Lack of good service

15th of April 2010

The UK reporter for ECJ looks back at how the winter weather has affected the industry, and bemoans the lack of good service across the country.

There is nothing like a good winter for using any surplus grit, increasing cleaning and dealing with absenteeism caused by the weather. Some people managed to get to work. Others simply gave up, quoting closed schools or police advice. Should those who did not make it be paid? It is unlikely that the contractor will receive any additional payments. In fact in the present circumstances he or she would probably be unwise to mention it.

Act of God is not insurable so we do what we always do - grin and bear it. God gets help too. Schools are closed. The police who apparently no longer jump into the water if you are in difficulties, tell people not to travel; the media magnifies the weather reports; authorities almost run out of grit and salt and those who have prepared have their supplies annexed to councils lacking foresight.

Lost phone access

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) HQ is on a commercial estate in Northampton and recently along with all the other occupiers lost its telephone and email access. The main cable was stolen. We will not deal with the prison system, the penalties or the parentage of those stealing the cable - which is for another time and place - but despite ‘promises’ it took eight days (no work at weekends of course) to replace the cable. Eight days! In 2010! As is often said, you could not make it up!

In the 1880’s the main train track from London and Penzance was relaid in a weekend. In 1962 after a serious train crash near Northampton the line was in full use in 72 hours. Is this what progress means? Progress toward what?

Elaborate systems

Many companies use call centres and elaborate phone systems. At the call centre it is seldom that the member of staff answers the question or solves the problem and one never speaks to the same person twice. As we have nearly three million unemployed, he or she is often in Mumbai, charming but difficult to understand and rarely providing a comprehensible remedy. All staff, whatever the nature of the call, when it concludes say: “Is there anything else I can help you with today.” Even when they have manifestly failed to do so.

Conference slogan

Where the call centre is in the UK - generally in an area of high unemployment - getting through at all is a lottery taking 10 minutes if one has been lucky enough to pick the right option. The most we have come across is the 11 options by the DVLD at Swansea. Don’t wait until number 11 or you will have forgotten three and four.Try number two.This is claimed to be sales but the same man is also responsible for extinct grandmothers who do not own a car.

AHCP, the former ADM (Association of Domestic Managers), now the Association of Health Care Professionals, holds its annual conference in June at Bristol. The slogan: 'Hand in Hand: Caring for our Patients, our colleagues and Ourselves'. This month a report indicated that 30 per cent of hospital trusts were ignoring safety regulations and 81 hospitals failed to respond adequately. Perhaps concentration on ‘ourselves’ needs to be down the agenda a little.

It looks as if the same applies right across the country. No wonder we’re in a mess.


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