A few years ago I found myself enjoying a rather smart meal on a cruise ship, whilst being thoroughly patronised by the Marketing Director of a UK Train Operating Company.
I had made the mistake of asking him if he was interested in listening to his customers to get a better understanding of their experience, and how they felt about his service.
35 minutes of bombastic lecturing on “I wrote the book on customer satisfaction”, “we have our finger on the pulse” and even “pop down and see us, and I’ll show you how it is done” rather put me off my profiteroles; resulting in me burning my tongue on the coffee in my haste to beat a retreat.
We did follow up with his company, and fared no better in a more formal business meeting. We had nothing to offer, because they were certain that they were leading the field on customer experience.
Which makes the recent news stories about the Which? Passenger Survey very interesting reading as they state that half of all rail firms have low satisfaction levels.
Digging deeper, (specifically into the Spring 2014 National Passenger Survey), I was encouraged to see that my Marketing Director’s company was scaling the dizzy heights of passenger satisfaction – languishing in the bottom 3 and showing no signs of improvement in the whole of the last year (they had actually got slightly worse!).
I don’t like being smug...but I did notice another Train Operating Company, East Coast Trains, who show one of the biggest and most consistent improvements in passenger satisfaction, placing firmly in the Top 10 overall.
I noticed them because a few years ago when I asked them the same question, they said “yes”, and then went on to implement a live, real-time customer feedback and communications solution that listens to their passengers and fixes problems fast (read their case study here).
Customers like being listened to, and technology makes it fast and cost effective. There simply is no excuse for companies any more.
I wonder if my Marketing Director had a chapter on that in his book...
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