Thought I would start the year in good 'grumpy old man' fashion with a bit of a rant (get it out of the way at the start of the year, but there is some good stuff at the end)
Well, here we are, January 5th, and on a train at 05.55 to London...Brrrrr, or will it be the 06.30 as the 05.55 breaks down 'from ice' at Doncaster? No, it's off this train and await the 07.30...Brrrrr, Ooops no, apparently the original train is not now 'broken by ice' so we can all get back onboard and continue the now delayed journey.....and this following the parking machines being broken, again, at Darlington station, with no staff around to advise, so a parking ticket awaits on Friday as there is no telephone number or e mail address to the station to let them know what has happened! Customer service at its best strikes again. And then, this is great, the ultimate cry of the 'incurable jobsworth' "Well, we can't help the weather dear" when a customer had the temerity to actually enquire about the situation and the audacity to ask about revised arrival times at Kings Cross! No, but perhaps you can plan for it..... Anyway, this bold customer was not about to be detered in her quest for information....I used to be like that but inumerable trite, idiotic and meaningless answers to many many questions have actually taught me that it is usually a total waste of time and breath and serves only to make you feel slightly better for asking follwed by the deflation of realisation that you haven't a snowball in hell's chance of getting anything sensible from often well meaning but uninformed staff. On a similar note the whole episode got me to thinking about service generally and how so much of what we have a right to expect as paying customers has been reduced to sounbite and spin over substance or so dumbed down that the definition of a good service is simply that 'they turn up' and that they do so (usually) on time! For those who do not travel much this is a trainline (Eastcoast) who charge £260 STANDARD return from Darlington to London and, for those foolish enough to blow the cost of a holiday in Europe on a first class trip, £365!!! And what do you get.....well, they usually turn up and more often than not get you there on time.
Someone, in their infinite wisdom (not the train staff who are usually great) has decided that they should have a chef on board the 05.55 but not offer a cooked breakfast service (in standard or first) - I mean why on earth would anyone leaving home at 5 am to get a train at 05.55 actually expect to be able to buy a breakfast on top of the mortgage sized fare they have already paid...beats me! Well, I could go on, but I think the rant is officially over. I'd love to say that this is an example of poor private sector customer service, but i think Eastcoast has been nationalised!
Anyway, onto more positive and uplifting things,.... I was reading a number of back tweets on one of the semi working trains and came across a number of useful articles and thoughts.
The first is a useful collection of material on cloud computing implementations from Maria Spinola http://www.cloudbook.net/maria-spinola . you can also follow Maria on Twitter (@mariaspinola )
Then there was some interesting reading in Philip Virog's Computer Weekly blog at : http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/when-it-meets-politics/2009/12/the-current-case-for-e-governm.html ,
an interesting blog article from Andrea DiMaio (Gartner) considering Gov 2.0 and how it should be 'driven': http://blogs.gartner.com/andrea_dimaio/2009/12/23/vendors-and-consultants-should-not-be-driving-government-2-0/
and finally a paper from the Institute of Customer Service (topical eh....?):
Late breaking news: the ice has broken things again......so it's off this train, again...to goodness knows where as they haven't told us yet....Great....