Customer service: Gongs & Dustbin lid awards winners

I like to occasionally present virtual gongs to organisations who have excelled in customer service and  dustbin lids to those who have in place either systems or staff likely to destroy the reputation of their organisation in one easy move. This week I'm concentrating on the winners and the surprise  turnaround champions, watch this space for the next blog which will shame the losers.

Let's start with the technology section:

Very excited recently to be ready and willing to part with money for an ipad, I had a really disappointing experience with one of our major retailers, more of them next week so quick hop over to Apple in Regent Street who pick up a gong for good customer service, slick operation, customer focused and staff who seemed delighted to explain the product and all that it could do. I loved the fact that despite there being a little problem that meant we had to re do input over and over again I was never made to feel that I was the problem ( even though frankly it was my fault) and I was soon wending my way home new toy in bag, well done Apple that's how to do it, employ people who know what they are talking about, love what they do and have a quick and efficient system for taking the dosh.

A Gong as well to Jessica on the Bobbi Brown counter at Fenwick's in New Bond Street. She took a huge amount of time talking me through the products and clearly understood each and every one, she also told me what not to buy and how to maximise spend to get the best results. I did leave rather a lot of money behind the counter and felt every penny was well spent, the products also pass the reflection test, ie, in 48 hours do you feel you made a mistake and wish you had not got caught up in the moment or do you feel warm and still delighted with your purchases. It's a good test of whether you will be back and I certainly will.  

The biggest turnaround story of the week goes to Oyster card and TfL. Having sent me an email to say that a top up payment did not go through and therefore I was in danger of having my card stopped. I was on the system first thing Saturday am to pay the top up on line. four failed attempts later  I resorted to their call centre from hell. I spent  hours and a large phone bill in 12 separate calls to try and make one payment. Their specialities in rubbish customer service include the classic  "I can't solve your problem  you need to speak to x,  no I can't transfer you you need to ring in again " my pleas to be saved yet another agony of muzak and having to repeat the same thing over and over again were ignored. The final insult was the last operator I talked to telling me that my problem can't be solved as the right person isn't in today! What's the point of a help line that can't help? I was advised that I can call back the following week and that no they can't stop my Oyster card being terminated despite the fact that I want to pay and it is their system that cannot seem to take the money.

However, this story does have a happy ending, on my 12th phone call I spoke to a really great person who did everything in the book of customer service



Plan action to rectify

Execute effectively

Confirm action and satisfaction with customer

Spot on! Just before I managed to speak to this wonderful member of staff I had in frustration sent off an email to Peter Hendy the big boss at TfL. I was surprised within 24 hours to receive a really sympathetic and clear email from him explaining the technical problem and apologising. He did not leave it there he also arranged for the head of customer services to contact me to see if they could learn from the experience and within a few hours that call had come through as well .

So a good lesson for organisations, even if you manage to really upset a customer you can turn it around and make that customer an advocate of your organisation. So Oyster card have their dustbin lid taken away from them I'm replacing it with a Gong which just goes to show how important it is to take care of even the most irate of customers. Plaudits to Peter Hendy, a leader who takes the time to communicate with and listen to his customers.   

Check out this blog again next week to see who are the not so proud recipients of the dustbin lids.





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