Now I know I may have lived in Yorkshire for far too long and am starting to moan about everything but… given that the majority of businesses are investing heavily in Customer Care training are things really progressing?

Last week I was forced to visit one of the big name banks in the centre of Leeds. Now it is a few years since I did this in the big city, but it seems like a lot has changed.  The said bank now resembles a hotel reception area – not a grilled cashier in sight. After a few moments of doubt I realised I had to visit one of the “reception desks”.

“Have you had a lovely day” asked the very pleasant lady.

“Not really,” was my reply “I’m soaked”.

I need to explain at this point that I had just walked out of a monsoon, and would have frightened a drowned rat.

The reason for my visit was to pay in a cheque (remember them everybody?).

“Can I ask what the “G” stands for?” asks the very pleasant lady.

Resisting the temptation to say “Gorgonzola” or “Gilbert”, I gave her my name. Every further sentence then included the word “Geoff” (never liked my name much – I’ve always seen myself as a “Kurt” or “Pierce”).

The final flourish of the conversation concluded with: “Where are you going on holiday Geoff?”

“Near to the Corinth Canal” I replied.

“Oh I adore France” states the very pleasant lady, oblivious to the fact she has transplanted the canal from its usual home in Greece. At this point a bucketful of opportunities presented themselves – for once I resisted. Back into the street and the torrential set fit for Noah.

The moral of this long and upsetting tale – projecting your real personality is better than that of a false façade. I understand exactly what the pleasant lady was attempting to do (and dare I suggest had been trained in), however, it came across as natural as Katie Price in a cosmetic surgery clinic. Having looked at what Customer Care training is available it seems most providers use exactly the same template.

At the University of Leeds, and in turn at MEETinLEEDS, we employ people who have the ability to communicate naturally and also respond as individuals, as well as displaying our values. I am not convinced all the training in the world can change attitude if it is wrong in the first place. Providing a script might work most of the time… but obviously not if it’s hammering it down outside.


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