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The Inaugural Lethbridge Customer Service Awards

30 November 2022

Whilst I enjoy pointing out the flaws in people, processes and organisations, never let it be said that I don’t heap praise on the good things I experience too!  Last month, I stupidly slept through my Ocado weekly delivery, my phone on silent so I didn’t hear the ‘Ring’ doorbell or the driver’s phone calls.  Ocado were so wonderful about it, and I’ll explain how in a moment, that it prompted me to award them a Customer Service Award on Twitter.  A wave of relief washed over me as I was then suddenly struck by a Christmas blog idea – lo and behold, I present to you, the Inaugural Lethbridge Customer Service Awards!

Unlike other award ceremonies, in order to be successful, you don’t have to nominate yourself, write a tedious award nomination application or pay for your place at an awards dinner!  All you have to do is prioritize customer service above all things and recognise that a relentless pursuit of customer value ultimately leads to customer loyalty, growth and long-lasting success!

We Understand! We are Humans too! Award

Winner: Ocado

Picture the scene. Arising at approximately 07:25 am, turning over and glancing at my phone, to see a variety of notifications alerting me to missed calls and Ocado pings.  Panic sets in.  I jump up and look out of the window, no ‘David in the Plum van’ in sight. I immediately ring the phone number that had been ringing me – nothing. I then went into the Ocado app to find the contact number to attempt to ring the Contact Centre. With little trouble (rare) I found a telephone number where I could talk to a real human being to explain my predicament and hopefully track David down in a neighbouring street and accost him for the release of my shopping order.

After very little interface with an annoying IVR system, I soon spoke to a lovely lady who was immediately sympathetic to my plight. “Easy done duck” (I have added the Stoke on Trent accent to help to provide added texture and warmth). She was lovely. Alas, David was already back on the M4. I had two options. He could bring my shopping back at 11am with his next drop off or we could reschedule for later that evening but I’d have to forgo my frozen items because they would, by that time, be very much unfrozen.

I thought of those frozen items, all alone and slowly fading away, and chose the 11am option, which was indeed, successfully then delivered.

Why was this experience award worthy? Well I was expecting ‘computer says no, ‘yourname’snotdownyou’renotcomingin’, you weren’t there when you said you were going to be SO UNLUCKY,  80 quid down the drain NIGHTMARE!’ but instead I was met with warmth, compassion and most importantly, a solution.

The experience was so good that it has made me chalk up the great Christmas 2021 Ocado promising me a free M&S sparkly tangerine gin AND THEN RUNNING OUT OF THEM TRAVESTY to the distant annals of long forgotten disappointments.

Ever Changing Innovative Muffins Award

Winner: Costa

I have previously maligned Costa for their rewards system not being accessible to the technologically disadvantaged but as I sit in this Costa in Bath, finishing my blog, I do feel like they are a worthy Lethbridge Customer Service award winner.  Every time I go in one they’ve mixed up the muffins! After Eight muffins, Chocolate Orange muffins… such muffin innovation is worthy of an award alone!  In addition, they’ve partnered with M&S to bring delicious sandwiches too (I am always appreciative of a company mash up), Christmas drinks, Christmas sandwiches, they constantly try new things and offer little glimmers of surprise when let’s face it, you’re usually just after the same medium skinny latte that you always have.  PLUS they have plugs on the wall that aren’t hidden and are available for people to use!  They are consistent and reliable yet at the same time, never static.  That’s no mean feat. They are always PACKED and there’s a reason for that.  Sigh, I love seeing companies thrive ❤ .. and yes… they are thriving Coca-Cola credits Costa Coffee as third quarter sales rise – World Coffee Portal

Believing your Customers and Trusting them Award

Winner: Next

In more tales of First World Problems, I bought some lovely TOMS sandals after reading about them when investigating B Corps …TOMS have a clear purpose, donate to charity, vegan etc.  As I browsed, the sandals stared into my soul. Although they were pricey I don’t mind investing in such items because they are an ethically sound company plus .. (real reason) I really wanted those shoes.  I could tell that they were going to be keepers, invaluable with numerous different outfits, providing me with a bit of heel whilst also being mega comfortable. I couldn’t find them in my size on the TOMS website but my innate detective skills and research capability reminded me that if something you want runs out, start trawling through department store distributors. I found them in Next, ordered, they arrived, I fell in love. If truth be told they were slightly too small, but I wanted them so much I just thought I’d have to wear them in a bit.

I think I wore them 3 times when the absolute worst thing possible happened, they broke.  Luckily on my way home, who knows what my fate would have been had it happened at the beginning of my day. “What?!?! These were mega expensive!” As I cast the broken TOMS aside, I reached for my laptop and started to search through my emails and orders. They weren’t that old… surely I could get a refund or replacement. Plus pretty sure I remembered TOMS having an amazing returns policy.

Yes, only 3 months old. I already knew that Next was amazing at customer service after the purchase of a sofa that didn’t fit through the door (taken back without question) and also GIFTING me a red dress for some kind of reason that I can’t fully remember.  At the time I was single and the thought of a random faceless bloke (although granted, an employee of Next’s Customer Service team) empathizing with me to the extent that he ‘Pretty Woman style’ gifted me a lovely red dress in a box COMPLETE WITH LAYERED TISSUE PAPER, made me almost want to marry him.

Anyway, back to the Toms, I set about finding a Next customer contact number. Easy. Ring, speak to a human, again a lovely one.  I explained my TOMS sandal predicament, she sympathized and said that she’d send me some new ones in the post, and TO SIMPLY GIVE THE BROKEN ONES BACK TO THE DELIVERY PERSON. WHAT CONVENIENCE!! Buoyed by this, I pushed my luck, “Erm actually, they were always a bit snug, can I have the next size up please?” CERTAINLY.  THE NEXT DAY my beautiful new TOMS replacements arrived, in a size which actually fit my giant feet. They TRUSTED ME AND SENT ME THE SHOES BEFORE THEY HAD EVEN SEEN THE DAMAGE! This is almost witchcraft.

So there we have it, a merry Christmassy jaunt through the purchasing power of my privileged middle-class life. As ever though, there are so many lessons that we can learn from these experiences, that can be of real benefit to all kinds of service companies. All of these award winning companies know what their customers want and need, and most importantly, they keep striving to do better. In exchange for their efforts, they’ll have my loyalty (until such a time as they really disappoint me of course!!!  Oh how delicate we consumers are!)