Monday, April 23, 2012

PPM and customer service

Last week I had an interesting interaction with Virgin Australia. I wanted to make significant changes to a booking and I understood that there would be a fee involved. To check on the process I phoned Virgin and received clear instructions on how it could be done on line and what the fee would be. I then went on line to make the changes but, no matter what I tried, something wouldn't work. I again phoned Virgin, spoke to a different person, and was then told that the changes could only be made over the phone and that, because I was doing it by phone, there would be further charges! Even though Virgin Australia's policies may have no such intention, the person with whom I spoke left me with the impression that some form of price gouging may be involved. When I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager I was told that this wasn't possible and that, even if I did speak with one, I would be given the same message!! So much for Virgin Australia Service!

Two phone calls. Two different "service" people. Two totally different messages. I find it very easy to forget the first, helpful person and very easy to remember the second, very unhelpful and uncooperative person. Unfortunately for Virgin, as is usually the case in customer service interactions, it is the negative experience which tends to dominate.

I have written quite a few blogs on customer service (they're all available below). It is a sad fact that today, with organisations' emphasis on short term to medium term results and the use of outsourced and casual staff, cultures of relatively short term expediency seem to be replacing service and commitment. As I have said before about PPM (Piss Poor Management), it starts at the top by actions of commission and/or omission. In the case of my recent experience with Virgin Australia I suspect the "omission" aspect applies as contradictory messages (both direct and implied) were given.

Today's business environment is increasingly competitive and customers are increasingly price conscious. Things like air travel that once were "special" are now a commodity. Those supplying commodities need to offer something special to set themselves apart and to encourage customer/client loyalty - and "loyalty programs" don't fit this bill. Good management and good leadership recognises this and works constantly to ensure this "something special" is always on show and applied.

"We the people" are happy to respond positively when we feel that service providers really are providing service. Don't we?

What do you think? Please make your comments below.

More about Doug Long at

No comments:

Post a Comment