Are you really going the extra mile?

Fuel Blog imageThere are some phrases that are just plain annoying. The one that springs to mind today is “going the extra mile.” And whilst there are people that do just that, the majority of “extra mile self-congratulators” are people who are simply doing what they are paid to do and nothing more!

A prime example of rewarding people for doing the job they are paid to do is the New Year Honours List. This staggering display of smugness is where politicians, actors, professional sports people and even GP’s receive special commendation, whilst many unsung and genuine heroes are not even mentioned.

Why are we applauding mediocre service?

When I ask, did we stop demanding more from our staff, our suppliers and even those in the public eye? And why are we so content to be complacent and applaud mediocre service when we should be out there insisting that everyone really does go that real “extra mile” for us?

To illustrate this point, I want to explain my recent train journey. I bought return tickets online. I collected the said tickets from my local train station. I made the train journey that I bought the tickets for, and as far as I was concerned that was the end of the transaction. How wrong I was. What followed days and even weeks later is what I can only describe as CSO – Customer Service Overload.

Communications overload!

It started with an email asking for feedback on my train experience in order to clarify whether they had exceeded my expectations. This included everything from the cleanliness of the station and its general ambience, to the clarity of the announcements and the quality of the food and drink. Needless to say I ignored the email request. Days later and a text appeared telling me that I hadn’t completed my feedback and included a link to a website page so that I could do it right now or certainly before hell froze over. Once again I managed to find a million and one things to do instead.

Just doing your job!

So what’s my beef then? Well I went on a train to and from a meeting. It was ok but that was it. I don’t see how rating food, ambience and an ability to hear a station announcer qualify the company as exceptional. Things would have been different had their feedback questionnaire made reference to the absence of car parking at the station, the extortionate cost of the ticket or the general lack of adherence to the promised timetable. On these points I would have been more than keen to share my views. You see as a train provider at my preferred station at a designated time, their only obligation is to provide a train that’s going where I expect it to go. I don’t want or need anything else. And I certainly won’t be congratulating you for the other things in which I simply have no interest.

Gush of adjectives!

It’s the same when my car was serviced last week. After some cross and upselling when I dropped the keys off, to the customer survey that appeared later the next day, I felt under pressure to lie about what really was their job. I paid them to service my car, they serviced my car. What more is there to this simple business transaction that I’m missing? Now if you’d washed and cleaned my car whilst it was being serviced or filled it to the brim with petrol for me – then I might have thought your company worthy of a gush of adjectives. I may even have gone that “extra mile” myself and told other people about my amazing experience! As it was, I feel quite justified in not completing your poxy questionnaire and of course keeping fairly quiet about the whole car service thing.

Realistic and honest

So to all you business owners out there. Watch what you’re saying. Don’t overpromise and under deliver and certainly don’t bombard people with requests for feedback when all you’ve done is something so simple that an amoeba could do it whilst sleeping. Be realistic and be honest and when you want your customers to be impressed, make sure that you have something impressive to offer them. For marketing that adds value and generates good feeling amongst your customers, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email