Yes .... What do you Want?

30 March 2010

Last week I received a letter that was addressed to someone in a neighbouring town. And as luck would have it, I met my postal worker (gender neutral… I’m not suggesting he/she’s batting for the other side … I just don’t want to upset the politically correct among us) at the door this morning, so I could happily pass back the misdirected mail. But it wasn’t quite that easy. And the conversation went something like this:

Me:                    Hi - this letter needs redirecting.
Postal Worker: Where’s the nearest post box?
Me:                    On Booth Street.
Postal Worker: Well can you repost it then?
Me:                     Can’t you?
Postal Worker: I’m not going that way.


Maybe I’m slowly and worryingly turning into Victor Meldrew, because in truth, the post box is actually only a short five minute walk away, and I’d surely be passing it soon enough. But then I also cling to the hope that my Postie would equally be passing a post box in the next couple of weeks. I was going to ask whether last Christmas’ industrial action had been a success and if so – what the gripe actually was – but I thought better of it. Not quite Meldrew yet then, thanks goodness.

But when did ‘the customer’s always right’ turn into ‘the customer’s a pain in the backside’? Embarrassingly bad service has been lampooned as long ago as when Basil Fawlty thrilled the nation with his 1970’s bigotry. But more recently David Walliams’ hideous ‘Computer says No’ character was too close for comfort.

There’s still something quite funny about the experience of being served by one so devoid of charisma, courtesy and wit that they look and sound like they’ve just walked into a door. But, and here comes the business message, it’s not in the slightest bit amusing for the employer. Because, other than for twisted people like me, bad service leads to the more discerning customer going elsewhere.

A smile costs nothing. So if your people can’t be friendly or helpful get rid of them (having followed employment regulations closely of course). At times like these, make sure that all of your staff can help to improve your business, unless they’re so hilariously bad that they make everyone else laugh – but that’s a risky approach which I can’t condone.

Stuart Wilkin writes for Insider –          

Posted  30 March 2010


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