Just trying to keep my customers satisfied

Jetty & lifeboat ramp, St. Catherine's Bay, Jersey

Jetty & lifeboat ramp, St. Catherine’s Bay, Jersey

Paul Simon wrote a song with the title of this post. You and I know that if our customers are not satisfied they will take their business elsewhere, so it is important that we keep them happy.

Do our employees, and all those who work for us follow that ethos? One bad experience of a rude and unpleasant worker can send away future buyers of our products and services, and they will never return.

Recently my wife and I were accompanying my elderly parents on a short flight from our local airport to Jersey, which up to now I had thought was excellent. My father is ninety-one, and a sharp cookie, still very on the ball and knowledgeable, but he is not able to walk far without assistance, and he is rather deaf. While going through security on our outbound flight, my Dad rang the bell, which turned out to be because he had some keys in his back pocket. That is an easy mistake to make. I once turned up at an airport with a pair of kitchen scissors in my pocket I had used to open a bag of cat litter for our cat sitter on the way out of the door.

Anyway, I had passed security by the time my Dad rang the bell, and I could see he was left standing and rather confused, because he could not heat what the male security person had said to him. Dad looked very uncomfortable because his walking stick had been taken from him to be X-rayed. After a minute I could see he was unsteady and frankly bewildered and lost, so I walked back to him and asked if he was OK, and whether I could help.

At this point the security person drew himself up to his full height and puffed himself up, and barked to me in his best nightclub-bouncer-bully mode “Move away”, and when I said that Dad needed help, “Move away now”. I did because I feared we would have a major incident, but I was very worried about my Dad. After a couple more minutes he was cleared to join us.

I appreciate that security people have a job to do, but even the most dyed-in-the-wool “jobs-worth”should treat people correctly according to the circumstances and in this case:

  • Treat an elderly man with respect.
  • Take account of evident frailties.
  • Treat his well-meaning son with respect (and indeed any customer with good intentions).

An out-of-control employee can potentially drive away a large number of customers; both those who are witnesses to any incident and those who hear about it later.

I have written to Southend Airport to suggest they consider sending their employee for some suitable training.

Of course security personnel have to deal with all sorts of bad attitudes, and must adapt their behaviour accordingly. There is no excuse for treating without sympathy, compassion and understanding elderly people who have served and fought for their country

Have you seen a more effective way of damaging your market than this?


I have received a response to my complaint, the gist of which is that they apologise for having upset my family and me. There is no indication that they acknowledge that mistakes were made or that they will address their problem. It is not a response that helps customer relations as far as I am concerned.

Have you received unsatisfactory feedback when complaining to a service supplier? What did you do?

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