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This week’s guest blog is from Vicky Carruthers.

I am off to the North West coast of Scotland soon. It is a rearranged holiday from last year, and somewhere I have visited many times before. This year, for the first time in years my parents are coming with me.

My parents have decided they would like to go over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Glenfinnan Viaduct runs on the line between Fort William and Mallaig, and was made famous by the Harry Potter Films. Now, a popular day out, particularly as there is a steam train that runs on this route, two journeys a day.

Now, you would think booking this train journey would be straight forward right? After all it is 2021 and it’s just a train journey. Wrong. I started trying to book this journey in the middle of May, for some time between 26th June and 10th July.

Firstly, it took me ages to find out where to book as it is not obvious on their website, then you have to click on a drop down list to change the date as it will only show you availability for one train per day per page (there is a morning and afternoon service). When I eventually figured out how to do this, there were “insufficient seats on this date”, so I went through all the dates up until the last day it was showing, 30th June. No availability. “No problem” I thought, it is after all a popular journey. I was sure further dates would open up soon so I would keep checking.

Early June came and still no further dates opened up. I decided to email them at the email address which is at least easily visible on their website to contact them.

I emailed them on the 5th June. On the 9th June I had not received a reply so I checked availability again. It just so happened there were enough tickets (3) availably on one of the dates up until 30th June so I booked these. £210 by the way, so not cheap. Then on 13th June, I finally got a reply from them stating “we cannot book via email as our booking system is a live system and updating all the time. Please book via our website”.

Well. I’d tried hadn’t I? But 8 days to get a response in 2021? Really? By the way, in my original email I had signed off with my name, but the response came to “Dear Sir/Madam” and the person who had sent the email signed off without giving their name. What is that company trying to hide behind? Their poor customer experience?

Not the greatest customer experience I have ever had that’s for sure. Still, the train journey itself is meant to be spectacular for the scenery. I hope it is, after all, I won’t hold my breath for a great experience for everything else.

Oh by the way, I checked this morning and bookings are still only up to 30th June. Now, I know we are in the midst of a pandemic but surely they could extend beyond then if they can go up to the 30th June in the first place? It’s completely sold out by the way, just in case you were thinking of booking.

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We have talked plenty in recent weeks about very poor service experiences, so am delighted this week to write about two great experiences. I went to the physio last week. Never something to look forward to, but they have definitely updated and redesigned their service experience since I last went a couple of years ago. They now have an online pre-assessment where you fill out details of your condition, pain issues, mobility etc. This is then reviewed by the physio before you arrive on his tablet, so doesn’t waste time establishing the nature of the condition. More time for treatment. Everything about the condition, treatment and exercise plan, explained on the screen, with diagrams, all supported with a really fabulous human interaction.