founder of naked leader
“How so calm?”
Was the question I asked Allison Dunn, Information & Customer Experience Manager at South West Trains.
No background needed – trains get delayed, signals fail and very sadly people go onto tracks.
When things go wrong, customers want communication. They want to know, above all else, how they are going to get to their destination, and if that destination is home after a hard day’s work, it takes on a new importance.
And customers – passengers – human beings – want answers, and get angry when they don’t.
You can see real interchanges next time something goes wrong, however the interchange between irate customer and @SW_Trains usually comes to this:
@Name: (Expletive) Thank you @SW_Trains!!! Stuck at Waterloo and (expletive) – you deserve to be renationalised.
@SW_Trains I am sorry @Name, a lightning strike has hit signals at Vauxhall. Please let me know where you need to get to and I will help you find an alternative route.
@Name: @SW_Trains I know it’s not your fault, but communication is – I am still (expletive) off. However any help getting to Woking would be appreciated.
@SW_Trains Thank you @Name, trains to Woking are starting from Clapham and you can catch the 572 from Waterloo to Clapham – your ticket is valid for travel on that bus.
@Name: @SW_Trains Oh, ok. Thanks for your help
@SW_Trains A pleasure – @Name hope you get home safely
So, my question to Allison, in full:
“With delays not of your making, irate customers and not knowing all the up to date information yourselves, how do you stay so calm, polite and helpful?”
“How so calm?”
I map her passionate, caring, and full of personality answer onto The Formula for Guaranteed Success:
- Know where we want to Go – Get our customers safely to their destination as fast as possible.
- Know where we are NOW – Know exactly what is going on, and when things will change (for this we must have very strong internal SW Trains relationships, especially within our team).
- Know what we have to DO, to get to where we want to GO – Be helpful, polite and focused on achieving our Outcome (also the most assured way to get people to choose to calm down).
- Do It! My team are free to be themselves and express their own personalities.
My biggest takeaway from Allison is that no matter how upset people, or another person, may be, I can always choose how I react. And that reaction will either make them more upset, or less.
As Allison puts it:
“If you can help people, then help them”
Thank you Allison
Share your positive customer service stories in the comments below.
With my love and best wishes