I've been heartened recently by tales of remarkable customer service that have restored my faith in human nature.
One of my mates - a hopeless non-techie (as befits those of us of a Certain Age) - had difficulty syncing (I think this is the word) his new iPhone 3G with his laptop.
Realising that everything in his life was stored on his phone, he called the Apple Support Line and their friendly, attentive and knowledgeable people based in Ireland patiently took him took him through what he had to do to sync (rather than sink!) his data.
They called when they said they would. They checked back to see everything was OK. They asked for feedback on the service they provided as part of their commitment to continuous improvement. He's now backed up and can sync away. Truly amazing.
It reminds me just how dependent we are on technology - our PDAs, laptops, hard drives, mobiles, etc. The subject of a future blog I think!
Another mate went into London Bridge station to put some credit onto his Oyster card. He encountered a friendly, smiling assistant (this in itself remarkable, of course) called Dolly who spotted that he had not "registered" his Oyster.
Well, needless to say he had no clue what she was talking about, but she explained patiently why it was important to do so (it's in case the poor old gimmer loses it) and gave him the registration form.
When he looked a bit blurry, she offered to register the card for him - so he stood aside, filled out the form, handed it back to the gorgeous Dolly and she registered him on the system.
She hugely exceeded his expectations and was friendly and helpful and gave him a glad heart. The thought of it still makes him smile.
I often remark on the luminous brilliance of the great Peter Hendy, the London Transport Commissioner. In my view the bloke is a saint and has even managed to get surveyors to use London buses (credit crisis may have had something to do with it too I guess).
Peter has got a mixed bag of folk around him but that Dolly at London Bridge is a true credit to him!
We've become so used to mediocre and sub-standard service today that examples like this really stand out. Yet we're all customers. Why are we so accepting of bad service?
I've seen lots of customer service programmes that are surrounded by bureaucracy and administration. They miss the point. It's about understanding what the customer expects and delivering that in a friendly and effortless way. If there's an opportunity to go further - GRAB IT!
As we move into the "New World" we need to start with our customers and work back from there. It's pretty simple really (btw, I have banned the use of the phrase "it's not rocket science"): if you start with your customer, you always arrive at the right answer.