Where do you get off? We can't have good customer service at rock-bottom prices

The modern customer demands good treatment - and doesn't want to pay for it

Share

I travel into work every day by bus or the Tube, and I am very pleased with the service I get. I rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for a train, or at a bus stop, and should there be a problem on the London Underground, I am always kept informed by a Tannoy announcement.

My only issue is with the regular proclamation that there is a “good service” on the Tube network. I cannot be alone in finding this confusing. I know we live in an age of adjectival inflation, but what exactly does “good” mean in this context? Does it mean excellent? That there isn't a problem anywhere? Or does it mean “not bad”? You might experience minor difficulties? Which one is it? Unimpeachable or adequate? I suppose it won't be long before we're told that the service is “amazing” or “awesome”. Then, at least we will know where we are.

We should be pleased that the concept of customer service is taken seriously, even on public transport. It wasn't always thus. The days when you could be stuck on a platform for what seemed like an eternity, or jammed in a stationary carriage, without any explanation are not that far in the past. Now, the most minor delay comes with an explanation.

The fact is that the modern consumer demands better treatment from any service supplier, and now we have a multiplicity of channels where we can give vent to our feelings. A waiter spills your soup? Quick, get on to TripAdvisor. A hotel doesn't come up to scratch? Write a blog. Or an airline loses your luggage? Take out an advert on Twitter and let the world know. But are we being unrealistic in our expectations? There's an element of realpolitik that's often missing in the rush to judgement.

The survey just undertaken by the consumer's champion Which? would tend to reinforce this view. Which? polled more than 3,000 people about customer satisfaction, asking them to rate brands in terms of their quality of service, specifically in the areas of knowledge, staff attitude and dealing with problems. And what do you know? The budget airline, Ryanair, came out worst. But Ryanair have never offered service. In fact, they have gone out of their way to explain that they are a “no frills” airline. They can get you to Prague and back for 12 quid, but they may not do it with a smile on their corporate face. That's simply not part of the offering.

Other brands in the bottom five for customer satisfaction were TK Maxx and 99p stores, both retail outlets which likewise make their appeal on price rather than quality. What are we like? We want things cheap and convenient. We don't care how much companies pay their staff. We have very little interest in where their products come from, or the conditions in which they are produced. But we, the mighty consumer, must be treated well. We demand courteous treatment, irrespective of the fact that we are paying next to nothing for the goods. Time for a reality check. Not every product can be like i: great value and great service. Have a good, or, better still, amazing weekend!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EBD Teacher - Food Technology Specialist

£100 - £181 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobTo plan and deliver all ...

Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Cover Supervisor

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education have cover su...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis  

Russell Brand's incoherent and scattergun approach to politics is Revolution as play

James Bloodworth
Tory whips have warned the Prime Minister that he could face a Tory revolt over the European arrest warrant  

A bizarre front for the Tories’ campaign against Europe

Nigel Morris
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker