Thoughts on customer communication

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In August I was travelling from my home in Alsager to London and I had to be there mid-morning. So the night I stopped off at the Virgin run ticket office at Crewe Station to buy my tickets. On the way back I wanted to drop in on a business associate in Crewe, so I was looking to get tickets from Crewe to London but I would actually get on the initial trip in Alsager.

Just to check when buying the tickets I must have asked at least three times “does the train go through Alsager?” Embarrassing as it is to admit it, I asked the wrong question. This became apparent even to me when the 6.52am did go through Alsager – at 40mph and they did not even open the doors to give me a fair chance.

I took the next train to Stoke and was told that my vastly overpriced ticket was invalid – the ticket operator did however let me off when I explained the story.

No such luck when I reached Stoke, I had to pay another £80 for a ticket to London and told that I did not have a chance in hell of getting any money back as the change to the trains was an “improvement” that had happened in May.

So what blindingly obvious lessons did I learn from this?

  1. Questions need to be precise and unambiguous (after 15 years in the trade I should have know this)
  2. Phrasing of an issue matters – this is why I now talk about marketing and sales since this is how the customer sees it and if you
  3. Information is pointless unless it is provided to the right people at the right time.

I also found out who are the people with more money than sense who travel on Virgin Trains.

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