Customer care conundrum

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PKP IC staff leaflet

(Click image to read the full size leaflet.)

A friend has e-mailed a scanned copy of a PKP InterCity staff leaflet. He is clearly incensed. He heads his e-mail – Western standards, or lack of thinking, oppression and fear? He continues in much the same vein. I have never seen anything so absurd. Is anyone in charge of what on-board ticket inspectors are being forced to do?  …particularly worthy of note is Rule 13 and its subsidiary point that the customer is always right. Does this mean that customers can insult us and afterwards we will then have to thank them?

It is difficult to understand how this little leaflet can arouse such ire; nothing in it is particularly controversial. It sets out 16 basic principles such as, Remember that in every situation you are representing PKP InterCity and Keep your knowledge of railway regulations and current special offers and promotions up to date. The supposedly controversial rule 13 says, If a client is aggressive, try to help ease his temper, while the sub-clause, which so excited my correspondent, merely says, Never tell the client that he is mistaken, which is not the same thing at all as instructing staff that the customer is always right.

Yet there is something fundamentally wrong about the way that PKP and its subsidiaries treats its customers. Take my experience at Poznan earlier today. I had 5 minutes to catch my connection to Stary Bojanowo. My train from Warsaw had arrived 10 minutes late. As I jumped onto the platform, I heard the announcer tell passengers to hurry up for the connecting train to…  a list of stations… Stary Bojanowo was not among them. I rushed down to the subway looking for a timetable. I spied 5 timetables… all gave the time of arrivals, not departures.

At last a yellow departures timetable, but the new slim line format does not allow all intermediary stations to be listed. According to it there are no trains to Stary Bojanowo from Poznan ever. I barge rudely to the front of the queue to the information window only to be told that I have just missed my train. In despair I make my way to the train dispatcher’s office. Here I receive a lecture. We held your train for 8 minutes. Yet you and a whole crowd of others failed to make your connection. Didn’t you hear the announcements? Yes, I heard the announcements, but no Stary Bojanowo was mentioned. Yes that’s right we don’t announce all the intermediate stations; we expect you to know the ultimate destination of your train.

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3 Responses to “Customer care conundrum”

  1. Trevor Says:

    Customer care is hell, if you don’t see your customer as someone who is not an expert on your job. The worst bit is when the people who complain about poor service they receive – then go and give poor service themselves – and fail to see why they need to give it. Grrrrh!

  2. Dave H Says:

    Possession being 9 parts of the law (nunc nostri estus) the method is to get all the passengers for the unannounced station to sit on the steps of the train and when the platform dispatcher or guard comes up to simply ask them to confirm the train calls at your stations, as no one had announced this.

  3. martingowans Says:

    Customer service isn’t PKP’s strong point and in my experience it’s worst at stations. In my experience, the on-board conductors all seem pretty good. The website fairly easily gives information and prices to select journeys. At stations, however, there’s often a lack of information and the staff are fairly rude. On one of my earlier visits to a PKP kasa, we tried to buy some weekend passes which would allow us to visit Lublin one day and Łódź the next: the ticket salesperson flatly denied such a ticket existed, before saying that the ticket cost about 1.5 times what we were expecting. A trip to a new Centrum Obsługi Klienta yielded the ticket and excellent customer service!

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