Sunday, 5 August 2012

Keeping the customer serviced

My dentist is a lovely guy.  He looks a bit like Des Lynham, always has a calming word and every visit is a physically painless experience.  He is however now way too expensive to keep using, so I need to register with a NHS dentist.  

Being basically an idle bastard, I went to the practice literally around the corner from our house.  It's in a Victorian end of terrace house that's little more than a two up two down.  Reception is in what would normally be the front room and I was greeted by the receptionist, a girl in, I would say her early 20s.  I asked if they were taking new NHS patients and she said yes but the dentist was about to go on holiday for three weeks so he wouldn't be able to see me for a while.  I said that there was no rush and asked if I could get registered in the meantime.  Without leaving her chair, she twisted 90 degrees to her right, took a form from a letter rack and passed it to me saying "There you are, all done for you today."

I don't know where to look when people talk to me like that.  I really value good customer service and make a point of thanking people when they're helpful or do more than they strictly needed to.  But this type of customer service Newspeak just makes me cross. It adds nothing but is designed to give the appearance of having been super helpful.  I'm genuinely worried that people in service industries believe this is how customers want to be spoken to. 

There are of course many and various variants on this theme: the train announcements welcoming us onboard YOUR SouthEast train service to London Charing Cross; the call centre staff with their carefully scripted greetings, and the greeters at your local supermarket asking how you are and whether you found everything you were looking for today.  I'm sure you can think of others...