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The good, the bad, and the ugly...update!

Tuesday, 22nd February 2011

My rather spontaneous blog last week was inspired by some rather poor personal customer service from TalkTalk, but was aimed at trying to understand the general customer service differences between sectors. I have a glimmer of a theory that certain sectors are generally good, others generally ugly, and that there must be a way of changing the behaviour of the ugly into somthing more attractive.

To kick the debate off (see the full article, and all the responses here), I suggested that coffee shops were generally good, telecoms companies generally ugly, and banks somewhere in the middle (bad).

One of the debates that was sparked was about the relationship between price and service - one reader suggested that if you choose something on price alone, you should expect (or deserve?!) poor service. I countered with an argument that the two things need not be inextricably linked, and further, that a comparison of Jet2 versus Ryanair would bear my argument out.

I should note here that my blog correspondent flew Ryanair last night - on a rather delayed flight - and I'm next flying with Jet2 at the weekend.

My argument was that these two organisations, both low-cost operators (although how low in comparison to each other is open to question as price clarity is tricky to find), nonetheless differ significantly in service standards; Jet2 being pretty good in my personal experience, and Ryanair being a company I will never, ever fly with again - I'd rather walk.

With my booking for this coming weekend, I had cause to contact Jet2 last night. I didn't want to use a premium rate phone number - the call centres were close at that time anyway - and I have a fear and loathing of most call centres anyway (HMRC VAT office is a noble exception - they are lovely people! No, seriously!).

Instead, because there was no obvious way of emailing "customer services" (they are not the only company to fall down in this regard), I decided to email a few specific people - the Chief Exec, the Finance Director, the MD and the Operations Director. A little bit of research enabled me to do so, and I pressed "send" at 10:30pm last night.

Before 8am, I'd had a reply from the Chief Exec. He thanked me for my email and had forwarded it to the customer service group. Just before 9am, and again just after 11am, the General Manager of Customer Service called - I missed the calls as I was in meetings, which is another reason why I wanted to e-mail them rather than call. She then also e-mailed me, explained the situation beautifully, and wished me a good trip.

My thoughts

This process has interested me considerably...

These things support some of my basic philosophies about customer service, specifically:

Creating positive feelings in your customers' hearts and minds should be at the forefront of everything an organisation does. However "low-cost" an operator you are.

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March 28, 2013 - 22:14
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Hi I wonder if you can give me some advice, I booked a flight with Jet2 earlier in the year as it was cheap but only one way hoping my OB flight would also become cheaper. This did not happen and I soon found out booking one way was counterproductive. I contacted Jet2 including PWard and IDoubtfire asking for a discretionary refund so I could rebook my flights, of course this was not forthcoming. I then realised if I changed the date of my existing IB flight I had enough points around 1300 to use on another flight. This was to solve all my problems so I changed the date on my existing flight then within 15mins went to book my IB flight using my points to discover that I no longer had enough points to use as they somehow had been reduced to 1045 short of the 1200 I needed withiin 15mins? I had no notification or reason for this reducation and was not promted to use them when changing my existing flight? My booking confirmation show no credit for the missing points? I am now unable to book my OB flight again? Can you advise what I should do? I have emailed the aforementioned again but am lost and feel that I am being stitched up by Jet2, it's as if they knew I was about to use them so reduced them so I couldn't. Sorry for the long post can you help in any way?


gravatar Shirley – North Yorkshire
February 01, 2013 - 14:16
Subject: Great service

Hi Simon,
Sometimes you really remind me of a male version of myself. You did just what I would have done in the absence of a customer service e-mail address! I am totally focused on customer service at the moment with all my February delivery days being on this very subject. You're so right - great service can come from anyone who is willing to take a little bit of responsibility for helping you out! It starts with recruiting people with the right attitude and then training them and keeping them engaged and interested in their job. Easy eh?

gravatar Norman Hill
July 05, 2011 - 17:17

Jet2 shows their colour again.

Leeds Bradford to Belfast Int. Flight No LS327 Departing Monday 27th June at 17.30 hrs was cancelled at 17.00.

Excuse given Cancelled due to technical fault.

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No overnight accommodation or meals were provided.
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Reply to Norman Hill
gravatar Simon Roskrow – North Yorkshire
July 05, 2011 - 17:55
Subject: Thanks for your comment

Hi Norman

Thanks for your comment - and your story shows how rare it is for a customer service ethos to be consistent both across and up/down an organisation. From what you say, the issue was clearly Jet2's, and yet they failed spectacularly to look after their customers.

What I'd like to do, with your permission, is send your comment to the top team at Jet2, and invite a response both here and directly to you, as long as you let me know that it would be OK to let him have your e-mail address.

It'll be interesting to see what the response is from the top, compared to from the staff at ground level...!

Do let me know whether you're OK with this approach.

Kind regards, Simon.

gravatar Spencer – UK
June 10, 2011 - 15:56
Subject: Approach Customer service from an inclusive angle

I'm passionate about good customer service, I'll happily pay more for certain products/services if I know I'm going to have a great customer journey. From start to finish the journey needs to be hitting all the right notes (from initial contact through to aftersales service).

We deliver training to businesses around good customer service for deaf people. Deaf people have barriers along the usual/standard customer journey that prevents them from engaging and buying products and services.

If businesses were to look at their customer journey for ALL customers, they will be amazed at

a) how little they need to do to make themselves more accessible
b) how those additional things they can put in place can be used by ALL customers, making everyones journey easier.

One example - deaf people find it difficult to use telephones - so offer email, SMS and online webchat - which can be used by ALL customers depending on their choice of convenient communications (you wanted to contact Jet2 by email instead of telephone.)

To find out a bit more on this inclusive approach may I add this link:

Best regards

Reply to Spencer
gravatar Simon Roskrow – North Yorkshire
June 20, 2011 - 14:55
Subject: Re: Approach Customer service from an inclusive angle

Hi Spencer

Many thanks for your comment - and a great insight into the importance of looking at the needs of your customers when designing your customer service approach. I always like to challenge customer service approaches by asking "what if" - and here's why...

A reasonable start to customer service is to ask "how would I feel if I was the customer". This is good because you actively put yourself in the customer's shoes, and change your perspective on the situation. However, it is only a start. That's because you are only one type of customer - yourself! I'm not deaf, so it would be very easy for me to miss the implications of my customer service design for deaf people, for example.

As individuals, we all have individual customer service needs and desires, and the smartest businesses will realise this and design their approach to be as flexible as possible, to include and delight everyone!

Now there's a challenge...!

Thanks again for your comment - very useful. Feel free to add "real" (not shortened) links if you wish.

OTHER READERS - I recommend taking a look at Spencer's link:

Kind regards, Simon.

gravatar Barry Dalton
February 22, 2011 - 20:01
Subject: Some other examples of low cost + quality service

I agre with you. Low cost and quality service/experience do not have to be mutually exclusive. Service and experience do not directly correlate to the amount of money thrown at the problem. We see this in many aspects of the economy, public policy, etc. Creativity, innovation and a bit of inginuity can go a long way. Companies should caution against using the "we are a price play therefore we can't compete on service" excuse.

Take lessons from some of these from which I've personally benefited from superior experiences

eBags - I buy the cheapest laptop bags because I beat the hell out of them. I usually buy 2 or 3 before I settle on the one I keep, and return the rest. I've never had a problem with returns, questions or credits

Costco - I've gotten better service in their electronics department than from another higher-end retailer (unnamed)

Target - I buy $10 jeans. Actually I can't even fathom what a $200 pair of jeans looks like. Target is another retailer to which I've returned countless items without a receipt and never ever been given a hard time. I get cash back, store credit, exchange.

Dunkin Donuts - I walk in. the owner knows exactly what I want before I order it. He remembers what goes in my coffee. and he serves me promptly in exchange for $1.97. At the other big coffee store, I see many people working behind the counter. And while the service isn't bad its no better than DD. Is it worth a 100% premium price on the cup of coffee? Not to me.

I'll come up with some more and come back


Reply to Barry Dalton
gravatar Simon Roskrow – North Yorkshire
June 20, 2011 - 15:03
Subject: Re: Some other examples of low cost + quality service

Hi Barry

Many thanks for your comment - and I'm glad we're in agreement! I think there is a both a real distinction between "product" and "service", and some important links.

I'm a fan of the electronics retailer Richer Sounds. I first used them years and years ago to buy my first ever hi-fi separates system - and it turned out to be the only one I ever bought. I recommend this company to anyone who asks, because I got great customer service and great products at a great price - the dream combination.

Recently, I went into a very high-end hi-fi retail store. Prices were enormous, the sales staff were, at best, unengaging, and, although the products may have been fantastic, I will never find out as I walked out empty handed.

You CAN offer great service, whether you're selling a hi-fi cable for 10 or a whole system for 10,000. There is no excuse!

Thanks again for your comment.

Kind regards, Simon.

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