Monday, 19 January 2009

What's 'customer service'?

I am so continually astounded by the exceptional level of anti-customer-service I recieve in the UK, I just had to write about it. My latest anti-customer-service experience took place last week in my doctors offices.
I think, in general, in the UK, customer facing staff have not heard of the concept 'customer service' -in the same way that banks and hotels have not heard of 'refurbishment'. I have been to banks, post offices, the DHL courier head office, retail stores, rung call centres, and of course my doctors offices.
Not one person has ever given me the impression they care at all, or have even noticed me while I was being served by them. You could be wearing a miners helmet and a stocking on your head and they would'nt notice. Enough I say of those pesky helpful, caring, smiling, staff back home - over here you have the pleasure of being completely ignored and not be helped wherever you go! Never be asked anything by a retail assistant ever again! Wait 15 mins for help! When you do get seen too, enjoy unsatisfactory help. And you will never be looked at in the eye. Never. Now that's freedom, innit??

So anyway the other day I went to the doctors (A nice 10mins early). The receptionist waddled slowly and reluctantly to the counter, without looking up from the desk she said to me 'how can i help'. I said hello, looked at the lady, smiled, said my name and who i was there to see. She went tap tap on the computer, then said 'go upstairs and turn to your left'. Then without looking at me walked away and left me to wonder why I was being sent upstairs? am i going straight into the docters office? what was up there? I walk up and follow the corridoor of 1950's wooden doors and old carpet and come to - surprise -another reception area! OK I didnt know this existed, this must be where she was sending me. So again I said hello, looked at the lady, smiled, said my name and who i was there to see. She went tap tap on the computer, and said '2 minutes' and then continued to chat to a mother and her child at reception while I was left to ponder her ultra short and meaningless response. I went and sat down on a chair and waited 15mins while the receptionist carried on chatting and people came in and out. Eventually she said 'amanda jeffs'. I got up and looked at her for instructions. She said 'down the corridoor and too the left' and then answered the phone. Armed with my 3rd set of vague instructions, I walked slowly along the corridoor wondering where I was meant to be going. I thought, maybe the doctors name will be on the door, and I can find him that way. No. So I go back to reception and ask her 'sorry I dont know where I'm going, what room is it'. She said 'room number 6' so I went back round the corner and knocked on the door. The doctor yells 'come in'! To my relief I'm greeted by a rare british item- a jovial, happy, helpful, informative british person!! And a doctor at that! I left happy but with a belief that people dont respect free things - free giveaways, free fliers, free lunch- the NHS ... so I think you get what you pay for in terms of health too. These people arent being handed cash by us when we visit so they give as much as we give - £0. For all the benefit of free health care I think you get what you pay for and really respect something and care for something more when you pay for it. As with everything. For now I've got a nest egg savings account going so I can afford to visit the doctor when I get back. So until I return home, Ill enjoy the free doctors visits.

Cheers Blighty.

*Disclaimer - Now, dont come marauding about my house, I know plenty of british and most are funny and really cool people - it is for the purpose of this blog only choose to pick on the worst of them*

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The big freeze

For the last week or so we've had a cold snap in england. I've been thoroughly excited by this fact, of course no one else this - all my british colleagues are over it and my flatmates arent that excited about it. Like the morning it snowed and i took great pleasure from walking through every bit of snow i could find from home to work. and it was very exciting to see it snowing outside our window. my colleagues just chuckled. they're used to the trains stopping cos of snow, and it all turning to slush.

Last weekend it was -9 degrees in various parts of the country - has been -10 and -12 during the week in various parts. So last sat when it was about -9, the boys decided it was a perfect day to have a bbq in our garden.. sure?! so they set the fire going in the bbq and we all donned scarves and hats and jackets and went and sat around the bbq with our beers and ate lots of juicy steak and chicken... mm. eventually we started to feel the cold (it was freezing) and went inside.

Then on tuesday it snowed! there was a 5-10mm thickness of snow in golders green and out of town there was an inch or more. around the country, bodies of water everywhere froze over.

I went for a walk through hamstead heath today, and everything was white.. it snowed faintly last night and it has been lightly snowing on and off today, so the ground was white with ice and a layer of powder, and the trees were all dusted white. It was so pretty. The ponds are even more frozen than last week, if thats possible. Ducks walking along the ice were slipping and sometimes fell over. It was pretty funny. One small pond was completely frozen and people were walking all over it. The air had a quiet, almost misty feel to it. Hardly anyone was outside and the park was almost deathly quiet. I was outside for two hours, and it was -3 degrees. By the end I was freezing and could barely move or talk. It was exhilerating though!!! and just a little bit crazy considering i wasnt really properly dressed for the temperature. ahwell. apparantly the cold spell will be easing up shortly