Monday, December 17

Five Go Mad at GWR

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Even a fictional character can have a bad customer experience

George was feeling a bit strange. Together with her cousins Dick, Julian and Anne – not forgetting her dog Timmy – The Famous Five, as they’d become known, had been revived for an advertising campaign by GWR so here they were, sitting on a brand-new electric train, heading down to Dorset for some jolly adventures, no doubt involving spies and some crude characterisations.

But being brought back in 2018 was making George feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t just that, as the most “woke” member of the Five, she was beginning to find her fellow adventurers’ attitudes more than distinctly outdated. It wasn’t that everyone was sitting on the train staring at their smartphones instead of chatting and sharing out bottles of ginger beer like in the good old days – George had got her own iPhone and was looking forward to discussing the manipulation of social media by foreign powers with her father the world-famous scientist later. No, it was that she was really actually, physically uncomfortable in her brand-new seat.

To take her mind off it, she flicked to the GWR page on Twitter. There was that rather annoying picture of the Five turning cartwheels on an imaginary picnic in an imaginary countryside with a brand new high-speed train running in the background. From some of the comments on Twitter it seemed like the train might be imaginary too, as quite a few seemed to be cancelled on a regular basis. That might explain why there were so many people crammed into her compartment.

Oh well, #GWRAdventures seemed like a jolly hashtag and, of course, was all part of a jolly campaign that The Famous Five were part of. Some customers didn’t seem to be keen on joining in the fun though, and a suggestion that they should tweet some lovely views seemed to produce pictures of broken seats, worn carpets and more overcrowding. Honestly, people could be really grumpy at times!

As she reflected further she realised her brand-new seat, whilst not broken, was really quite uncomfortable, even for an imaginary character in a children’s adventure story. Having become bored with the incessant trolling on Twitter she took look at Facebook. Goodness, people were even more grumpy on the GWR Facebook page than they were on Twitter! There was a lot of moaning about cancelled trains and, she was encouraged to read, some people found the new seats were jolly uncomfortable too.

Strangely though, there wasn’t much response from GWR to these complaints on either the Facebook page or the Twitter account. They seemed awfully keen to respond if someone said something nice but didn’t really engage with any negative comments at all other than to say that “people’s concerns would be recorded”. Really, thought George, that seemed rather impolite to say the least.

Although George liked being out of doors, solving crimes and rescuing her father from the clutches of evil villains, she thought if she ever grew up and had to settle down she’d like to be a head of customer complaints. You could really get things done if you listened to what the customers found most annoying, were honest with them about your shortcomings and then did something about it. That sounded like the kind of grown-up adventure she’d really enjoy.

But maybe for another company, not for GWR.

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About Author

Business strategist, consultant and change manager who helps companies become genuinely customer-centric. Nick delivers customer-driven business transformation projects and has worked across many industries including banking and finance, insurance, telecommunications, industrial and public sector. Has held senior roles with variety of blue chip names including BT, Royal Bank of Scotland, CSC and Sema Group. Currently Head of Delivery at NextTen Innovation Solutions

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