THE LAST WORD
With Neil Haverson
W e’ve all had bolshy sales assistants serve us, been promised a call back that never comes or gone into the bank to find the person at the head of the queue is paying in his takings in several bags of coins. We whinge, but then we get served and forget about it.
Well I’m expecting things to improve. Sitting in my inbox are no less than six emails from people I have dealt with in the past fortnight almost begging me for feedback on my experience with their company.
“What could have been better?” asks one. “Let us know so we can fix it.”
Another pledges: “We’ll use your feedback to help us improve your experience and to make sure we’re focused on the things that matter to you!” Really? Just for me? All of them asked me to fill in an online survey. As a reward one offered to put me in a draw for £1,000 if I answered their questions – and, as an added incentive, I could take the prize in Euros.
My bank named the teller that dealt with me and wanted to know if she was helpful and friendly; did she make things easy and did she understand my needs?
My needs? If she took note of my bank balance she’d have been in no doubt.
In fact, she was a lovely girl but she did have to check something with a colleague. But I didn’t put that in the comments panel in the survey.
I mean, can you imagine it? The email said: “The information you provide will help us improve our service,” so I could see her being summoned to the manager’s office.
“Mr Haverson has been in touch. He tells us you had to ask Cynthia how long his cheque would take to clear. I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.”
The surveys only took three or four minutes – except one. It was from a well-knowm high street store that’s never knowingly undersold. Its survey would take 15 minutes, but it referred to clothing purchased by Mrs H. I aborted. That’s something I am wholly unqualified to comment on.
And they all wanted to know which age bracket I was in. Surely the standard of service should apply whatever age. Or did they think: “Oh he’s a moaning old codger, we can ignore him.”
Finally I got one from a hotel we stayed at recently. How, they wanted to know, could they improve my stay? I let them have it.
“Please, please,” I wrote, “let’s have some real ale instead of the weak, tasteless, gassy stuff.”
So, next time you stay at one of the hotels where Lenny Henry promises you a good night’s sleep, check out the bar and let me know if they’ve taken heed of my words.
I noticed in these surveys companies no longer have staff. They have teams. Most of the emails came from “The Customer Services Team”. I remembered seeing evidence of this all around the hotel we stayed at.
Doors, instead of being market “Private” or “Staff Only”, were labelled “Team Members Only.” I half expected the door to burst open and a squad of uniformed chambermaids clutching their dusters jog out to the theme tune of Match of the Day.
It was even on the menu in the restaurant. If I wanted a boiled egg for breakfast I was urged to ask “one of the team”. Did this mean they have a boiled egg team? If I wanted my bacon crispy should I find a member of the bacon team?
Maybe it’s just me that’s sceptical about this. Perhaps I should find out. I’ll conduct a survey.