Customer service—the sublime and the ridiculous
For some time, a relative had live-in 24/7 care to help them cope with worsening dementia. As their care needs became more challenging, it was clear that they would have to move to a care home. It fell to me to look for one.
Luckily, my relative could afford one of the more expensive homes, but this story isn’t about costs, it’s about attitude.
I drew up a short list of six care homes and visited each. There was an interesting range of facilities and approach amongst the six and I had no hesitation in using my professional skills to assist in finding the best.
Each time, I was given a comprehensive tour by a senior manager or the owner. As we retired to the lounge or an office at the end of the tour, I asked each person “what is your purpose in running this care home?”
One answer stood out from all the others. Without hesitation, Paul Hart, the manager of a Barchester home replied, “to make sure everyone has fun”.
He got the job.
Three and more years on, Paul and his staff have consistently delivered on this approach.
A few weeks ago, on a Sunday evening, a tyre blew out as I was driving on a local motorway. In due course, the car was dragged back to my home by the RAC (having discovered that the “spare” supplied by Ford was so far from being fit for purpose you couldn’t help laughing—but that’s another story).
The next morning I called the local branch of Bristol Street Motors in Stroud and asked if they could send someone out to replace the tyre. I was told that that was not a service BSM provided and could I arrange for the car to be transported (with its blown tyre and suspect wheel) to their garage. I explained this was going to be difficult for me to do in the time available and the ever helpful Steve simply said, “OK, leave it with me”.
Three or so hours later, one of Steve’s colleague’s turned up at my front door with a tyre (the right tyre); he removed the old one, checked the wheel and fitted the new one.
This is entirely typical of the service I receive form this branch of BSM (can’t comment on the others). In a nutshell, they understand, if only intuitively, that their job is not to service my car. Their job is to service my business because, without my car, I cannot trade (because I see clients on their sites, not mine). Of course, they have to service my car in order to service my business (and do it well) but it is not the purpose of their relationship with me/my business.
Compare these good, true stories with what happened when I bought a new mobile phone. I needed to replace my failing Blackberry and I bought an android Samsung from Carphone Warehouse in Bristol.
All I needed to do (apart from mastering a very different handset) was have some help moving my old telephone number to the new phone. I was staying on the same network (Vodafone)—if only because reception is poor round here; the only complication was that I was moving form a business account to a personal account.
Moving my number to the new handset took three weeks (and the phone didn’t work properly then, either).
I am certain that the number was moved at all was due to my incessant micromanaging of three organisations—OneCom (the old supplier), Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone. Left to their own devices nothing would have happened in a negative storm of indifference bordering on contempt, failure to take responsibility and incompetence. The phrase “sloping shoulders” doesn’t begin or cover it.
At one point, I was almost in despair as each of the three organisations was giving me an account of what needed to be done which was flatly contradicted by bother of the other organisations and which, curiously, absolved them of any responsibility, themselves, to do anything.
The situation was ultimately resolved when, after a bit of research, I discovered the identity of the chief exec of OneCom and emailed him suggesting he ask his colleagues to do something (because both the other parties agreed it was OneCom who were holding things up). The chief exec passed me on to his customer services manager who was the only person in three weeks out of well over a dozen people I spoke to who was (a) proactive, (b) helpful and, apparently, (c) right. At one point he was calling Carphone Warehouse to explain to them how to do their job!
This will be continued soon
> How to park in Bristol [case study]
by Jeremy Marchant . updated: 12 december 2014 . image: Free images