This week I’ve got a completely different type of Mystery Shop to share with you because sometimes it’s not what happens, it’s the way it’s dealt with that can make all the difference! From booking the tickets to arriving at your destination, there are a number of aspects to making a train journey which make up the whole customer service experience. Buying my Cross Country trains rail tickets may have been a piece of cake via the Virgin Rail website but undertaking the journey itself was far from it. Here’s what happened when I travelled by train from Cheltenham Spa to Manchester Piccadilly via Reading this weekend!
Friendliness of staff 10/10
My journey to Manchester involved a change in Birmingham New Street. It didn’t start well as an earlier train was cancelled so the service I was travelling on ended up being jam packed. I have to be honest, it was chaos, it took me 15 minutes to get to my seat and I didn’t see any staff on board this service. When I boarded the connecting train to take me to Manchester, I was not in the best of moods. However just two seconds seconds after meeting train manager Andy, all was forgiven! Funny, efficient, friendly and honest, he was exactly the tonic I needed to get the journey back on track and along with the equally personable, helpful and happy Des, the First Class Coach Host, I arrived in Manchester with a customer service smile from ear or ear! It was particularly lovely to see Des helping an elderly lady off the train with her bags. Customer service at it’s very best! On the return journey, again there were problems but the Cross Country team were really friendly, keen to help to resolve issues and give as much information as they could. Just fabulous!
Efficiency of service 10/10
Cross Country staff were very efficient. On my return home, the first leg of the journey was fine but I’d only just sat down on the connecting train before being told that it was cancelled due to signalling problems. There wasn’t much I could do but head back to the concourse and wait for further instructions. Information on the concourse was a little confusing as there wasn’t much available but staff were very willing to help. Once on board an alternative detour service, train manager Owen dealt well with the delays by giving as much information as possible and dealing with passenger enquiries. Service from online CrossCountry Twitter support was also very efficient with quick responses and accurate information and advice.
Quality of service 7/10
I have to give quality of service a lower score as the first leg of my outbound journey was awful and I would rather have walked to Birmingham. The second leg of this journey was much better as I upgraded myself to first class but the first leg of the return one was very busy, the seats aren’t the most comfortable and in contrast to the Great Western Railway service which I ended up on during the detour home, you feel a lot more closed in due to the distance between seat rows. The Cross Country trains are also in real need of a bit of a makeover. However if I was grading this purely on the quality of the customer service received then we would once again be looking at top marks. It’s often when things go wrong rather than right when customer service skills are tested to the limit but everyone I came into contact with, rose to the challenge with ease and due to their skill in dealing efficiently with issues, made sure passengers were as happy as possible despite the inconvenience they had suffered.
Overall experience 8/10
Although none of the delays and cancellations I encountered were Cross Country caused and were exemplarily dealt with, they did unfortunately impact on the overall enjoyability of my rail experience. What was supposed to be two and a half hour journey turned into one which was six! However as I said at the beginning of this post, it’s often not what goes wrong, it’s how it’s dealt with and the way the Cross Country staff I came into contact with dealt with problems made the absolute world of difference hence a mark of 8/10 as to one that could have been a whole lot lower!
See you next week everyone!
Lady Janey x