Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We likie

How often do you think of complaining about poor service, but never actually get around to doing so?
I'm a bit like that, although occasionally I get cranky enough to fire off an email. I am never abusive or angry, I am not after any freebies (okay, well it would be nice, but doesn't happen).
About 80 per cent of the time, I get no reply, even if several emails/online forms are submitted.
But I really respect those people/companies/businesses who respond to feedback. And I try to give positive feedback where it's due also.
One of those companies is McDonalds. They market heavily towards kids, especially with their Happy Meal toys, and I can't tell you how many times we have ordered a meal, paid, and been given it before finding out the toy they've advertised has been sold out and replaced with something crappy they never got rid of first time around.
A few years ago, it had happened a little too often, and fed up with consoling inconsolable kids, I emailed them to complain.
To give them credit, McDonalds PR rang me the very next day, asked which toys the kids had missed out on. They express posted the toys to the kids straight away, which was awesome. A couple of vouchers would have been even better, since this had happened numerous times, but hey, they solved the complaint and that's something.
We've gotten more canny when it comes to ordering Happy Meals. (And yes I know I shouldn't buy the kids junk food, but sometimes it's nice for them to have a 'treat', and when you're travelling, it's often the best spot to give the kids a play, and a wee, and have a half-decent coffee.) Anyway, nowadays the kids usually ask to see the toys first, before ordering.
Then there's Wotif, where, although we've had some great experiences, there have been some horrific ones as well. Usually it is down to the hotel/resort not being truthful about the facilities or level of quality. The word 'luxury' is clearly subjective.
One holiday was so particularly bad, that I resorted to complaining to wotif, several times. I never got one single answer, even though my then husband spent thousands of dollars each year booking hotels through them for business and I was doing a lot of travel writing at the time. In recent times, I've also found that wotif doesn't always have the best deals, so check with the resort direct before you book. Then if your plans change, you can always transfer the booking to another date, rather than pay a cancellation fee.
The same with Qantas, who sent me some intelligible, impersonal reply obviously written by either someone who didn't speak or write English well or possibly a computer, to a valid complaint. It did not address my concerns in any way, and also announced that the problem had been dealt with, unless I got back to them. I tried once more, with no response, and by then it was too much bother to go back to them, and again I let it slide.
There are loads of places I could out, but I try to play nice, and in that spirit I would like to recognise those companies/businesses that do offer exceptional service.
Here are some of my favourites:

Muffin Break at Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre, Brisbane. I don't do muffins,(it's the weight thing), but they do a decent skim milk coffee, and Miss 7 loves their Mini-Muffin deals. $4.95 gets her three mini-muffins, a juice, colouring in page, and pencils. It's brilliant value and the staff are always very kind to her. She usually polishes off two mini-muffins and has one for morning tea the next day. Mr 9 loves their hot chocolates, and likes to order his own. Again, they are really sweet to him, and treat him like a 'big boy'.

The BP Service Station at Colinton, D'Aguilar Highway, Colinton. Fondly know as the Slush Puppy Stop, we usually stop here during one of our frequent visits to Wondai in the South Burnett, where my parents still live. The ladies there are always unfailingly lovely and helpful, and nothing is too much trouble. The loos are cleaned frequently and pass even Miss 7's tough public toilet standards. This is the only time I will buy the kids a Slush Puppy so they look forward to it as a treat on the long journey.

Yum Yum Peking Duck, Darra. Possibly Brisbane's best Peking Duck at reasonable prices. The surroundings aren't flash, but the food is excellent and the service is great if you're a regular. Staff always fuss over the kids and even remember their names, where they go to school, and favourite dishes and drinks.

Trampoline Gelato, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre - Unfortunately, a lot of their gelatos may contain traces of nuts and tree nuts, which makes it hard for Mr 9. But Miss 7 loves their ice-cream, especially the low-fat chocolate one.  Again, the staff are always friendly and offer tastes without having to be asked. Unlike some ice-cream chains, where uninterested staff sigh and grudgingly offer the tiniest tastes when asked. (People, I have kids ... we are obviously going to buy something if we've come this far ... I just want to make sure they will eat it, since it's pretty expensive!) Trampoline staff obviously get that, and I love that it's all made fresh on the spot. (I also can't believe the low-fat chocolate one is low-fat - it certainly tastes wickedly good).

Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue Airlines - Even though you pay for 'extras' like food and drink on the domestic Virgin, the friendly service is included on both versions of this airline. The price is usually less than Qantas, and the staff are always so friendly and helpful. On one flight, they bought our meals out first and a hostie walked the baby around the plane so we could eat. They've always had a stroller available for the journey from check-in to boarding - again, not so with Qantas. On another flight, staff took the kids down the back of the plane and painted their faces (having asked permission first). On yet another, they taught the kids dance steps and had a mock fashion parade. On occasions, we've had staff cracking jokes, singing or even dancing mid-flight.

And while I'm speaking of airlines, Air New Zealand is amazing. Not only is their marketing second to none - their Nothing To Hide campaign was pure genius - but the service and comfort is always good, even in economy. They are very effective on twitter also, with @flyairNZ responding quickly and efficiently to comments, praise, queries and all the rest. They also have an @airpointsfairy, who regularly sprinkles her fairy dust asking for and granting flight-related wishes.

The most memorable moment was on a flight with Air New Zealand from Auckland to Apia in Samoa. Miss 7 was chosen to be the Lolly Girl, and got to hand out lollies on descent to all the passengers. And after landing, we were all allowed into the cockpit for photos with the captain. Mr 9 was seriously impressed, and Miss 7 was given a huge bag of lollies to keep for her troubles.

So forget about the brickbats ... anyone else got any bouquets for excellent service?

Miss 7 (then 6) as the Lolly Girl on the flight to Samoa.


Motorbikes_Lady said...

I always complain about bad service to a company/person in charge as it's the only way if their worker(s) nedd to be retrained,have a word to, or worse fired.

Having said that I always also contact a company/person in charge and let them know if I have got great service so that way they know their worker(s) have been doing their job.

Do you also pay compliemnts?

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