Thursday, December 06, 2007

Another Ditched Helicopter Award

Here's one from my friend Alan Stevens, the Media Coach:
"I took advantage of Air Canada's online check-in system recently. Being well over six feet tall, I need the leg room provided in the over-wing exit seats. Before I checked in, I phoned the Air Canada office and asked what rows to pick. "18 and 19", I was told, by a very nice man who said he was also very tall, and always booked into those rows at online check-in. So, I went online, only to find that rows 18 and 19 were not available. I rang Air Canada again, and was told this time "You can't book those rows online". "But" I protested "the last time I rang, I was told it was possible". "You can't have been told that" came the reply "and you can't have spoken to anyone here". So there you go. Customer Service nil, Air Canada one."
Definately a Ditched Helicopter Award for Air Canada this one!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Helicopter Service Awards

I'm worried about the Intercontinental Hotel group. The feeling you get these days when you stay in one of their hotels, frankly, is that they're trying everything to rip you off. For example I find in most hotels these days they provide at least one free bottle of water each day. Not in the Intercontinental -- I recently stayed at their Singapore hotel where they wanted to charge you the equivalent of £3 ($6) for a bottle!

As always it is the little things that make the difference -- no free newspaper for example, or a very poor selection of fruit at breakfast.

We have lots of choice in hotels these days -- with outstanding levels of service being set by some that the others simply have to live up to.

Intercontinental Hotels therefore get a ditched Helicopter award.

Now how about this example of putting the customer firmly in his place!

This comes from a friend of mine, Kevin Coulthard, who visited the Selfridges store in Manchester and went to the Illy coffee bar for a coffee and cake.

I'll let him continue: " My wife and I looked at the cakes on display in the counter next to the coffee bar and asked for two cakes, though I cannot remember what exactly they were. There were at least six types of cake on display.

The conversation went along the lines of the following with the names of the real cakes changed for the sake of anonymity

Me – 2 cappuccinos and two chocolate cakes please
Staff - I am sorry you cannot have those cakes only banana or apple
Me – Why? When the cakes I want are next to the ones you want to sell me
Staff – the others are selling fast and we need to sell banana and apple
Me – So you will go the cake counter and pick up apple and banana cakes but not chocolate
Staff – Yes because I can only sell apple and banana cakes
Me - So as the customer I cannot have what I want
Staff – No. Sorry.
Me – I will go elsewhere then
Staff – You can have a chocolate cake to take out
Me – But I cannot buy a chocolate cake to take out and eat it here with a coffee
Staff – No

At this point I was completely demoralised and went to M&S"

I think that's got to deserve a ditched helicopter award for Selfridges!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Some Airline Helicopter Awards

British Airways

I've been a massive supporter of British Airways over the years and for some time they really got it right and were the best in the business. However I've had it with them now - my wife and I had a flight from Singapore where the cabin staff were surely, the food inedible and they couldn't turn the temperature of the plane down. It's not good enough and British Airways there fore receive a Ditched Helicopter Award for lousy service.

Singapore Airlines
Emirates Airlines

Singapore Airlines and Emirates Airlines on the other hand are simply the best. I have many excellent example of outstanding service - including recently when my SQ flight developed a fault and we had a plane change.
So both of them get The Golden Helicopter Award for outstanding Service.

More Helicopter Service Awards

I seem recently to have been experiencing the two extremes - and whilst it's the bad service that sticks in your mind the longest, let me share with you two establishments that leave you with the warm glow of having had a wonderful experience.

Chris, my wife, and I have fallen in love with The Scilly Islands - which for those who don't know, are about 30 miles into the Atlantic off the South West tip of England. We fly there by helicopter (how else!) and we stay the night before the flight in the lovely town of Penzance in Cornwall.

We have discovered a small hotel there, The Camilla House, which is exceptional. Susan and Simon Chapman gave up the rat race in London and moved to Penzance four years ago and they have just finished refurbishing the hotel up to their very high standards. It's very special.

So A Golden Helicopter Award goes to the Camilla House.

On a similar vein I've now stayed at two Shire Hotels in the UK- indeed we ran a recent Professional Speakers Association National Meeting at their Leeds hotel and it's a similar story of service. The staff simply cannot do enough for you, the facilities are excellent .and the food exceptional - and how many hotel chains can you say that about?

A Golden Helicopter Award then to Shire Hotels also.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Helicopter Service Awards

I find myself increasingly putting the service I receive from organisations into one of two categories either "outstanding" or "lousy" - there doesn't seem to be just 'average' any more.
I've decided, therefore, to introduce and list in my newsletter my new "Golden Helicopter" outstanding service awards and "Ditched Helicopter" lousy service awards

Here on the blog I'm going to share with you the reasons behind each one!Please feel free to comment and to add your own recommendations for awards.

Alfa Romeo

I'm looking at buying a new car - but the experience of trying to do so is simply unbelievable!

I was interested in trying an Alfa Romeo so I went on their website, clicked the "nearest dealer" button and was taken to the Perrys of Aylesbury website. Here I was pleased to find I could book a test drive and did so for 4 p.m. the following Wednesday.

On that Wednesday my wife and I drove the 18 miles to Perry's and walked in to be met by the Sales Manager.
"What can I do for you" he asked
"I've booked a test drive for this afternoon" I replied
"What here?" He responded
"Yes" I said "at 4 p.m."
"give me a minute" he responded and walked away.

A salesman then appeared whose first words were:
"I'm not from here, I'm from next door but I'll try and answer any questions you have."
"am I right there is not a diesel automatic option on the Brera?" I enquired
"I'm sure there is -- but I'll check " he responded and went off
he returned "no -- you're right there isn't that option"
the Sales Manager then reappeared with the words
"we don't have any test cars here but I've talked to Amersham and they have one" (note Amersham is 16 miles away)
The salesman then enquired "is anything else we can do for you?"
"Yes" I replied "I would very much like you to try and sell me a car!"
believe it or not the response from both was complete silence!
My wife and I walked out without another word.

How can a company get it so wrong?
Alfa Romeo are therefore the first recipients of the Ditched Helicopter lousy service award.


I then decided to look at the Audi TT car and went onto their website. In this case you could request a test drive of a specific model directly from the main website and this I did. I immediately got an e-mail confirming receipt and advising me that someone would contact me within 24 hours to tell me where and when I could drive the specific model I had requested. Great German efficiency!

However.............. four days later I had heard nothing. I therefore telephoned Audi head office and explained the situation and was told "you should have heard" to which I responded "but I haven't" to which he said "but you should have done".

"can I please take your details, Sir, and I will arrange it directly?"
"I've already spent a long time completing your forms when I applied through the website." I responded
"sorry sir we don't have access to that database - I'll have to go through it again"
So we spend some time doing that and I explained that I wished to test drive an Audi TT,2 litre automatic and that I would travel to anywhere in the country if necessary. She assured me that someone would ring me within 24 hours to fix it up.

One day later I had a telephone call from Oxford Audi:
"I understand you wish to test drive and Audi TT 2litre" he said.
"Yes" I said
"we don't have one" he said "we only have the larger engine -- it's extremely difficult to get hold of Audi demonstrators these days"
"I don't understand why you've rang me" I said "since I made it very clear that I only wish to test the specific model that I'm thinking of buying"
"I only rang you because head office told me to" he replied.

The next day Audi head office rang me back saying that they understood that Oxford Audi had been unable to help me. I replied that as I had made clear I wished to drive the specific model that I was thinking of buying and that I would travel anywhere in the country to do so.
"Leave it with me" she said.

Two days later I happened to be driving through Reading - relatively close to my home - and noticed an Audi dealer. I called in and was met salesman Raj Charan who single-handedly saved Audi and ensured that I would end up buying an Audi car. He was courteous, interested and happy to explain all about the vehicle. His response to my question "I'd like I test drive a TT 2 litre automatic, if that's possible" was
"of course I can have one here for Thursday if that's okay, what time would you like me to fix it for?"
"4 p.m. please -- and my wife will join me"
"that's fine" he said "you can have the vehicle for 45 minutes if that's okay and whilst you're doing that I'll look your existing car over so I can give you a trade-in value when you and your wife return"

At that moment my mobile phone rang and it was the lady from Audi head office
"I've found you a car to test drive, but the nearest to you is in Salisbury - 80 miles away"
"no it isn't" I replied "I'm in Reading Audi at the moment and they've arranged a test drive for me here this week"

"Oh - (silence) - good - you're satisfied then"

As a result of this experience I am going to make two awards:
Firstly,just like Alfa Romeo, Audi get a Ditched Helicopter award for their complete inability to have a joined up operation that "walks the talk".

The second award however is a our very first Golden Helicopter award for outstanding service and it goes to the Audi Reading salesman, Raj Charan, because he alone got Audi out of the mess they had created and got them an order. He represents everything good that you should experience when dealing with the company as a prospective customer.
Well Done Raj!

There's a postscript to the Audi story. Two weeks later I was telephoned by a marketing company working on behalf of Audi asking me to rate my experience of seeking a test drive. I took them through the whole story to which they responded "it happens all the time - you wouldn't believe the stories we hear"!!!

About Me

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Roger Harrop, The CEO Expert, has spent over 25 years leading international business at the highest level, ultimately a plc, putting him in a unique position to deal with contemporary business challenges. He is ranked in the top 10 of Management and Strategy Speakers worldwide by Speaker Wiki and twice voted by the members of The Academy for Chief Executives 'Speaker of the Year' He is an, Oxford, UK based, international motivational business growth speaker who inspires and entertains his audiences with his acclaimed Staying in the Helicopter® programmess. Over 20000 CEOs, business leaders in 40 countries have achieved transformational change through his thought provoking and entertaining talks laced with real-life stories, anecdotes and humour. Roger is an author, accredited SME business advisor, mentor, and independent director and has run businesses for major multi-national corporations. He is a Past-President of The Professional Speakers Association, a former Vice-President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and a Liveryman with The Worshipful Company of Marketers.