Wednesday, 28 September 2011

How good is your Customer Service?

This week has been a good example of customer service - brilliant and not!

Mum and I spent some time in London last Tuesday, the day after we'd seen Shayne Ward in Rock of Ages. I was still feeling good for the first time properly since I lost Clive! I then left Mum to get the train to Mansfield where I was meeting my friend and colleague Ann Girling for us to deliver one of our workshops on postnatal depression the next day.

Ann is in the final stages of completing her own book, 'Journey to Chocolate', which is fab! Her launch event is in Chester on the 11th November. Places are going fast - book your ticket here.

My first train was delayed which meant I missed my next two connections! At 8.30 pm I was tired and hungry on the platform at Nottingham and text Ann to say I'd get some sandwiches and for her to eat at our favourite Il Rosso in Mansfield without me! However, she was adamant that we deserved better and that she would still go to the restaurant and ask if they would keep the kitchen open until I arrived! She charmed the young man at Il Rosso and outstanding service was given as I had no sooner taken off my jacket than I had my delicious meal and glass of wine in front of me! Thank you Ann for insisting 'we were worth it' and thank you to Il Rosso for outstanding customer service. We shall be back!

  • How often to do you give up a reward so quickly?
  • What is the worst that can happen if you ask for help?
  • Are you appreciative of that help?

The staff at Lakeside Point Travelodge were just as friendly as previous stays so next morning we emerged fresh to deliver our training.  We both thoroughly enjoyed the day and received many favourable comments. It is so rewarding to know that we can share our knowledge and experiences for others affected by postnatal illness. Please see our details for the workshop here and pass to anyone of relevance!

Ann drove us back to Cheshire and after a quick meal with my family, reluctantly, returned to an empty house. I was okay until I picked up the post to find my phone bill STILL in Clive's name. Why can they charge the bill to my bank account but despite months now of calls, emails, letters do they STILL get it wrong? The first couple of months can be excused but 7 months? I had even stopped my direct debit payment last month and informed them I would pay as soon as the bill was in my name. I don't think that is unreasonable, do you? Since then I had four more in Clive's name. That night it was the final straw. It was bad enough still to come back to our home where he would have been waiting with a big grin, a huge hug and a cup of tea for me. Instead I crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the stairs and howled, clutching the letter - in his name. To a huge corporate company it is 'just a name' - to me it is a reminder of a heart that stopped and another that got broken. 'Why can't they get it right?' I howled.

I picked myself up eventually (because I simply HAVE to) and just fell into bed.

Next morning I set to sorting out my presentation for that evening. I was speaking for a fundraising event for The Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation and the Alzheimers' Society, being organised by Huddersfield Pendragon Ladies Circle.  As my Grandma suffered from Alzheimer's I was able to add that in! I sorted my slides and still felt upset and drained. What would I advise others? Feel good factor! I rang Paula at Genesis who squeezed me in and did my hair for me. Perked me up no end!

One of my friends joined me and we drove to the venue. I was also thrilled as my parents and sister came to hear me. I was actually nervous for them to be in the audience! I will let Rachael, the Chair, describe the evening:-

It was really good to meet you finally on Thursday evening but it was even better hearing your talk!

Can I just say a massive thank you for coming to Kirkheaton Cricket Club and hosting a talk for us in aid of our chosen charities this year the Joe Bingley Memorial Foundation and the Alzheimer's Society.

I know most people would run a mile if you suggested listening for an hour and half on post natal depression Alzheimer's and bereavement but through out your talk you could have heard a pin drop - this is no mean feat when you have around 70 women in one room, not a single shush or tut had to be given!

There are lots of words I could use to describe your talk frank, brave, passionate, caring but I think what you leave every single person with is hope and that feeling of count your blessings no matter what you have gone through if you search your soul and look hard enough out of every single negative there will always be a positive. It may not be apparent right there and then but positive thinking will eventually conquer all.

I have had so much positive feed back and my hope for this talk was that if we could just help one person feel better we would have really achieved some thing, well I think we have helped more than one and so for that I thank you and look forward to hearing you talk again, Elaine you are a true inspiration.

With much appreciation

Rachael Smith
Huddersfield Pendragon Ladies Circle

That brought a big lump to my throat. Here is a link to a blog written by Kate who also attended. Such messages inspire me to continue so thank you ladies. It was also lovely to be reconnected with a lady who I had flown to Rio de Janeiro on a Virgin Vie holiday we had achieved a number of years ago! The flowers I received as a thank you from Sue Bradley were stunning.

The next evening I was invited to attend the 10th birthday celebration for Countersales Ltd, held at the Kings Chinese restaurant.  David and his team knew Clive and it is through my links with him that we have set up the successful support group for postnatally depressed mothers in Morley, Leeds. It is a bit unnerving to attend events on your own after losing a loved one but great thought had gone into the seating plan and I was surrounded by warm, friendly people and had a wonderful evening with delicious food! Thank you for asking me and I look forward to the next 10 years! The waiter showed outstanding customer service as by the end of the evening he knew and used all of our names! There were 30 of us - wow!

On Saturday morning I had a huge backlog of emails to attend to and logged on to discover I had been disconnected from broadband and my phone for not paying the bill! Aaargh! Several hours later, more tears and upset I was finally reconnected late in the afternoon. I explained time and time again why they had not been paid. In the end they put it back on and generously said they would not charge me for the reconnection! Meanwhile I had not only lost the day for working but was upset yet again! My mood plummeted.

My whirlwind of a week continued that night as I had been invited by a friend of Clive's, Juli, who has now become one of mine, to a ball! The venue was the wonderful Midland hotel in Bradford and it was for the Emmaus charity, which provides support for homeless people. The speaker was the incredible Terry Waite CBE. I was at the same school as Gary, the manager at The Midland, and we had also reconnected last year at the hotel where Clive spoke at an event for Bradfordnowhere.  Juli and I stayed the night. What great rooms (and no, I am not saying that just because I know Gary!). They have been refurbished to a high standard and every touch was thought of. The staff here also have excellent customer service and standards.

I had decided to wear the red dress I wore as bridesmaid for my sister a few years ago and had never worn it since. The staircases at the Midland are designed for a swishy dress so it had to be worn! At lunchtime, amid my Broadband crisis, I took it out of its cover to discover it had stains down it! Oh no! The first dry cleaners shook their head - they could have it ready by a week on Tuesday! Would Cinderella get to the ball?

Next was Johnson's the cleaners in Wetherby. I explained my dilemma and by 3 p.m. they phoned me (on my mobile!) to say it was ready for collection! Wow! I was very impressed and grateful. Meanwhile I had text Paula and one of her girls fluffed my hair up for me! I drove to The Midland feeling a bit anxious as it is a place I associate with Clive. A place we had said we'd go to a ball. A place where 'he was'.

Once settled in my room Juli and I had a drink and I got ready! The poor experiences of customer services had been overcome by others at the opposite end of the scale. This was the result!

I was so pleased that most of the people at the table were ladies so I didn't feel the odd one out. The company was excellent and so was the service and meal. You have a team to be proud of Gary. Terry gave a very powerful talk about his experiences and I began to realise even more that I have suffered in order to help others. Terry's captivity was dreadful but he has inspired and helped so many others. Of course a girl can't resist a photo ..

The band were called Vinyl Act and along with some of my fellow diners we had a great boogie! I felt so good just to move to the music. I felt close to Clive in that stunning ballroom because the first time I had been there was to hear him speak there. I knew he loved to watch me dance and I felt he was doing that. I also had a 'vision' because I too will be speaking in that room at an event just for me to speak on Monday 7th November - details to follow. So please put the date in your diaries for a 4 pm start.

More photos are here

Clive always wore a black suit and white shirt when he spoke. I also loved him in his DJ.

Everywhere I looked there were men in black and white. Yet I didn't feel sad. In fact I felt so alive. So grateful that for a few years Clive Gott and I had shared an amazing life. He taught me so much. I won't let it go to waste.

Some songs just were made to make you smile - as my red dress swished around my ankles, in a stunning setting surrounded by kind people, perhaps Hope is beginning to creep back into my life.

Thank you to all those who contributed to that 'high'.

What can you do to improve your actions on others? And who knows, it may just make a big difference to them.

Elaine x

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