Monday, April 8, 2013

Perhaps some middle ground?

Further to my experiences yesterday of professionals providing we punters with a littletoo much detail about the machinations of their responsibilities in theinterests of outstanding customer service, today we have an all-too-different approach on offer.

Now to be clear up front, today’s long haul flight is my first in many years which has not been with an Asian carrier, and this is my first time ever to have flown with Australia’s national carrier on any journey longer than a couple of hours, so the approach to customer service that is being displayed by the flight crew today may simply be a reflection of cultural diversity.

If one were to view the key to herding passengers on and off a plane and through the lengthy flight as being a customer service exercise best executed with a gentle, carrot and stick mentality, then one can clearly see from amongst the Southeast Asian carriers a pleasant, gentle, overly hospitable manner to coax people along, much as you might expect to experience when invited to share a meal in the home of a Thai or Vietnamese host.

This contrasts dramatically with our Australian hosts who are today dispensing with the carrot, grabbing the stick in two, muscular, tattooed sheep-shearer’s arms, and adopting a threatening stance while staring down any potential opposition with aggressively flared nostrils.  Today, we passengers are being subject to a high rotation of disgruntled, waspish directions from the ageing purser in her most condescending, School Marmish sneer;

“I would like to remind all passengers that the Captain has put the fasten seat belt light on and you are all to sit down immediately”, followed a couple of minutes later by an even more snidey,

“Passengers are again reminded to stop getting out of your seats”, and a few minutes later – thoroughly pissed now at the passenger body’s general affront to her authority,

“Right, now … for the safety of all the passengers you need to siddown and keep your seat belt on!”.

And then, in a final, exasperated attempt to address the insolence of the anarchic, seat-belt flaunting passengers throughout the cabin, our irritated purser must have gone to a higher authority.  The Captain’s voice crackled aggressively on the intercom,

“Ah it has been brought to my attention that passengers are not observing the fasten seat belt sign.  May I remind you that I control this vessel and it is not your decision to walk around the cabin … it’s mine!”.

Ha!  If there’s one thing that’s gonna drive this passenger to mile-high lawlessness, it’s a direct order from someone in self-imposed authority!  Two days; two customer service don’ts!  How ironic that Australia’s national carrier is currently in political hot water at home for sending all its maintenance services offshore to Asia; the exact place which would serve it well in terms of learning some improved approaches to customer service.

The purser on today's flight delivered a pretty good rendition of the embittered, angry school marm.  Pic:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vocational Training

Every job in the world has its perks … and its lurks; the butcher is a legally sanctioned killing machine who gets to walk around all day with a lethal weapon at his hip … but spends his days up to his nuts in guts; the baker makes tonnes of dough*, but is up at 1am and covered in flour; the candlestick maker does a roaring trade each year during Earth Hour … but has hands covered in burns; the primary school teacher get 38.4 weeks a year holiday … but those bloody kids; and the podiatrist gets around in a Maserati with a hooker on his lap … but suffers a daily ordeal of toe-jam and horny old nails.

Obviously, in business as in life, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and in order to enjoy the good, you have to put up with a bit of the bad.

Here in Vanuatu, the good is most certainly the fantastic climate, the laid-back pace, the wonderful people and the brilliant, sparkling sea, and understandably it is not uncommon for adventurous folk from places like Australia and New Zealand to move here and sign-up for an extended, working tropical holiday through managing small scale tourism businesses such as resorts and restaurants.

Over Easter, the Donkeys visited one such establishment where a young couple taking a break from a year or two on the backpacking trail, had recently arrived to service the needs of their fellow travellers, and at the same time, enjoy living on a stunning coastline in one of the world’s few remaining tropical coastal wildernesses.

But instead of being happy with the perks they enjoy every day, at three weeks, they are at each other’s (and their resort guests’) throats; he wanting to hang-out all afternoon with the young [and female] guests and she wanting to visit the local tourist sites because, as she would tell all within earshot, “it’s not fair.  I have been here for weeks and I never get to go anywhere”.

Every job has its perks, people … and its lurks.  The explosive sunrises, azure reefs and balmy evenings aren’t free; you might also have to do some work, like stock the larders, fix things, clean things and look after guests.  One thing’s for sure, as someone who paid for my explosive sunrises, azure reefs and balmy evenings, I was not entirely happy with the nagging lurk of a disgruntled and dysfunctional resort management. 

Still, life has a way of working itself out, and looking around at the haunted looks of my fellow guests every time one of these managers walked out onto the balcony, I have a feeling that they may soon find themselves enjoying far more ‘me time’ than they’d signed-up for.  It’s called hospitality for a reason … and it aint about you!

Bit of a mixed metaphor here, but the point is that even these guys suffer lurks in return for the perks of their jobs … and they don’t look to be complaining.  Pic:

*urgh – that was terrible