This time of the year is generally known as ‘silly season’ by journalists .... a slow time for hard news so the sillier stories and the good news stories get more airtime and column inches.  This week Cilla’s funeral (sad not silly) and the stolen stuffed wolf got space they’d never have been afforded otherwise.  I’m sticking with the silly season ethos this week – giving space to good customer service stories. 

We have fleas! Big cat is suffering badly – an allergic reaction it seems. Slightly smaller less overweight cat is giving him a wide berth and gloating that they’re not bothering him. They’re giving me the collywobbles and I feel so sorry for big boy who just can’t stop scratching despite all the medication and keeps looking at me saying ‘make me better’. In terms of customer service the vet and his assistants have been wonderful. The key is empathy – they feel for the animals and for the poor besotted, perplexed owners who should have been issued a pet owners’ manual before being allowed to take the creatures home. And with the empathy comes clear factual information and instruction. It works even if the sugar coated pills prescribed don’t. 

Then the flea spray man cometh. Within two hours of being hailed by him indoors he was there and an hour and a half later he’d sprayed the whole house against the pesky hard crusted invaders. What more could you ask than that – apart from the 1 year guarantee and the plain clothes van so that the neighbours remained in blissful ignorance of our plight! 

And  my lovely new rugs arrived from somewhere north of the Arctic circle and I was kept informed of every stage of their journey from warehouse to home. I’m a delighted returning customer if ever I recover from the flea bills. 

There were the usual tedious - lack of - customer service experiences to deal with. Suffice to say that there were (according to one rail company mobile app) no trains scheduled to depart Gatwick Airport station after 8pm last night; several attempts had to be made to book various travel arrangements because a particular website kept doing silly things; and the usual dreary round of utility companies’ annoying little online habits.  

I’ve got used to the poor customer service. I expect it. One day I’ll be surprised and pleased but really I’ve just given up complaining (apart from to you). I’ve decided good service is all about great communication. Even if there’s bad news if it’s presented with empathy, information and a workable plan, I’m happy. Knowing where my order is and when it will arrive is brilliant and a man who can and does turn up almost immediately to sort out one of life’s disasters tops the customer service bills with me. What’s not ticking my boxes is technologically driven services that can’t be relied on to give me the right information when I need it, or to process the information I give it. Until we get the kind of technology that can do empathy and communicate clearly I’m always going to have gripes. Because I have good experiences to benchmark against the bar has got a whole lot higher!