Posts Tagged Customer Service

Sunday Column (426)

Monday morning flights kind of suck. Although I should be used to them by now. The good thing? You catch up on your emails you got over the weekend, no replies until you are mid air, and a relaxing flight. Luckily I didn’t have to get up earlier than normal (5 am), so I was right awake and ready to conquer the week. Yet, having had little on the todo list, I enjoyed a relaxed flight listening to podcasts, dozing and enjoying a whole seat row to myself. And the hotel had a sauna. I know British people still think it might be odd to go to a sauna naked, and funny enough so do I now a bit, but it was super relaxing. A steam bath too. I enjoy a bit of spa life in the evenings, trying to not booze up and have fat German meat for dinner. I had it for lunch instead and rather enjoyed it 😉 Fatherland.

Now I still have this Easyjet Pluscard. Yes I jump queues and have fast track through the airport which is handy, and the seats are free to book, however looking at the boarding procedure, Easyjet just let’s people on the plane regardless of speedy boarding or not. I wouldn’t mind but some flights have problems with luggage on board, and children/families aren’t allowed to jump the queue either. I tweeted them a couple time before but so far I haven’t had a satisfactory answer. Children and elderly should board first. Then the ones that pay. Then the rest. This is not about being right but about caring from Easyjet. Everyone who has travelled with little ones knows what hassle it can be. Rant over 😉

Darren Daily, my daily motivational video I listen to at 5 am, reminded me to be happy in the now. I was very happy in the now on Sunday last week. We went to a nice National Trust place and the kids played, ran around, climbed trees etc. I was happy. They were happy. The wife was happy. Happiness is here and now, not when you earn another million pounds, own another car or finish the driveway. We often forget, and I find myself thinking and writing about it a lot, how good we have it and how much we enjoy life. Yes, there is always more to learn, always more to do. Sometimes we just need to stop and enjoy. I feel like I am at the point of doing that. Just as a plane accelerates, breaks through the clouds and almost seems to sail and glide on top of the clouds. To just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. To not push the envelope on things all the time, and just enjoy a bit of what there is. Stop to smell the roses.

My laptop of three years was officially announced dead this week. As I don’t need it anymore, a £400 repair to sell it at £350 or below doesn’t make sense. It seems a waste but my iPad mini set up with keyboard works just like a laptop. To be fair, I think I could easily work off a iPad Pro moving forward instead of getting a laptop again. We shall see. For the time being I have a MacBook Air from work and my iPad Mini for most private things; I shall try to sell my MacBook Air on eBay, or keep it and repair it when I need a laptop again. With most files and pictures now being in the cloud, the question really is for what you need a laptop for anyway. There is talk about having a computer screen at work, in a hotel or at home which just connects to your phone and this will give you access to all your files you need. Fully secure and fully functional. So all peripherals are sitting at one’s disposal and access to cloud based files happens via your ‘dock-phone’. I like that idea. It makes sense.

If you think back, at least for me, when I grew up it was all about owning a CD or vinyl. About having an amazing music system in the living room and owning a fast car. Nowadays it is all about sharing. Buying a part of the ownership, to lease cars, music and streaming movies. Less ownership, less hassle, less responsibility. It is much easier to have access to files these days. Remember libraries? I can’t help the feeling and enjoy the atmosphere of a library. Books, dust and more books. The comics I used to borrow and read. Then cycled back to the library and got new ones. Sometimes more than twice a week. Those were the days. Or at university, sitting in the library doing research, using one of the few computers available, slow, to look up magazine titles. All this can now be done from the comfort of your home. How nice and easy.

Overall I had a great week. The boys were on half term and came and visit me in the office. We had fun! The weekend was good too. My wife ran another race and we went for her early birthday meal. Nice. Life is great.

Be happy and enjoy life.
Love and Happiness from little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (324)

My wife made me very proud last weekend. She managed to walk 26.2 miles, the Moonwalk, a marathon, during the night, no sleep. That is a fantastic achievement. She has been training very hard for the past few months and she really deserves an applause of finishing and raising money for charity. Well done!

For myself I feel a bit under the weather. The changing weather, no one believes it’s actually summer, some virus and a lot of work don’t help me getting back into my routine. Another bank holiday this weekend, a day trip to Milan just don’t get you into the swing of things. Anyway, I am not complaining, just the opposite. I have probably never been happier in any job nor in life in general. That is a good sign I suppose.

The shed is finished and the camping equipment is here. Now we need to test it of course. A lot of returns and exchanges via Amazon partners made me realise how much stuff gets actually sent by partners and not Amazon itself. Rude customer service with awful English and offers to take a discount to avoid returns, shine a bad light on Amazon. They tried their best to calm me down and enforce their T&C and customer service standards on their partners, but with little success. For me, having had a few negative experiences, it is clear that anything that is not shipped by Amazon will be avoided unless it is a low value item that I keep regardless whether I am happy with it.

Life

We should really return to the brick and mortar stores, look at things, maybe pay a bit more for less hassle. I am learning. Still. Maybe eCommerce isn’t the holy grail after all? I think it is but why bother with the hassle of trying to be charged £24 for a return of a suitcase to Germany that was bought on Amazon.co.uk. In the UK I can ship it for £6 or get free return on the Samsonite website which is only marginally more expensive. I learned. And I let Amazon know. That’s all I can say. Still waiting for the refund, and Amazon telling the seller off. You haven’t heard the end of it yet….

Milan was a nice trip as always. A bit short. Flight in at 6 am, back for 7 pm, three meetings, a few calls. Wow. I actually enjoy those days but they feel you a bit knackered the next day. I wonder why 🙂 Next week I do Amsterdam, train to Eindhoven, back to Amsterdam, flight home. Yet I also got a few days off too. Might just be what I need.

The time with the boys is precious. I managed to work from home two days this week. Whilst I spent most of the time in my study, I managed bath time once and breakfast 4 days this week. That is good. The neighbours complain about the noise in the garden after we got a trampoline but I think they are just picky as the kids can see over the fence 😉 Never mind, we moved it for the peace of the neighbourhood.

Life is wonderful. Let’s hope the weather continues to improve and we have an awesome summer. Half term next week, and hopefully some more quality time with the boys. The first BBQ is done yet we haven’t tested the tent yet. Maybe tonight….maybe next weekend.

Last but not least a good friend died this week. A family friend. It came very unexpected, so the news was even more shocking than it normally would have been. May you rest in peace, you enriched many lives, not only ours!

Have a good week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (322)

Exciting times. At time of publishing I will be networking with the international digital industry. In no other place than Rome. I haven’t been to Rome for a long time, yet probably don’t get a chance to see much either. Let’s see. Of course I report back next week.

Despite my hatred about the commute, the train had been on time once this week, I also enjoy the community of commuters. The chap that confirms the train is stopping at our station despite the wrong on-train announcements. The guys in the morning for the daily chit chat. Yet, the moment we get on the train it is “each to their own”. We get on with our things. Sleep. Reading. Writing blogs. Internet banking. Emails. Whatever is on the list that day.

A lot of ladies put their make up on and I am still debating whether I mind it or not. I suppose I am not too bothered, yet I wonder what people would say if I shaved on the train. Surely that wouldn’t be acceptable.

I get a lot of reading done on the train, yet this week was all about recovering. I had my first Kettlebell class which was more exhausting than I thought. Now I am trying to fit in a Kettlebell routine into my exercise plan, as I now have the garage free of stuff. My den. Yet my new shed is still not finished, so the overall project would have taken two weeks longer than anticipated. A bit annoying. Great craftsmanship yet no delivery on time.

As you know I have very high standards when it comes to customer service. And again, I was surprised twice this week. The first time that my insurance didn’t kick a fuss or made it extra difficult to repair my phone. So I got an exchange and will pay my excess, and the cheque arrived already too. Wow!

However, Apple of course wasn’t a problem. Their online chat was great helping me when I ran into problems restoring the phone. It is all set now, I hope anyway. Yet Vodafone once again managed to piss me off!

I contacted them on the 24th of April for a “copy of my contract”. They said they send a pdf which they didn’t. I called again on Saturday and they explained it takes 24 hours. Monday they told me I should email them, however it was on my file but delayed due to the weekend. The email team got back to me asking for security details and never got back to me after that. My tweets to VodafoneUK_Help rang through, then again another email and 10 days later I had my proof. WTF?? Seriously, that is rubbish.

Then two days later a call centre agent tries to upsell me on Vodafone. Sorry, but sort your sh* out and call me (I am sure you have my number) and apologise first, then offer me a deal and make sure I am not leaving you guys when my contract is up. And it is up very soon! I then, upon request, emailed them again with that story. Give me some free stuff and make me happy I said. Let’s see what they answer.

Why I am still getting annoyed at them? Because I am helpless and in no position to actually change their behaviour, yet I am dependent on what they tell me and how they treat me. And they can treat me however they like, can’t they? Maybe I should contact Watchdog or some kind of website or TV programme and really go after bad customer service. Whilst not trying to overlay my high standards on every thing, as otherwise I would get too frustrated, I do expect more respect from a brand like Vodafone. Guess not.

Another bad example of customer service

Another bad example of their customer “service”

Also this week I booked some time off. Plan is to go camping. Putting all those little things in the Amazon basket that we might not need, camping gadgets, is exciting. Will I enjoy it? Yes, I think so. It will get me out of my comfort zone and as long as the boys love it, I am sure I will. I just hope the dog is ‘out of’ season by then.

A catch up with a good friend and a great networking night left me a wee bit ropey on Thursday. A good night though. Some proper high level networking which is great. Being a bit tipsy definitely helps to chat, connect, and ‘speed date’.

Hey, and that was another week. As normal, the usual working hours cramped into less working days.

Last but not least Cameron won the election. Not a bad result, given all other leaders resigned. He seems to be our best choice currently, so let’s carry on for another 5 years and see.

Have a great week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (286)

Spending 10 days without the family was great. Or was it? There is something to it, like being able to leave things lying about like scissors, knives and lighters. There is something about getting up at 5 am and making lots of noise. Or to spend all Saturday in front of the computer trying to set up websites and new blogs about productivity. On the other hand, I did miss those cuddles, the love and being part of a team of people, however small. The constant reminder that life isn’t only about yourself, you and what you want to do. But that life is for sharing, for teaching and learning.

I ordered a huge pizza on Sunday, being very lazy. Did I enjoy just eating by myself? Of course I didn’t. Wouldn’t it have been more fun to share it with the kids and watch a movie in the living room sitting on the picnic blanket. Or, as we normally do, make pizza ourselves. The way I felt on Monday it would for sure been a better idea. Not coming home to an untidy house where toys are all over the place, discovering new ones and fixing old ones. Not having someone in the car with me when going shopping. All those small things where you really miss the company and the ever so curious comments about life.

Yes, I missed my family dearly.

My commute this week was horrible. Or it was close to being horrible, but luckily I could work from home a lot. Monday’s bank holiday helped too. London Bridge was closed so we were working off a weekend timetable. One train an hour into London Victoria. So I got the 6:20 train to Victoria, anticipating the worst for the 7:30 one, the only peak hour train. But I managed and hopefully from next week things return to normal. Actually I enjoyed empty trains in the morning and early arrival at work for 7:45….utter madness 😉

I was hinting at it last week already, but autumn isn’t far. Theoretically another three weeks, yet the Indian Summer is here. Golden light, first golden leaves falling from trees, fresh air and of course the first days of “Schmuddelwetter”, rainy dark days. I love autumn, nothing like it. Whilst spring is nice with days getting warmer, I don’t think you can beat autumn for the feeling and light in the air. My favourite season.

Autumn Hedgehog 1

Setting up my blog over at tidwows has been a great learning curve. I haven’t changed much at this blog and I am now discovering all new features, plugins and so on. Both blogs fulfil different purposes. Whilst this one is my personal blog where I predominantly share my personal life, tidwows is about productivity and personal development. My original plan for this blog, going back to 2007, was to make it about personal development, but I find it is better to separate it under a different brand. Again, I tried that a few years ago too but now found my niche since writing my book about productivity last year. I often get asked if that is what I do but to be honest, for the foreseeable future, I stick to what I do best and work in digital marketing as my main job. So no big plans. That might change in 5 years time, it might not. We shall see. For the time being I enjoy working on productivity and personal development, being able to help others.

The latter part is important. This isn’t all about me, and hence the separation of the two sites. One is about me, and me alone 🙂 One is about others, and others only.

What bothered me most this week? Zara and Yodel. I had to mention this: Zara this week withdrew a shirt looking like a concentration camp outfit, stripy with a yellow star. You wonder and think this might be coincidence yet you then get pointed out that they withdrew a bag a few years back that showed swastikas all over. What is going on in those designer minds, and the guys signing it off for sales. Are they right in their head? It doesn’t bug me because I am German but just the sheer stupidness of coming up with it. Imagine a brown uniform next….

And Yodel? They said they delivered my item, left it in a safe place. I was in and couldn’t find it. So the customer service suggested they get an answer in 24 hours. An hour later the driver arrives and I said it was described online as being delivered already. His words didn’t make any sense. So essentially, my take is that he had to deliver it before 1 pm and couldn’t, so just pretended he did. Problem is that I was in and on his case already. Maybe those drivers get a lot of punishment for being late, yet Yodel just doesn’t have a good reputation, and whenever I used them, the f* things up.

Never mind, it all worked out in the end. Got my treadmill repaired and waiting for the hoover to be repaired.

For the week in general: it was great to have the family back. We then met friends over the weekend and enjoyed some quality time with them. Life is good. You don’t often realise how well you are and how nice it is to be able to share so many things with your friends. But it is, even if you only see them once a year. Life is busy too. Not only for us.

Have a great week. September. This time for sure.

Volker

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Customer Service 2014

Ok ok ok. I know I am having high standards for some measures, am picky with builders and customer service. That is because I believe in doing a good job and servicing clients exceptionally well. That is important for me. If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing it well.

Now what are the things that piss me off most? Probably wasting my time, letting me wait without an update. That happened at a branch of Metro Bank recently. Once escalated, the branch manager called me, totally got it, said how annoyed he gets at these situations, and that he will do better. On the back of it, I got a present to make up for their mistake. No hard feelings left.

Customer-service-meme

My builders, even if my wife said things are fine, I got quite picky with sometimes. Their patience and resilience in fixing things, moving things and helping was amazing. Not your average builders, and they didn’t do anything wrong, it was just me trying to perfect things 🙂 I love them, they doing an amazing job. Others we had doing some work were not so good, others were pickier than me 😉

Then there was TM Lewin. They needed some pushing, a VERY long email from me, and then they responded. They asked me for the receipt to identify and blame the staff that served me, yet the issues I addressed were not only the way I was treated, but really about the way they handle their staff, shop and business as well as clients in general. Maybe they didn’t appreciate my feedback, despite they said they did. Yet I decided to walk away from a further dispute, some companies just don’t care or don’t want to care. My next lot of shirts will be bought elsewhere.

If you think this is all in the last four weeks, think again. Apple of all companies sold me a faulty computer. Can you imagine? But the way they dealt with it was amazing. Based on the in-shop Genius team’s feedback, the online shop, where I bought my refurbished MacBook Air, replaced this one outside their normal time frame. And when waiting at the shop they kept me informed every step of the way, were friendly and helpful. Now that is what I call superb customer experience.

complaining

As I sit on the train writing this, I remember endless conversations with Southerntrain, or being stuck without communication. It is the same as being on a plane, when you circle for hours and the captain doesn’t tell you why, you get worried and annoyed. Happened before!

And before I post this post, just waiting for the official email from Apple when they dispatch my new machine, I opened a birthday present from my wife. A new Christopher Ward watch. It ain’t working though. Wow. Of course they will return it, send out a new one and all, they apologised and all, but WTF is going on?

Bad karma? Things happening in 3 (that is product not customer service) or just bad luck?

So key about any good customer service is:

– Clear communication: good listening, good understanding and keeping you informed every step of the way.
– Resolution: acceptable solution that makes client happy. This doesn’t always have to be money.
– Follow up: Are you still happy? Did we keep you informed every step of the way?
– Be friendly.

And if you tick all those boxes, you are on a winning street.

Good luck. I seem to need it!

Volker

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Sunday Column (186)

The frequent reader will notice that some weeks I have more to say than others. Normal I guess. This week I startled writing this column on my way back from Milan, one of the three Mexad offices I look after. Every time I take off from Malpensa airport in Milan I forget we are literally on the edge of the alps. Nice views, bumpy and windy starts. I got used to it now. My first trip with my Easyjet plus card, which allows me to speedy board, and it makes my life a lot easier. Thanks boss 😉

I should have done that much earlier. Next week Madrid, a week in London, Milan, Germany…the card already paid for itself in 4 weeks. I love it. But do I really? Speaking to a recruiter this week, and I must stress a recruiter working on our side in Italy, one makes the choice in life whether to travel, progress in a career, and potentially travel more and ultimately don’t see one’s children, or if one wants a 9 to 5 job with lots of time for the kids.

I agree. During the week, thanks to my commute, I hardly ever see the kids. The odd day working from home might mean I see them a bit more that day but catch up on work late into the night. The trade off.

20120920-190658.jpg With us moving out of town to provide a better life for the family, we made the conscious decision that life is just like that – in return when I am home, weekends in particular, I have to be 120% home and with the kids. I comply. Happily. Best of both worlds. Trade off. I

I couldn’t do it without the wife though, and 1 night away a week on average three times a month is not too bad. Lots of “me time” too. Now this week has been busy. After last week’s mega event dmexco we hat the ad trading summit hosted by exchangewire this week. A fantastic get together of the industry leaders and a networking second to one. Great content around RTB and data with some good discussions. Unfortunately, or luckily, I had to leave early to see the kids and prepare for my 4 am start to Italy. Tiring weeks with shows and events, so I am glad I missed ad:tech in London vs. the trip to Milan. Priorities.

One more remark re family: Rohan was ill at the weekend and early last week. This means getting up almost every hour at night. That is draining, but of course you do. One does’t have a choice but to help an ill child. Tiring and frustrating as one can comfort but not release any pain, this makes having kids worthwhile. Sounds funny? I feel deep affection and satisfaction to be able to comfort anyone, and being able to help in general. Being able to make a miserable child feel better, particular one’s own, is a VERY good feeling. I love them both very much.

One last word still about Lufthansa. I have been praising Easyjet on twitter for excellent customer service, quick response times for both email but also social media (twitter) responses. I kept including Lufthansa and only after 3 weeks they replied very “stiffly” that if I tweeted my reference number for the email contact, they would let me know which place in the queue I had. It just shows that Lufthansa has no idea how to approach clients in social media. Not only did I only sent them the link to my Lufthansa article for info, I also complained on twitter about their apology email they sent 3 weeks after the strike, offering me £15 off my next booking. Ridiculous and rude! I spend close to £500 on the flights, another £150 unplanned on clothes as they didn’t get the luggage sorted, and they offer me next to no money as compensation. F@ off Lufthansa. If you had offered me £100 plus a miles & more card crediting my last flight on it and sent this as a nice letter, then maybe I would have said “wow they care”. This way I don’t.

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Why I get so aggravated about it? Because my understanding and standard for customer service is a lot higher! This wouldn’t happen if I was in charge. Imagine I was to fly 4 times with Lufthansa this month instead of Easyjet….but never mind. Let them do it their way, I will try to avoid them like the plague 😉 until of course I have no choice. Even British Airways and I fell out a few years and they managed to get it right at the end. And I love BA for that, great customer service and being a true British airline. However, Easyjet for within Europe is the easiest and most convenient airline for me right now. Enough about this.

The weekend was relaxing. Lots of kids time, hugs and cuddles. I love being a dad. The cat got bitten again and much as a surprise we thinking of welcoming a new addition shortly. More about that in the next few weeks 😉 At the same time we are debating to give away one of our cats as she just doesn’t seem to settle.

Sunday I was hungover, worst one for 2 years. Plus I come down with the man flu, whilst it was raining cats and dogs…..

Have a good week,
Volker

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Lufthansa

Oh dear. I suppose you are not surprised to find a blog post about my recent experience with Lufthansa here. Instead of writing a complaint letter, I am writing this blog post of which I will send a link to the Lufthansa service team.

The story. After 5 hours sleep we woke up to get ready to go to Gatwick airport to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. We woke up the boys, 3 years and 18 months, and made it to the airport for 8 am. Tired and with heavy bags.

Given my recent back problems this was pushing it and as you see later, if I had known what day was ahead of us, I had asked for someone to carry my luggage. So I also blame Lufthansa for my continuous back pain. But never mind, no way of proving it.

At Gatwick we were informed about a strike. Lufthansa was on strike. I had no idea. Nor did anyone email, call or text us. A friendly lady advised us that we would get some vouchers, a ticket for the bus to London Heathrow, and that we are booked on the next flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa.

We complied as we had a wedding to attend. We had ordered kilts, kilt accessories, and the whole lovely outfit for the boys for this special day. Family and friends were looking forward to meet the Scottish family, the three men in kilts. I was proud and excited.

After a bus journey which was fun for the boys but dangerous since buses do not have child seats and our boys are far too small for booster seats, we arrived at Heathrow. Lufthansa put us in the wrong queue which we found out in time to save about 45 minutes. A friendly check in, an almost free meal and we had an hour left to board the plane….so we thought.

Our friends in Germany called and said we were delayed. No word at Heathrow. It seemed as if Lufthansa kept us in the dark but made information available online and in Germany. Further delays caused me to ask at the help desk how long it would take.

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Lufthansa totally understood, they said: travelling with children? Wife and you at breaking point? Only oldest boy allowed in play area (open for 2-8 year olds), affected by strike action, tired and at airports for 5 solid hours. Lufthansa booked us on a plane that was supposed to leave 5 minutes earlier than our delayed one. How nice I thought…

Whilst walking away from the Lufthansa service desk our delayed flight got cancelled. I thought that I at least saved to queue for changing the flight now. But will my new flight actually leave? Will Lufthansa in Germany have more information and will Lufthansa in Heathrow withhold information again?

Maybe I check? No one at Lufthansa in Heathrow was helpful. Best Lufthansa could do was a high rate German phone number they suggested I call from my UK mobile. Seriously? All you can do? No information, no caring, no love. We later called that number from a German landline and hang up after 30 minutes at 14 ct/ minute rate. Assuming this line had been busy on Friday it might have cost me a little fortune to call. So I am glad I didn’t.

When, at the end of my willpower to fly anywhere, I asked at the desk whether our flight will go today, they announce the gate. We got on first. The boys were asleep before take off (almost), very exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. We were advised there was limited food on board. I was starving. To cut it short: we landed in Frankfurt, asked the Lufthansa stewardess whether the buggy will be brought to the plane and they said yes.

I guess at that point I should have known to not listen to Lufthansa anymore. We waited 25 minutes to find out that the buggy would be delivered to the carousel. And as I found out much later, to one for extra sized luggage pieces. So we waited at the baggage reclaim for nothing. And this was literal, as our bag never turned up.

The lady we filed the claim with told us that up to 90% the bag should arrive that night. She offered to drive it to where we stayed as she lived close by. It never came that night. We went shopping that night for nappies, underwear and deodorant, toothbrushes and hygiene articles. We got our medication, contact lenses, new cloths for the boys, iPad charger, new dress for the wife etc. etc. the next day. We spend 660 Euros in 2 hours (or the wife did to be precise).

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The case never turned up until Sunday night. Many phone calls, attempted calls, being on hold, arguing with a stressed Mr. Stratmann, until I spoke to a very nice lady. I spoke to her twice on the phone, clarified things and had my case back. Lufthansa delivered the case at the end. With a taxi. Straight to the door.

A day late for celebrating the wedding in style.
A day late for handing over the wedding gift.
A day late for the presents we brought.

Never mind. We got there at the end. When checking in for our flight back with Lufthansa they checked our bag and it was 27 kg. They almost wouldn’t allow us on. I offered to buy another bag and get Lufthansa to pay for it. I couldn’t care less. They got us into the trouble. Their fault.

We got 485 Euros reimbursed. So we can’t complain too much as this is reasonable for the cloths we got. Still we would have never spent that money in the first place. Others couldn’t afford to. Luckily my kilt was in the hand luggage. Imagine finding a kilt maker in Frankfurt on a Saturday morning.

The flight home was pleasant. Colin and I looked into the cock pit, we had a friendly and good service, got our buggy and luggage and made it home. Exhausted. Drained.

Unnecessary evil. Maybe this could have happened with any airline. However, only with Lufthansa I had bad experiences in the past 3 years. And I fly almost weekly across Europe. Only at Lufthansa I applied 3 times to their miles and more programme and never heard back. Only at Lufthansa I get the impression they don’t really care.

This is my personal opinion. It leaves a bitter taste.

If in doubt or given the choice I would prefer other airlines. Solely based on this weekend. Plus past experiences. But those had been forgotten when I booked these flights. And this experience will fade also.

Safe travels,

Volker

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Sunday Column (183)

Another week, another holiday.

Since my wife was away I decided to take the week off to pick her and the kids up from the airport on Tuesday, it is great to have the family back, and I really enjoyed spending so much time with the boys. Proper family time.

Having said that we set off to go to a wedding in Frankfurt on Friday. An early start which got us to Gatwick for 8 am. Lufthansa however cancelled the flight due to strike actions. This generally wasn’t a big problem I thought. They booked us on a plane from Heathrow that was suppose to land at 4 pm, got us some vouchers and put us on the bus. Whilst not very safe, Colin loved the bus ride and we were ready for take off when the Lufthansa flight got more and more delayed.

I tried to stay calm, asked Lufthansa what we or they can do to ease our pain and they booked us on an earlier plane. I thought that was nice until they cancelled our old flight the minute I left their counter. Fair enough, but our final flight got delayed now too. Anyone who has kids can just imagine how I felt with 2 kids at a busy airport. At the end we made it. Some more empty promises from Lufthansa about luggage, about whether our pram will be collected at the gate etc, and a service which was just appalling.

Last but not least we arrived at our destination and celebrated a fantastic wedding. Unfortunately without the children’s kilts. They and my wife’s dress, the wedding gifts and toiletries were in our bag. And that bag still hasn’t arrived at time of writing. I assume we get it some time next week. As I am about to publish the post the case arrived 🙂 Who would have guessed?

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We had to buy new cloths last minute which we didn’t budget for and Lufthansa will only reimburse 50%. Wow. What a nightmare. I just hope we manage to get back tomorrow. I can’t take another day off work, and I cannot work from a hotel room. Is Lufthansa insured against me not being able to work?

Anyway I will write the whole story up one day and copy it to Lufthansa customer service. If there’s such a thing. Will be a few hundred pounds out of pocket for a few week thanks to Lufthansa, and I have cloths I don’t need. Never mind. They better not be funny about reimbursements.

Otherwise the week was great. We met with some really good friends, my family and brother’s family. The kids and us had a great time. That is all what matters. A slight pressure on and in my head after the wedding but a great wedding party 🙂 what else does really matter.

Lufthansa however went down in brand perception. With me and thousands of other stranded passengers. They probably lost more money than they had to pay for additional salaries. Silly, annoying and stupid. That paired with bad customer service is just wrong. How can or will those companies survive?

I better stop ranting. We didn’t let ourselves down or got miserable just because some company couldn’t deliver on their promise. I guess I am getting old.

Have a better week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (161)

I think I have one resolution from this week: I give up sleep. I had a good night on Monday night. Tuesday I left early to the airport, the hotel in Milan was awful, and Thursday night as well as Friday night the kids woke us up, stayed in our bed and you just don’t get a good night’s sleep. Luckily my parents were here at the weekend, so I squeezed in a quick snooze to catch up 😉 But honestly, I thought things would get better. And on top of it, if you had as much as two glasses of wine, you feel even worse. Not hangover, but just knackered.

What a hectic busy week on top of that! Honestly, I was in Milan and realised that by the time I was back, sleep excluded, I spend 30 solid hours working. Given the rest of the week was pretty normal, I probably came close to about 60 hours this week. I am getting very busy again. But I enjoy that, and I am very productive. It is not about the quantity of hours you spend at work but the output. You remember my presentation about productivity? Or here, a summary of GTD and Productivity. And of course the summary of another great book I read: Bob Seelert on Productivity and starting with the answers.

By the way books. I finished The Personal MBA book. A great book that refreshed some of my MBA Class learnings back in 2004. I don’t believe it has been 8 years that I a) met my wife, b) got my MBA, and c) started working. And I lived in Beckenham for the past 8 years too.

Nicely to the next topic. We are all ready to move, and everyone seems to be happy to exchange contracts and complete. We had a date for late April which might either be pushed back to June (!) or it comes forward to in two weeks time. Wow….it is stressful this whole moving thing. As long as I finally settle this year I am not too bothered when it is. The sooner the better though. Keep your fingers crossed, we might know on Monday…we might not. The constant “not knowing is not great”.

Another book I started reading is “Inside Apple“: after Steve Jobs biography another book about this “fruit company” that I cannot put down. Actually I finished it this weekend. Whilst I wouldn’t want to work for Apple, I can see the appeal a bigger corporation has. If you have seen my CV (link to Linkedin on the right), I am more of a start-up guy. I enjoy building things up, getting things done and manage to do that on a shoe string. However, the more I think about it, and now being part of a bigger company, I see the appeal of a more corporate structure and a more process and outcome oriented corporation. Not that a start up wouldn’t be outcome oriented, but I find it easier changes direction and can re-invent itself new all the time. Not that everyone does though.

Let me finish with my normal moan about customer services. Vodafone again. Every time I take out a contract they decide I need a special service. Last time I had a TV package for £5/month, this time it was a sat nav package for the same price. Excuse me, I cancelled my sat nav package in December 2010!!! With 391 million customers world wide, even if only every 10th customer pays £5 a month and doesn’t notice, you had approximately 200 million revenue extra per month. Now, I can understand their reasoning but that is absolutely WRONG. The only reason I stay with Vodafone is their superior reception – that is everywhere but our office in the centre of London though 😉

Ok, enough of a moan. I quit my Ocado account completely now, so that is done. I had a great weekend with the family, my parents and kids. So all great. Life is great to me, and I am grateful for that. What ever happens will happen. What ever path I chose it will lead me to where my life is destined. I am confident. I am eager.

Have a great week, Easter is coming soon!

Best wishes
Volker

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Sunday Column (146)

A week today is Christmas Day. This year certainly passed quickly. But more about that next week.

This week I was thinking of warming up the crap I am hearing from Vodafone’s customer service but then thought that I get truly bored of incompetent companies’ customer service. But you already know that. Waitrose even didn’t reply to all the questions I asked them in an email but instead just focused on the first. What is wrong with those people? Or are my standards too high?

Enough. This week I was ill. I am still not 100% and have a few issues that are delicate to be resolved. I am loving my challenges lately. I enjoy my life. Actually I am happy.

So this week I want to talk about a very happy man: Postman Pat.

If you don’t know who he is, watch this video:

Postman Pat lives with his black and white cat in Greendale. Colin watches it all the time. Pat has a family, a wife that helps in the local community, a son that goes to school. They don’t have a dog, but other than that, they could just live in Beckeham.

They have this little house, maybe a 2 bedroom. Pat loves his job, enjoys going to work and being busy. He likes his breaks, his cup of teas, the banter. He is there to help, develop and jump in for anyone in the community.

Postman Pat, living in the little village seems untouchable from any economic crisis, price inflation, weather or Vodafone’s customer service. They live in their own little world, a small world, in which they are just very very happy with the situation they are. Like living in a bubble.

I am sometimes wondering if 2012 will find us the place were we can live in a bubble? A place to which I can come home to after my busy days and just go into a bubble where I don’t have to worry. Next year we have to make a decision on schools for the kids and where to live for probably the next 16-20 years. A scary and weird thought. But I hope it is going to be this place that is close enough to my work/London but remote enough for me to be happy in my little world where I can just be very very happy.

Have a great last week before Christmas.

Volker

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