It is day 2 of Customer Service Week. Today’s theme is understanding complaints and I have been saving this one up.
Getting down to London and back in one day is never an easy task. I don’t like staying away and so it means and early start and a late finish if I am to have any meaningful time in the place. That’s why I found myself at a quarter to six in the morning at Newcastle Central Station to catch the 5:59 down to the capital. I would normally check that everything was running OK before I leave the house but for some reason that morning I didn’t and when I got to the board the word cancelled shone out of the gloom.
That threw me completely. What was I supposed to do? My plans were geared around a tight travel schedule and I was already going to be late before I’d started. OK, the next train was only half an hour later but the reservations would be all over the place and no doubt it would be packed to the gunnels.
I decided to do what I always do in such situations and reached for my smart phone and Twitter.
@Virgin_TrainsEC what has happened to the 5:59 Newcastle to London?
It was more to vent my spleen rather than expecting an answer yet within a couple of minutes I had two replies:
@PhilJackman Hi Phil, I’m afraid this service is cancelled this morning because of trains not ending up where they should have done due >>
@PhilJackman yesterday’s disruption at Retford. You should use our 0630 departure from Newcastle. << ^SC
Wow! I was quite taken aback. Rather than sitting there spitting feathers the tweets completely diffused the situation for me. I now realised that the situation was something that Virgin could not have helped. They explained what the problem was and what I could do to get to London. The information was wrapped in an apology and here I find myself writing about how a quick response can repair an awkward situation.
I don’t know much about running a railway but I do know about customer service yet I could learn a thing or two from Virgin’s response. Thanks SC, whoever you are.