I’m currently sitting on a train making my way back to Surrey to visit with friends. I’ve started taking the train because driving, when it involves the M25, is stressful and, on occasion, traumatic. The train is generally quicker and easier.
Except for today’s journey, it seemed. A fault on the original train meant a change and a 20 minute delay to our departure. Some passengers did shouting but, smug in the knowledge that even this was nothing compared to what the M25 could throw at me, I was cool as the proverbial cucumber. Well, up until the announcement that, as a result of the delays, the train would no longer be stopping at Stratford and I would therefore have to change at Ipswich. Being a Norwich City girl at heart this was disappointing, bordering on distressing, news.
So I took to Twitter. Everyone knows there is no better way to deal with frustrations than by a bit of social network based complaining. To really make my point I directed my Tweet to Greater Anglia themselves. What followed was a clear example of how easy it is to manage excellent customer service with very little effort.
First, a little bit of history; Abellio Greater Anglia have recently been under fire for their somewhat shoddy train service. Monday commuters have, on more that one occasion, found themselves put out by overrunning repairs and other service works. I know this because Look East reported on it and interviewed a lot of cross looking people, as well as various bigwigs who had to defend their decisions and publicly accept their mistakes. Consequently it would be easy to put this incident down as yet another example of why Abellio are crap. Something I was, in all honesty, working up to.
In response to my moan/query about whether or not to change at Ipswich or stay on to Liverpool Street, I received a Tweet from Greater Anglia asking where I was eventually heading, along with an apology for the change in service. I responded with my travel plans -Woking via Waterloo – and GK from Abellio proceeded to advise me as to the best course of action, which included checking the train times to give me the best route to take, along with arrival times along the way.
At the same time my sister, who is responsible for picking me up at the station when I eventually arrive, got involved. First we discussed how, even with the delay and potential inconvenience, train travel still beats motorway and then, as often happens with our Twitter conversations GK from Greater Anglia got dragged in. Kat reiterated the fact we have somewhere to be once I arrive, which may or may not be impacted by the delay, and also commended GK for responding swiftly to my plight. GK promised both of us that they’d do their best to help. Once my travel plan was sorted, they even replied to Kat to inform her of my arrival time so she knew when to expect me.
Now, I appreciate, in the case of delays it is good practice to ensure passengers reach their destinations without too much inconvenience and so a lot of what GK did was reasonable customer service and nothing especially special. What impressed me was first, that their Twitter account is manned by someone who is clearly of a proactive disposition and willing to assist where they can and second, the little extra of Tweeting my sister so she knew the plan as well.
Yes, Greater Anglia might be having a rough time of it at the moment and a lot of peple have greater cause for complaint that I would have, had things not worked out so well, but, say what you like, I am singularity impressed by their standard of customer service as I experienced it today.
Well done Greater Anglia, I, a little bit, adore you for your excellent customer service today, especially as not once has the M25 apologised for a single delay.
I’m now sitting at my sister’s having arrived at the expected time and only a little more ruffled than if I’d had a completely trouble free journey.