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CX Heroes and Villains: Rail and Energy

UK rail companies have come in for a battering recently – and rightly so: their performance has been devastatingly bad.  Last Wednesday alone Anne Widdecombe made some pointed comments in her column in the Daily Express and when I opened my latest copy of “Which?” magazine, their CEO, Peter Vicary Smith led his article with “This shambolic rail network is a disgrace” and went on the describe the situation involving “delays, complicated pricing and dirty trains”. (Not to mention, cancellations, overcrowding and annoying announcements from my own personal experience).  With such a background, one has to have sympathy for the staff at stations all over the country.  None of this chaos is their fault but they stand on the frontline for moans and complaints.

Heroes: Gatwick Express and Brighton station staff

Therefore, I am delighted to report that Metro had a short story in its “Good Deed Feed”, thanking staff at Gatwick Express and Brighton station for saving the day for a passenger who got off at Gatwick Airport but left his jacket – containing his passport – onboard.  They gave him a free ticket to pop down to Brighton, rang ahead and he was able to collect his belongings in time to catch his plane, with “time to spare for a tea and a bacon sandwich”.  The key points here are that the staff were able to make fast decisions, without reference to higher authority for the free ticket, and they were able to demonstrate teamwork between different entities in the rail network.  If only the whole system showed such customer concern!

Villains: Energy firms’ blocking tactics

Despite rising energy prices and the Government’s desire to encourage competition, the Regulator has told three suppliers to stop preventing their customers from using automated services to claim cheaper deals.

The companies involved are First Utility, OneSelect and Bulb.  Between them they have stopped hundreds of customers being switched because the process was instigated by Flipper or Switchd, auto-switching services.

Utility companies generally are not providing great services and they are lucky that the trains are so badly run that attention to their performance is drawn away… for the time being!

Don Hales

Having successfully built two major businesses using great customer service as his USP (long before it was fashionable), Don launched the National Customer Service Awards in 1998. Right from the start this event attracted over 1600 diners to the award event each year and Don started to use the stories as best practice examples to fuel his live presentations. Today as Chairman of Awards International – a leading awards company, operating in several countries and International Advisor to the Customer Experience Foundation, he remains an in-demand speaker on an international basis. He is joint author (with Derek Williams) of “Wow! That’s What I Call Service” and welcomes contributions to his “Customer Experience Heroes & Villains” series of articles. Now in his mid-70s, Don retains his enthusiasm and belief in the benefits of great service as a key business differentiator.