Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cross Country and Virgin - Chalk and Cheese

Regular readers of Simplicity Blog know that I travel almost all my business miles by rail.

I've often congratulated
rail providers publicly on this Blog for their excellent service. On Thursday I had an awful customer experience on a Cross Country train from Chesterfield to Birmingham New Street. I got so annoyed that I fired off an email on Friday to the rail public watchdog called "Passenger Focus - Putting Passengers First"

When service is excellent I like to tell the provider ... when it is absolutely crap we should also tell them.

This was what I wrote:

"I just wanted to vent my feelings.

Yesterday afternoon/evening I STOOD (along with probably 30 other passengers) for the entire journey on a Cross Country train from Chesterfield to Birmingham New Street. The announcements over the tannoy were awful – a very low volume and the announcer clearly had no idea that his diction is dreadful and indecipherable. No refreshments at all. It was - by a mile - the worst journey I’ve had on a train for five years and I travel about 5 times per week on average on business.

Contrast this with my onward journey with Virgin from Birmingham New Street to Coventry. I walked on to the train – a completely different ‘feel’ to everything about it. No problem finding a seat. The very friendly and reassuring voice of a pleasant train manager came over the tannoy to welcome me on board and tell me the details of the journey. I strolled along to the refreshments carriage – an absolute pleasure to be dealt with perfectly by a charming young lady who smiled a lot.

The contrast between Cross Country and Virgin was like chalk and cheese and I guess my question has to be is how the hell did Cross Country get that contract over Virgin – do the people who award the contract not take into account customers opinion?

Please do let me know what you can do with my feedback. For instance, can you forward this email to both Virgin and Cross Country on my behalf please?

Ironically enough I was returning from Chesterfield having just delivered a training session on customer care!!! – This journey gives me plenty of REAL data for future customer care workshops.

Hope to hear from you."

I will let you know if I hear anything!


Dave Wheeler said...


I learned many years ago that customer feedback, particularly when the service experience was a negative one, is an opportunity to make that person a customer for life if handled correctly. It will indeed be interesting to see if and how your feedback gets handled.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that Dave.

The first 'feedback' I've had is that my e-mail has been returned as 'undeliverable.' I sent it to the address given for customer feedback ... not a good start eh?.... and quite ironic don't you think?!

I've re-sent the email and will wait to see waht happens this time.