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POSTED ON 5-DEC-2013

Twice recently, I visited a new, business park in Belfast. It looks modern, bright and attractive as you drive in. The Property Management Company who run the park, provide an array of services for the businesses. These include cleaning, cafeteria and reception. All utility bills are bundled into a monthly rent that is cheap. Most of the companies are start-ups and are encouraged to move from their initial incubation unit to a larger office when they grow.  All sounds and looks great.

On my first visit, I managed to drive through an open, security barrier. Driving straight through, I did not pick up a ticket. On entering, the office, I was confronted by both Security Man and receptionist. Their procedure is that visitors get their ticket endorsed to avoid having to pay a parking fee. Nice gesture.

I was asked by Security Man for the ticket so as he could complete the endorsement. Of course, I failed the test as I had breached the security. Security Man was not happy and warned of my misdemeanour to the extent that I could be locked in. The punishment seemed somewhat excessive for a simple crime.  I did what was expected of me, bit my tongue, got embarrassed and turned to the receptionist for succour. She ignored me.  I excused myself and requested that she contact the client I was visiting. I shuffled off to the soft chairs, picked up one of the business magazines to hide my face and quietly fumed.

On my second visit, I was looking forward to meeting Security Man again. I was prepared for the second round where I would assert myself and confront his critical behaviour.  Naturally, he was not there. The reception desk was piled high with packages and boxes, it was difficult to see who was behind the counter.

There was however another receptionist and another man, not of the Security Man genus. They were deeply involved in discussion about somebody else. As they were discussing this person, an e-mail arrived from the third party. Both gazed at the screen to read the mail, made some comments about his character and continued to talk.

This conversation took about two minutes.  I stood there thinking that this could not be happening again!  I had just driven from Dublin; it was one of those wet, miserable mornings that always remind me of growing up in Belfast. We never had sunshine; maybe that was the problem.  All I needed was; ‘Hello, the weather is awful. Who are you visiting? The cafeteria is open. Would you like a cup of coffee, while I ring for Gavin.’  Customer Service is not difficult, most of it we are taught at home, there it’s called manners. It’s the way, I treat people and it’s the way I expect to be treated.

On this second occasion, I gave some feedback to Gavin and he repeated a similar incident with Security Man. He told me that he had confronted him and he had been performing much better. I suggested that he do the same with the receptionist.
Gavin is a great guy with a new business that is growing quickly. His own team is professional and committed to their Customers. They are a pleasure to do business with.

Their hard work and effort can be derailed by a Moment of Misery at the reception. She is not one of his team but she is part of the service provided by her company.  Customer Service needs to be revitalised regularly, readdressing common sense standards is critical. Simple meeting and greeting is easy and it gives the visitor the Cead mile failte, they deserve, especially when it’s wet.

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