Me: Do you have change for the photo booth please?
CSA (customer service assistant): I suggest you go to Timpson’s
Walk to in-store Timpson’s, which (coincidentally as it turns out) is adjacent to photo booth
Me: Do you have change etc etc.
Timpson’s: We only take photos
Me: You don’t own the booth then?
Return to customer service desk
Me: You told me to go to Timpson’s but they don’t give change and only take photos themselves
CSA: Yes, well there’s lots of harassment with the photo booth
Me (unthinkingly facetious because frustrated): Harassment? Does it leap out and hit people?
CSA (doubtless calling on reserves of customer training to avoid facetiousness in return): No, er er…
Me: It causes problems?
CSA: Er, yes…
Me: Then why do you have it here? Can you just change the money for me please?
CSA provides requisite change
(The photo booth worked fine – a bit of a fiddle but that was due more to the rigorous requirements of the Identity and Passport Service)
Old hands will know that when I have a go at private companies I usually try and draw lessons for the public sector. So…
- Don’t send out ambiguous messages – like placing two conflicting services adjacent to each other – it suggests you don’t know what you’re doing
- Don’t set up a situation in which, in trying to be helpful to a customer, your staff subvert a service you provide
- Encourage your staff to give feedback about something that isn’t working – and act on it.