someone will be right out” and not “it’ll be 15 min if you don’t mind holding on Sir”. I then end up explaining the difference between camber and toe-in to a real mouth-breather and am left wondering about said individual’s area of specialism. It sure as hell wasn’t wheel alignment on an E-class, that much I know for sure. Not making me want to rush there for a service anytime soon. I was then called by an “expert” who then perpetuated the whole thing by giving duff information. I know because I had the car on an inspection pit today w. a man that services coaches and builds race cars as a hobby. We looked and looked and looked for 20 min. No adjustment bolts for setting the rear wheel camber on an E-Class Estate. No shims either  and according to The Internet there is no way to adjust the rear camber on a W211 except by buying aftermarket kits. @mercedesbenz_ir – D, be straight w. customers.

Addendum: after a v nice lunch with #MusingsFromTheSofa the point was made to me that I was failing to make a point about MB Oxford. I agree that I meandered around and that, at best, the point was inferred. I apologise. The point was to contrast that even the big guys like Mercedes were not necessarily better than the little guys like Clipper Tea. In both instances I expect to be not only satisfied but hopefully delighted. Both obviously lack a Social Media Strategy or I expect to have been contacted in some form by now….

Blovember #6 – Why wait for poor service?

I have just read a rant on Facebook where a customer of BestBuy in Calgary felt very hard done by because the staff in-store were rubbish and despite nothing else to do they ignored them whilst standing around doing nowt. They waited 5-9 minutes apparently. Not only does such a statement imply that the complainant is pretty bad at judging the passing of time it also says to me that they had nothing better to do than wait and work themselves up whilst plotting their punitive retaliation (embarrass them using social media). there is nothing to suggest they even attempted to escalate the issue at a store level.

Whilst this is just rubbish service I don’t think you have earned the right to complain if you did nothing. There will be a manager on duty and I’ll bet that summoning them – the mere act of – will be a bit of a rocket to the lazy assistants. As a manager I’d dearly like to know if my customers are not receiving a level of service that delights them. As a manager I can’t improve it for you or other customers if you wait, bottle up your unhappiness and then snipe at us using Facebook (despite the dire threats to splash the entire world of social media with this example of egregious treatment they posted it on the US BestBuy page and not the Canadian one. BestBuy politely pointed this out. I only saw it because a contact reposted it.).
Staff make mistakes, staff are sometimes lazy, offensive, bring personal issues to work etc etc. All to be avoided but the fact is they do happen. There is a difference between a one-off and repetitive crap behaviour. Maybe the manager needs replacing? Who knows if you don’t bring it up.

By all means expect and demand high levels of service but don’t shy away from bringing it up with first-line  management if you don’t get it. Being a customer in the real world isn’t a completely one-way track. Do your bit before you take to the airwaves to shout about your unhappiness. Try being part of the solution and not just part of the problem. No change will come if you shirk your responsibilities as a customer.

What she misses…

Prompted by me remarking that GP surgeries never seemed to operate hours to cater for working folk and not just people with nothing better to do with their time, a British friend that lived in the US for 7 years and is relatively recently back remarked to me, “I miss dealing with companies/service providers that see it as their goal to serve me and accommodate my needs and that don’t expect me to modify my life around their inflexibility”…or similar.

In the UK it is my experience that something as simple as seeing your GP at a time to suit a working person (like they are, grrrr….) is fraught with difficulty. Evenings or Saturday’s? Novel huh?

We pay for this – not as directly as money changing hands between us but through pretty high taxes. Who’s zoomin who?