We need more Victor Meldrews

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Recommendation is the best salesman any business can have.

There are times when excellent service should be openly appreciated and talked about.

The best business boosters of all are word of mouth, online forums or a suggestion box.

By the same token I criticise any business that leaves something to be desired.

I think more of us should do so.

When I complained about poor service my ex suggested I let it pass; she suggested I be less of a rebel.

Her way was to live with it; to not make a fuss. As I pointed out to her, if it wasn’t for rebels like me we would be working 96 hours a week; they would still be sending kids down mines.

We need more people like the Victor Meldrew character played by Richard Wilson in the BBC comedy One Foot in the Grave.

A responsible business owner encourages customer complaints. He works on the principle: ‘If I get it right tell the world. If I get it wrong tell me.’

Businesses should pin these words over their cash points. The boss needs to see why he is losing customers so he can prevent their flitting to rival businesses.

Larger concerns, especially household name stores and car giants, pay mystery shoppers considerable fees to be make believe customers.

Reporting back on their experience any shortcomings seen through the customers’ eyes, can be rectified. Smaller businesses get their mystery shoppers free of charge.

All they need do is invite customers to be candid as to the service received; there is no better business partner than the involved customer.

I have seen them all and seen them off.

The optician’s wench who sneered; ‘you do realise you have to pay.’ The teenage dentist’s receptionist who snarled: ‘who are you; what is your name?’

Another who publicly questioned my ownership of a debit card? Once when queuing at a health centre’s reception desk we could all hear a patient discussing her urinary ailments.

Only when I complained did they have the wit to provide a privacy space such as that provided by banks and post offices.

Recently NHS staff was sent on a course to teach them how to be civil; so were policemen.

Imagine: a course to teach one how to say please and thank you. In my experience medical centre managers go to great lengths to provide excellent service and delight in hearing patients’ suggestions and complaints.

When I recently set out faults about a certain practice a town hall official conceded she identified it from my description.

See themselves as sacred cows; some doctors let their profession down with curtness or rudeness.

I complained about one such.

The practice management couldn’t thank me enough for drawing their attention to it; I got a new doctor, she was reprimanded.

I had struck a blow not just for me but those too meek to complain. The timid have rebels like me to thank for their being treated with civility.

Poor service from staff exists because customers accept it; we shouldn’t.

Photo credit: © BBC

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