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Service, service service!

July 16, 2009

Well my girls discovered a new time in their lives today, and were amazed that there are actually two 5 o’clocks in one day…hehe… Our flight from Bristol to Paris was fairly uneventful and typical, as Charles De Gaulle Airport lived up to my expectations. I like travel and I like the French but this airport seems to have a knack for confusing, frustrating and offending passengers on a regular basis. Indifferent French service is sometimes described as ‘Gallic Charm’ and I’m certainly not saying all French service workers are the same, but the airport did remind me of the British in the 1970’s and 80’s. It made me wonder why we so often lose sight of the service user when we become the service provider.

From my recent experiences in Public Services and other large organisations, I found staff may spend hours filling in paperwork and ticking boxes to cover their backs with no-one necessarily assessing what they’re doing or checking that the paperwork remains relevant. Who’s constantly checking what changes need to occur so that customers receive an increased level of service, or a ‘quality’ service? Who follows things up afterwards when bad service is given and there is a a breakdown in the system for the customer? Some workers don’t even have to report to anyone who will challenge in the slightest their procedures as long as they are filing their regular reports.

I understand how this culture of multiple managers develops and this for me is the biggest challenge in the 21st Century. I think if chief executives get to the level where it is easier to manage via systems, and all that’s discussed is the next IT upgrade or such like, then other managers will behave in a similar way, and then who can blame the staff for going emotional AWOL when it comes to solving problems?

Instead, chief executives and companies surround themselves with a safe set of managers who tell them exactly what they want to hear. Increasingly, the man (or woman…but I’m not sure there are nearly enough…) at the top of the tree is distanced from the reality of leading frontline staff and people, and delivering to customers.

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