Number 73 London bus

Crossing London

In past blogs, I have spoken about slowing the pace of life. Putting to one side the trinkets of modern life i.e. the mobile phone or laptops and taking time to observe. This blog, entitled ‘Crossing London’, continues this thought process.

Places to be, people to see

More times than I care to remember have I had to travel across London from one station to another. At first I was proud at the speed that I could make the journey. My destination and timetable all encompassing.

As the number of trips I undertake dwindles, to be replaced by leisure trips, my attitude has changed. I now make this journey in a very leisurely fashion.

Discovery

The change first happened when I found myself with time to spare and I chose the number 73 bus to travel from Victoria to St Pancras in place of the over crowded Victoria line tube. This was a revelation.

Rather than dark tunnels, uniform corridors and crowds, I was treated to the wonderful sites of London. Monuments, parks, churches and architecture. I witnessed locals and visitors alike going about the business of the day. In place of the uniformity of the tube corridors, I relished the apparent randomness of life above ground.

Regular route

One of my regular cross London journeys is from Paddington station to St Pancras station. Whenever time and weather permit I elect to walk.

The most direct route for this would see you turn left out of Paddington and head towards Edgware road tube station. A gentle right onto Marylebone road. Then straight onto Euston Road until St Pancras.

Sights to see

As you walk you will see many sights. Westminster Magistrates court, Marylebone station. Baker street, Madame Tussauds, The Royal academy of music, Regents park, Great Portland street, Euston station, and the British library to name but a few. All that in just 45 minutes!

Introduce ‘Random’ to your life

I rarely walk that route! Infact, I rarely walk the same route twice.

I love nothing more than exploring en-route. Whilst keeping the tall landmarks in mind, it is easy to navigate a general direction without becoming lost.

The streets, shops, and pubs of Fitzrovia, Marylebone, and Bloomsbury. These are sites that you won’t see on the bus or any tour. You most certainly won’t see them on the tube.

The journey not only gives me exercise, it also gives me variety and interest. In my view, that is an unbeatable combination.

You can always stand under someone’s armpit staring through the windows onto the dark walls of the underground, or you can walk or use the bus. As you may determine, you know my preference.

Not Just in London – everywhere

I speak here of London, but the same can be said of very many cities. You rarely have to go far from your normal route to find a very different scene. In my local neighbourhood, there is a road into the city centre. It is long and straight. Boring almost. Just a few yards to one side, a canal runs in parallel. This is a far more attractive and interesting walk.

My plea

This weeks plea is therefore one of the simplest and cheapest that I have ever made.

Be aware of your surroundings. Give yourself time to walk and explore. As I explain in the above text, you need not wander too far off route.

Not only will you get exercise but you will see and experience more than you would if you follow the same old routes and routines.

It doesn’t just have to be Crossing London!

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Pragmatic Question

Covid Pragmatism

It seems very rare these days that pragmatism and common sense raise their head above the parapet. When Covid is concerned, such an event is even rarer. I have seen Covid Pragmatism.

At the time of writing this post, the UK Government are considering the subject of Christmas. Specifically if restrictions can be lifted for the festive period.

There are surely conflicting opinions on this topic.

Warnings about the cost of relaxation

Warnings have been issued that for every 1 day we relax restrictions over Christmas, 5 days of additional restrictions will need to be endured. Is that a price worth paying?

Surveys

Today I have seen 2 separate online surveys on this very subject.

The first was a fairly generic question asking on the opinion of Christmas and asking if people would give it up this year.

The second, was a very specific question. Given the 1 day of relaxation costing 5 days of extra restrictions, how many days of relaxation would you like. The results, at the time I completed the survey, we extremely pragmatic. Over 42% of respondents said 0 (zero) with 1,2 & 3 days each polling around 20% of the responses.

Pragmatism

This is the general public being pragmatic.

I perhaps conclude that this is pragmatic because it aligns with my opinion. However, It tells us much about what people are thinking.

Will the United Kingdom give up its hard earn’t position on COVID for a day or 2 of rule relaxation, or, is it better to carry on and restore normality sooner?

So much has been given

The public have given much this year. Most assuredly it has been challenging and emotional for most people. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

In my opinion, it would be foolish to give up on the hard work. Indeed, I believe it would be dangerous.

With positive news around vaccines, we have much to look forward to. The fabled light at the end of the tunnel really exists and it is becoming brighter by the day.

We must not be short sighted.

What will our leaders do?

The big unknown is what the Government will do. Given the second survey I spoke of was a YouGov poll, you would hope that they are taking notice of public opinion. As a result of this, I must ask, “will they act on it?”. Will COVID Pragmatism be a thing?

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StPancras Roof

St Pancras

As we rush around with our ever so busy lives, many are almost blind to some of their surroundings. St Pancras is a classic example.

Railway Stations

Some of the most overlooked buildings are railways stations. This is odd, as we visit them so frequently.

There are many fantastic examples to behold. Newcastle central with its curving roof, Glasgow central with its dark wooden interior. There are also many small stations that are loved and cared for by the local residents.

They are part of our rich heritage.

St Pancras

One of the stations that I visit regularly in normal times is London St  Pancras international. During my time, I have seen changes beyond anything you could ever have imagined at this station. Like so many, it has a rich history and at times was nearly lost.

History

Opened in 1868 the station is considered to be one of the wonders of Victorian engineering. As well as this, the hotel which fronts the station is a wonderous architectural building and instantly recognisable.

The station today, is a magnificent building that stands as a visitor attraction in its own right and is so much more than a train station. It was not always this way.

The station was built by the Midland Railway Company (MRC) to be the terminal station of the Midland Railway which connects the Midlands cities of Sheffield, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and many others to the capital city.

St Pancras is the younger relative of London Kings Cross by just 15 years. It opened in 1868.

Designed and built by William Henry Barlow (Chief Engineer), Rowland Mason Ordish (Station Layout) and George Gilbert Scott (Architect for the hotel and station accommodation) the station had an unusual feature that until recently, few people new about.

Challenging construction

The station had to fit in a tight and complex space. In the days of its construction, railway lines could not enter the centre of London (which is why London has a circle of terminal stations around it) . There was also the Metropolitan railway below .  Other challenges included the Regents canal, the little known River fleet and not mention the gas works.

If you visit the station now, you will note that the Midland mainline platforms (1-4) and the Eurostar platforms are significantly above the street level. This was the level of the original station. The shops and café’s below, occupy space which previously had a very different use.

The Roof

One of the most striking and magnificent features of the station must surely be the roof of the main shed.

The roof is made up of 25 arched trusses each weighing 55 tons. At the time the station was constructed, these formed the largest single span roof in the world.

Redevelopment

During the redevelopment, the station bed was cut to expose the area below. The station bed, was originally held in place by 688 cast iron columns so that the trains could pass over the regents canal and avoid an incline to the first station along the route; Kentish Town.

The area that was exposed and now forms the main concourse of the station beautifully highlights a number of these cast iron posts along with some ingenious modern engineering that allows for some movement and vibration of the main concrete slab.

This concourse area was primarily used as a barrel store used by the brewers from Burton on Trent. Indeed, the distance between the pillars was specifically chosen to match those of a number of beer barrels.

Local Materials

What many people do not realise, is that many of the materials used to construct the station were sourced from locations along the route. This was done to highlight the skills and products that were available in the areas served by the Midlands Railway route.

Much of the iron work was manufactured by the Butterley Company using minerals found in the Erewash valley. Many of the red bricks were supplied by a Nottingham brick company.

Inside the main shed, other than the stunning roof, the large clock is almost as recognisable as the station itself. However, this is not the original clock. The original was removed in 1968.

Transformation

The St Pancras of the 80’s and 90’s was something of a depressing place. The building was stained from years of steam and diesel trains. The grime of the roof meant it was rarely a bright place. It was perhaps this appearance that led it to being used in the opening scenes of Porridge starring Ronnie Barker as Fletcher.

The stations future was in some serious doubt until the Government announced that St Pancras was the preferred terminal station for the channel tunnel.

Those who travelled through the station during the late 90’s and early 2000’s were to witness and amazing transformation. From a personal perspective, the landscape immediately around the station was transformed into a bewildering array of construction sites and concrete. It was amazing to see this slowly transform into what we have today. The old gas cylinders once synonymous with the final approach to a dark and dirty station have been transformed. Open public spaces and the features of the Regent canal all blend into a clean, modern area.

As the builders hoardings were slowly removed, we were introduced to the new St Pancras. A station truly fit for the international gateway that it is today. It is now most assuredly a fantastic place in which to arrive. No longer a station, but an attraction in its own right.

Twinning

The station is now twinned with Grand Central station in New York which has an equally stunning architecture. They make a good pairing.

My plea.

This weeks plea to my audience is so very simple.

Take a few moments in your life to slow down a little. Look around. Lift your gaze from the mobile phone in your hand and appreciate your surroundings.

In the UK, we are blessed with such glorious architecture. It surrounds us for so much of the time. Please take a little time to appreciate it and the history that it represents.

St Pancras is a truly fantastic example of what the human race can achieve!

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Autumn

Autumn

For many, Autumn is a sublime time of the year. I am not in disagreement with these people.

As the weather cools, nature entertains and cheers us with a stunning display of colours. A rich mix of Browns, Yellows and reds. These colours are contrasted against the bright blue sky of the autumnal sunshine. The air becomes crisp and fresh.

As summer clothes are swapped for winter attire, the cacophony of natural colours are matched by bright scarves and hats of people walking through nature.

Short-lived

This autumnal showcase is, alas, short-lived. The vibrant colours fade to a dull brown and disappear leaving trees devoid of foliage and colour.

Gone is the greens of summer, and the reds, yellows and browns of autumn. As the warmth of summer is replaced with the chill of winter, the human race prepares itself for the short days and long nights that accompany the winter season. The flower buds of spring seem somewhat distant.

Whilst I do love the few weeks of colour, I am reminded that it signals the start of the long, cold, dark winter evenings. I find these evenings something of a challenge. I am not a homely person, I like to be out. However, this year I must learn to love my home.

More challenging than ever

This year, I fear will be more challenging than most. Coronavirus and being seperated from friends and family will be a hard addition to the normal challenges.

Gaps in the photo album

There will no doubt be events that will be missing from the calendar that can never be replaced. Moments in life that will not be captured and remembered. I have in mind the parents that may miss out on a school carol service or nativity play. These moments can not be recreated at a later date and will be missing from the photo album forever.

The festive celebrations will, for many be subdued and challenging. We know not what form these celebrations will take. Due to this lack of knowledge, preparing ourselves for it to be different is a must.

Some of the activities that we partake in over the festive period will take on more significance and importance. More joy must be extracted from the simple activities such as decorating the tree. The giving and receiving of gifts. The music. Remembering the true meaning of the festive period.

Remember those that may struggle

More than that, we must remember and support those people who may be alone. Those that struggle through the dark evenings in the best of times.

I truly hope that the community spirit that was so welcome and prevalent earlier in the year will return. Once more, the local community becomes more important than ever before.

I for one, look to the next couple of months with a sense of unease. I feel strong mentally at the moment and I hope that I can maintain this. However, we must look out for people who struggle. We must help each other. Together, as a community, we will work our way through this.

It would be true to say, that we never really know what the future holds. This autumn, that statement is more relevant than ever. Undoubtedly there will be difficulties that need to be overcome. Overcome them we surely must.

As always, I have a plea to you all.

Obtain joy and satisfaction from every place that you can. Allow yourself to be entertained and cheered by the simple things. Use the technology that is all encompassing in our world for good. Focus on the local community, the people on the street where you live. Always remember that the smallest acts of kindness will make a real difference to people. Please remember that your small actions really matter.

You perhaps think that this post is mis-timed. However, the normal routines of winter will need to be thought about and planned. We need to think ahead. Identify those that may need help. As a result, we need to start now.

And Remember..

Following autumn and winter, Spring and summer will surely follow.

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Downing Street

4 Clearly does not go into 1

Does anyone think that the current situation regarding COVID restrictions is a complete and utter farce?  4 clearly does not go into 1.

“What I am I on about now?”, I hear you say.

To alleviate your misery and anxiety (I think there is enough of that already), I will tell you. The situation with the differing lock down restrictions in the 4 countries of our once fantastic United Kingdom.

Politicians not delivering on their promise

Despite the politicians making statements that they would attempt to closely align. And Despite the World Health Organisation saying that it’s too late for lockdowns, each of the four countries are implementing wildly different lockdown rules.

Remember clear and simple?

If this is their idea of clear and simple messaging then they clearly don’t need the great British press to help confuse the issue (although I suspect the press will continue their games).

Devolution

Whether you support devolution or not, there can be no greater example of it not working.

Even within England, the government and the local authorities are not working the same. Why is each and every tier 3 proposal a negotiation? It is utter madness!

My area

In the area that I reside, the negotiations are taking so long we have gone down 8 places in the COVID league tables at the time of writing/recording this. Give it another week and we won’t need to go up to tier 3. Oh, wait, that can’t be true because no one knows how you get down a tier.

Support is fading fast

I have previously been vocal in support of the government. I have been on record saying that whilst every political party have made mistakes, as long as they were trying to do the right thing, then I could accept mistakes. After all, there is no rule book for this situation.

Like many others, my patience is wearing very thin. For me it’s not about if lockdowns are needed, nor indeed if they work (there are plenty of opinions both scientific and political on that point) but the political and bureaucratic stupidity that surrounds it.

COVID politics

Throughout the pandemic, Nicola sturgeon has been playing political games and point scoring over Westminster . The timing of her press conferences and the comments make that clear. The refusal between the administration’s to conform on 1 standard is the icing in the cake!

I am utterly sick and tired of the political posturing. The ability for them to work together does not seem to exist. For me, they are ALL equally to blame. This is not a time for political point scoring. This should be the time for a single common approach. Be that local restrictions to a United Kingdom standard through national lock downs to letting the virus do its thing and beefing up the NHS to cope. I am almost at the point where I don’t care.

I say almost, because I certainly do care. But I want the elected leaders to do just that – Lead!

My plea to the “Leaders”

Again, as I so often do, I make a plea.

This time it is to our elected leaders. Please put aside your political differences and work together. Now, more than ever, the British public deserve clear, consistent and definite moves made based on the best advice available.

Further more, when you make rules, give it sufficient time to see if they are working before bringing in more. Surely, you want to know which rule is making the difference!

Stay Safe, even though 4 clearly does not go into 1.

 

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Stick with me

Loyalty

A single word in the English dictionary, but with such powerful meaning: Loyalty

Not only powerful, but desperately important, both in friendship and in business.

Imagine

Can you imagine not knowing if you’re your friend will be your friend tomorrow? I have often written or spoke about the importance of friendship and real friends. Equally in tough times, showing loyalty to a small local business is so very important.

I am going to discuss both types of loyalty as they mean so much to me.

Friendship

When it comes to friendship, I judge a real friend to be a person that you know will be there for you during thick and thin, good times and bad. You know that no matter how the friendship started, that person will be there for you. That is true loyalty. Loyalty that can’t be measured, nor should you feel the need to measure it. I will repeat what I have said in previous blogs, if you have 2 such friends, you are rich indeed.

Give and take

As with anything in life, it is not just about accepting loyalty. Giving loyalty is possibly even more important. It may not always be easy. They do say that a friend in need is a pain! I don’t consider this to be true. A friend in need who comes to you for help is a friend that recognises the friendship and loyalty. They trust you will be there for them. That alone is recognition that they value the friendship and know you will be there for them. There can be no greater complement.

Business

In my opinion, it would be true to say that human friendship and loyalty is simple and clear cut. The world of business loyalty is far more complex and confusing.

As with loyalty in friendships, loyalty in business is a two way street.

You know who you are loyal to

If you are like me, there are certain businesses or brands that you trust implicitly. It may be a small local shop. Perhaps your local boozer. Maybe it is a big chain store.

The loyalty that you have is likely to have been built up over a long period of time. Months, years or perhaps even decades.

I am absolutely certain that you can name half a dozen such businesses that you will go out of your way to use. Those businesses will have served you well. Been there when you expected them to be. They will provide the service that you have come to know and appreciate.

That loyalty will have been hard earned by those businesses. Perhaps long hours. They may have tolerated you when you perhaps unknowingly upset them. It is possible that they helped you even when they knew you were wrong.

For their hard work, you choose to use that business or service over others when you can. You probably go out of your way to use them and support them.

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

Some don’t get it

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

How many times do you have to change company when they don’t recognise your loyalty? Perhaps when they give a better to deal to a new customer than they would to a long term customer. In 20+ years of owning a house, I think I have changed my insurance and utility providers in all but one year. Why? Simple, they are not willing to work for that loyalty, nor recognise it. Where is the loyalty in that? It is the same with banks and building societies, after an introductory period, the interest rates will rise or drop depending on the product.

For me, this defies any sort of logic. Surely it is better (and cheaper) to keep the customers they have. Attracting new customers is expensive and time consuming so why do they choose to alienate the customers who may become loyal if they were treated fairly.

Lies, Damn lies and statistics

Sure, in business it may look better on the balance sheet and reporting to show that they have gained x number of customers and hope that those customers will fall onto the ‘normal’ rates after a period of time. It’s what the shareholders like to see. What doesn’t show on a balance sheet is customer good will. They figures won’t show how much it cost to acquire those customers with cheap deals, advertising, on boarding etc. In many ways, what the shareholders are told goes back to the topic of lies, damn lies and statistics.

From my perspective, the best customers a business can have a rare loyal ones. They will promote your company more than a disgruntled one will. They will also respond with loyalty if, as a company, they earn it.

That has got to be better for customer and company alike. Surely that must be true. Put even in more simplistic terms, is it not just doing what is right?

In both of these scenarios, there is probably more to discuss and consider than I have time for in this blog and podcast. My view may be overly simplistic, potentially flawed in someways. It is however The rule that I live by. I want to offer my loyalty if I can and I so very much appreciate the loyalty that I believe I can count on and trust.

If the local community and high street achieved such levels of loyalty in terms of community and business, how wonderful would it be? The stress and pressures of life would reduce. Perhaps we would even be happier in our lives.

My plea to you

As is often the case,  I am finishing this weeks entry with a plea to all the people who read or listen to this. The please is simply to try and offer loyalty whenever you feel you can. Both to your closest friends and the those small local businesses that are close to you.

 

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Lies, Damn lies and statistics

Lies, Damn lies and statistics

In a blog and podcast a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Great British press. Their ability to fill hours of broadcast time and newspaper columns with no facts at all is really quite staggering. However, if you ask for the plain facts, then you are opening your arms to a deluge of statistics. Not just statistics, but lies, damn lies and statistics!

Statistics are dangerous. Sounds like an odd statement? Perhaps, but please hear me out.

Stats will tell you anything you want

I do believe that you can find statistics that you can use to prove anything that you want to. Equally, you can find statistics that will disprove it.

Not only this, but people often don’t know what the statistics represent. Nor do they always understand what is good and bad. I see this almost every day of my working life.

At it’s simplest, I could say to you that 50% of the people in a pub like me. Conversely, 50% of the people in the pub don’t like me. Perhaps an overly simplistic example, but you get what I mean.

So why do I chose to discuss this topic right now? Well right now, we need clear and concise information.

No News and statistics overload

When I spoke about the Great British Press talking about no facts for hours on end I stated that I wanted facts rather than rumour. Equally, I don’t want statistics overload. Nor do I want more ambiguity and confusion. We have enough ambiguity and confusion right now!

If you look on the internet for statistics on Coronavirus, you will find them. Boy, will you find them. But what are they telling us? If you know, then you are probably a better person than me.

Whilst the topic can cover anything, it is pertinent to discuss the covid stats.

We are deluged with graphs and charts. The media is full of them. But you don’t need to look to far to see that the stats presented are rarely independent. Lets face it, bad news and sensationalism sells newspapers. They attract audiences. The press flood us with shock and awe almost to the level of doomsday prophesies. Infections are going through the roof, hospitals admissions are rising after only a day or two of new rules. Sound familiar?

If you look at what the stats are, spend some time thinking about them, understanding them, you soon learn that they don’t always make sense. Yet how many people actually do that? Who takes a look at the charts and then just listens to the commentary? They believe what they are told, not always what they say.

So what do we do?

Firstly, identify the question that you want an answer to. Don’t think about the answer that you want, be open minded.

Next, do your own research and build the understanding of what information you need to help you answer your question.

Then, source the data from a reliable source that you trust. Stick with that data. Understand the data.

The data you want, may not always give you a happy answer. If you expect that you will start looking for different data that will tell you want to hear. What’s the point in that?

We need News, Facts and sensible stats. Let’s avoid Lies, Damn lies and statistics.

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Rail Tracks

Rail Unions

Before I start talking about Rail Unions, I would like to make it clear that I am not against unions as such.

The concept of a union is great. Throughout our working lives, we all need support at some time or other. Having someone there to support help and represent you is without doubt a good thing.

Having said that, there are also bad sides to our unions.

I really do not understand why the unions deem it necessary to link to a political party nor why they think that strike action is a suitable action.

So why do I rant about this now?

The answer is simple. I have been affected by a strike. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic the RMT union has called a strike. Of all the things a staycation might be impacted by in the current climate, this is not one I expected.

I have had to make alternative arrangements at an additional cost to myself. If this was due to the pandemic I would have accepted. To say I am livid about this would be an understatement.

Strike action

It may be an unpopular view in some quarters, but I believe strike action is disruptive, counterproductive and childish!

Disruptive

A strike disrupts the lives of the people who pay the wages of the staff and funds the union – the customers. Why would anyone think that this might be a good idea? Personally, I go out of my way to look after my customers. After all, they provide my livelihood.

Counterproductive

Whatever the grievance maybe, I don’t believe losing money, continuity of pension payments and all the associated hardships that it would bring to the staff and families can be justified. Not only this, but it alienates people who may otherwise support them.

Childish

Do you remember when you were a kid? Perhaps playing a board game with the parents. When you were not winning or getting your own way you would have a tantrum. Throw the board in the air and say, “I’m not playing anymore”. 

There are distinct similarities between a child losing a game and strike action. i.e. lets have a strop and not play anymore!

Professional

As professional adults, in a safety critical role, surely a childish attitude is not normal. For me, this is an internal discussion between employer and employee. Anyone who has been in work for a number of years will no doubt have had disagreements with their seniors. The question of it is appropriate to air your grievances in front of both your customers and the public does not seem a professional way of proceeding. Most assuredly it is not something I would contemplate.

Talk

The best way to resolve the issue is to talk it through sensibly and find the middle ground. Threatening to eject you toys from the pram and storming out does no one any good.

I am sure the union leaders would say they have tried to talk. Compromise has been attempted. However, I believe that ultimately they are failed politicians and want to try and play in that arena. The staff just become a pawn in their attempt to make a political point.

Plea

My plea to the unions and their members. Don’t take strike action. No one gains. If you win some benefit, you do so at what cost? Please resolve your difference in an adult and discrete way. I don’t want to know you troubles, I have enough of my own and you are only adding to them.

You have a great opportunity and responsibility as a union to help and support your members. But do it in a positive and constructive way. You are not politicians. 

Rail Unions – Grow up.

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CustomerServiceRevisited

Customer Service Revisited

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post that talked about Customer Service. It is now time to cover this once more – Customer service revisited.

In the first article, I asked the simple question, should getting good customer service be a battle?

The obvious answer, is “No, it should not be a battle”. I whole heartedly agree with such an answer.

Some companies have it right but it goes without saying that many companies get it wrong.

I like to think that I am fair and balanced when it comes to recognising and commenting and such things. 

In the last week, I have witnessed the rather excellent, and the downright ugly. I will discuss both.

It should be noted, that both these interactions with customer services took place over the increasingly popular online chat. I actually don’t mind these as they do offer convenience. Sure, you don’t get the human interaction, the body language or the tome of voice, but it can be rather convenient

The Good

I would first like to discuss the good.

The company concerned is an internet service provider. In-fact, they host some of my web sites.

I have had cause to contact them twice in the last week. In the first instance I raised a case online as I had some queries which were not particularly urgent. The second contact was via the online chat as I was having technical difficulties that I needed help on.

In both instances, I got very prompt responses. The raised case was answered in about 15 minutes. Via online chat the technician was instantly available and stayed with me until the problem was resolved. I could absolutely ask for nothing more.

In both cases the representatives were friendly, courteous, helpful and went over an above to help out. Fantastic.

The bad and the ugly

The UK’s mobile telephone companies are not known for their high quality customer service. Researching on the internet it is usually scored low. That may be unfair in some cases, however it does tally with most experiences that I have had.

The issue I encountered was one of a service that I had taken out was not up to the expectations that had been set, rightly or wrongly in my mind by their representatives.

When I contacted them regarding the subject, I was instantly made aware that this was not going to be a good experience and indeed it wasn’t, or should I say still isn’t!

Wrong attitude

The attitude of the representative(s) was instantly aggressive. Immediately, they were checking logs of conversation’s and chats that had happened. This instantly tells me that they are not interested in helping, nor are they interested in listening. All they were bothered about was protecting themselves and their interests. This is know as an ‘Inside out’ company. I.e. one that exists to serve its own purposes not to serve the customers.

The conversation continued and because they found no log of the conversation that set my expectations they effectively accused me of lying! Whilst they never used the words, the insinuation was there.

However, I persisted, never losing my calm or being abusive, I just wanted them to take ownership of the issue. The first agent hung up on me. Without delay, I instantly reconnected and the second agent hung up on me after telling me I needed to phone another department in the morning.

It was only on my 3rd attempt that I got a manager who did take a level of ownership and logged the complaint.

Two very very different experiences.

Why?

What causes me much puzzlement is why. Why would a company be aggressive and defensive and the other extremely helpful.

I really wish I knew the answer to that question.

A key differentiator

I often shop and give business to those companies that excel at customer service. It is important to me. So very important. I guess I just want an easy life!

Who would you choose?

So which company will I recommend? Which company would I actively tell people to avoid?

I think the answer to that question is obvious. Not only that, but I now want to quit the company with poor service. So not only will I warn people against them, they will be losing my business.

Advertising

Word of mouth recommendation is one of the most powerful promoters or detractors. For those that get the service right it is a massively positive effect. The converse is unfortunately true.

It comes from the top

I do not blame the staff on the front line, the execs and so called customer service experts that set the standards, process and procedures are to blame. I am sure those people working for the bad company would help me if they could.

To all my listeners, I would repeat what I said earlier in the year. Stand up for yourself. Do not be wronged or tolerate poor service. Equally, celebrate the good.

Vote with your money and your opinion.

Stand up for good

Perhaps if more people take a stand against the poor service, those companies will be hit where it hurts – in their wallet and will do something about it.

It should not be a battle. Customer service should be easy. Seamless. Those companies are out there. Please support them.

 

Thank you for reading ‘Customer Service Revisited’.

Reference

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TheGreatBriishMedia

The Great British Press

I have often discussed the topic of the great British press with my friends. As a result, and to follow on from my previous blog about having too much news, I am going to discuss the press and media.

Not only the British press, but the speculation, guessing, rumours, and sensationalism that goes with it.

22nd September 2020

The date is Tuesday 22nd September 2020. This day provides us with a great example of what is wrong with the system right now.

The day started with few facts. People started the day knowing that their was a cabinet meeting of the government.  Also known was  that a statement would be made to the commons by the Prime Minister about Coronavirus.

Discussing no news

Cue, rumour, speculation, sensationalism, expert opinion. In other words, ZERO news.

There was only one fact that seemed to have been leaked and that related to the pubs having to close at 10 PM.

Speculation and Rumour

The TV and radio managed to fill hour after of hour of expert analysis on nothing. Spreading rumours of lockdown, travel bans, circuit breaks. All of which were pure conjecture.

Work on facts

I have learnt through my profession, that the best decisions are based on facts. With facts, I can make logical decisions. To go on a staycation or not to go on staycation. To work in the office or from home. Do I order shopping for delivery or to go to the supermarket.

Is it good for us?

Why oh why, do we tolerate hours and hours of experts and journalists guessing the future? Is this productive? Can we consider this useful or helpful? I think not.

Indeed, I would suggest the opposite. The actions of the journalists has a negative affect on people. It adds stress. Uncertainty and confusion rules. As well as this, it confuses the message and news when it does actually arrive.

It is my belief that this is not only unhelpful, but dangerous. Everyone is calling for clarity of message, yet the journalists are confusing it.

Report News rather than speculation

I fully respect and certainly welcome a free press. If done properly, they are a valuable part of society. I even enjoy the analysis and commentary that they provide on facts that they know.

My plea to the journalists is report facts. Analyse facts. Provide your thoughts on the facts. But please, stop muddying the waters. Stop causing confusion. Right now, we need clarity of message. The responsibility of distributing that message lays firmly with the journalist, newspapers, radio and TV. It is a big responsibility. The population needs them to pass the messages and facts accurately.

We need The Great British Press to behave responsibly.

Reference

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