Archive for August, 2012

Who defines customer service – the customer!

Posted on August 12, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last week I flew to Sydney for a day trip.

(Just thinking as I type that how quickly times have changed as going from Bendigo to Melbourne used to be a full day trip, if not more, not that long ago – and here I am driving to the airport flying up and back and then driving home all within a space of about 14 hours.)

Anyway,  at the airport in Sydney there is a kiosk near the baggage carousels where you can buy train tickets to get into the city.

It is just under $15 each way for a single ticket (and $25 for a return on the same day) and it’s much faster and cheaper than a taxi.

I asked for a return ticket and the lady asked if it was to return on a different day. When I said I was returning on the same day her reply was….

“it’ll be cheaper downstairs.” Said with a smile and a very friendly tone.


CityRail still got my money on the day but this nice lady who I have never seen before had my best interests at heart.

How good is that?

Can this sort of customer service be taught?

Well not entirely but you can teach your team the Art of Customer Satisfaction for your business and your clients.

I use the term ART because there is both skill and creativity involved.  People who are good at customer service are more than just trained well, they have the ability to assess and respond to what they experience. Skilled people can be good at following a script whereas good customer service can sometimes be about setting the script aside – still doing what is right within the company guidelines – yet doing something different to what others in the same situation may do.

The ART is all about how you Attract customers (often word of mouth), what you do to Retain them (deliver on the promise made) and how you Transition them to other services or handle it when they go elsewhere.

Great customer service leaves a positive lasting impression with your customers and the best service costs nothing. Now some of you may be thinking that the lady at the airport DID cost her employer because she missed an opportunity to sell something to me at a premium price.

But I am sure that I would have found out later that it is cheaper to buy downstairs and then what would the result have been?


As a customer who discovered that I had paid more than nexessary, I would potentially tell people not to buy any tickets from the upstairs booth or I might even suggest that people get the airport shuttle bus. (some of which advertise a trip for around $15 to the city)

Because disgruntled customers tell more people about their experience than happy customers do. And with social media this means that rather than someone telling 10 people they were unhappy, it can be hundreds if not thousands. And being happy I tell more than 3 with my connections online!

Eventually a drop off in ticket sales and trade at the booth would also make it unprofitable to staff that booth and guess what, yes jobs would be lost. And then everyone would moan. Realistically this is what happens in so many cases. Bad customer service comes back to bite.

The trouble is that it is often very subtle and not easy to track so it’s impact is covert. Hence my post – good customer service IS important to everyone. And these are messages that really need to be heard by managers and staff.

If you manage a team, think about the art and the skill of customer service.

If you deliver customer service – which I think we all do – consider how well you serve at the moment and what you might be able to do better.

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Customer Service Needs Great Teamwork

Posted on August 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This week I’d like to share a story about teamwork (or the lack of it) and its impact on customer service.

Earlier this week I went to see a play – I subscribe to the full season of a theatre company and usually see one play a month.  About 10 minutes before the scheduled start time – the time an announcement that the doors are open and we can take our seats – an announcement was made, but it was different to the usual format.  All patrons were advised that the play was cancelled for that evening and that all patrons should make their way to the Booking Office.

Given that I had driven about 150 kilometres to attend I was disappointed, as was every other patron and I’m sure the actors and staff were too. As instructed, many of us filed towards the booking office area.  So far so good right?

Well here we start to go off the rails a little.

There was no-one to marshall or organise the hundreds of people now converging on the box office area – and there’s not a lot of room to stand. It’s right near the entry way which meant that people were trying to come in (to see the play) and they could not get in the door for the crowd – but as they didn’t know about the cancellation somestarted pushing their way through the queue.  Other people seemed unaware of where the line was and just pushed their way in somewhere trying to get to the box office.

A young female staff member started moving her way along the line handing out envelopes. No explanation of what or why, just handing everyone an envelope.

A few minutes later a young male staff member begins handing out the same envelope to the crowd. This time I had the chance to ask a question “What is this for?” He explained it was for re-booking. “I’ve driven in from 150kms away and would like to rebook now before I leave if that’s possible.”


“Do you have your ticket with you ma’am?”


Huh? I’m at the theatre ready to see the play and you need to present your ticket to get in the door. (that was the inside my head comment) My response was “Yes I do, is it possible to rebook the ticket here?” Yes, just stay in line and see one of the staff at the box office.

By now I’m getting a little peeved at hearing an instruction and seeing different behaviour – why were we all directed to the booking office if they are just handing out envelopes to rebook into other performances? And at this stage nothing had been said about why the performance was cancelled. I presumed ill health as it is winter and there are a lot of colds going around.

At last I make it to the head of the line and speak to a booking office staff member who says……

“Just fill in the envelope and we’ll be in touch in 2-3 days to rebook you”

Once again I explained the tyranny of distance and asked if I could rebook now so it was in my diary and sorted before I turned around to drive home.

The lady left the counter – presumably to check with her supervisor – came back and said “No we are not processing any rebookings tonight”


So I left my ticket in the envelope with a note for someone to call me and get it rebooked.

Hopefully you now see my point about teamwork and customer service – if the original announcement had instructed us to get an envelope from a staff member to have rebooking arranged at a later date then it would have been far less chaotic.

My happy ending is that I received a call from a lovely and helpful lady who listened in shock to my tale of woe (she seemed condused that I was refused the option to rebook on the night) and rebooked me into another performance on a date that suited me.


The moral of the story? Well there are several:

– team members who communicate or interact with customers MUST be delivering the same message

– in a crisis, people do get nervous and can say unfortunate things – make sure an experienced head is with someone new where possible

– don’t rely on good recovery and back up to get you out of trouble – it does fix the mess but it’s far better to have avoided it in the first place.

Oh, and I discovered that it was a technical problem with the staging that caused the cancellation.

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