Customer Service

Earlier this year, I was asked if I would like to join the local college’s Hospitality and Catering assessor team – initially working on Customer Service NVQ Assessments. I agreed and the eventual work-load has been quite minimal; but that’s fine because my other work has picked up recently (see previous post).

Being a member of that team is like working on an early episode of New Tricks – both David and I are real old-lags, having worked for what is now The College previously, but that’s great, we know the ropes.

I haven’t earned a penny yet – but that’s F.E. for you.

I mention this because this week, I’ve experienced both sides of the customer service industry – the dark side that we often speak about and the really really good side, that we rarely mention. My check-in at the Travelodge in Maidenhead was smooth and efficient and when I returned to say I didn’t like my room [just inside the door from Reception, twin-bedded, cold and loads of road noise], I was just as smooth and efficiently given another – this time with a double-bed, a heater and another smile.

The taxi service I’m using to get me from the Travelodge to BCA and back have also been great. I phoned Ontime Cars last week and negotiated a price for the week and they’ve been true to their word. Apart from one day, I’ve had a different driver for each journey and they have been jolly, chatty, polite chappies with a ‘sir’ at the end of every sentence: “Are you warm enough sir?”, “Have you have a good day sir?” – great service.

Then tonight I hit the dark side. I walked into the Hobgoblin (pub) and despite looking hopeful amongst the arsehole bar-flies lounging around the bar, I couldn’t find anyone to serve me. No customer service at all. Then, in another pub I was served by the new boy. I don’t have a problem with that, he did his best, but boy did he need help – which wasn’t forthcoming. And that surprised me because Wetherspoons are usually very good at that sort of thing (I got another, older, new boy last night and he was brilliant). After a lot of faffing about he managed to get my Beer (£2.09) right and my food (£8.09) ordered. The till told him the total – £10.18p! I gave him a twenty and he gave me £10.18 change. Now, I know that many places take the ‘loss’ and others don’t, they take it from the server’s wage – so I told the lad what he had done wrong and he said (in his most assured voice) “no sir, it’s a special offer on the beer, your change is correct”. FFS!

Later, a manager passed me by and I called him over – I explained what had happened and after a good deal of explaining and re-explaining, he ‘got it’ and put the matter right. He was one of the ones that could have helped ‘the boy’ earlier – so he went into my poor customer service book too.

Then retuning to the hotel  and finding that my borrowed DVDs were in fact BluRay (MacBook spits them out) – I went down to the bar and – found no one there to serve me. Grumpety grump 😦


Winter working

I’m writing this in the comfort of a delightful cottage, just off The Green, in Reeth, North Yorkshire. We’re here for a long weekend with friends and after a two hours drive, began the day with some shopping in the local Friday market followed by lunch in front of a roaring fire in The King’s Arms. Lovely.

On Monday (probably tomorrow, given my current lack of Internet access) I begin a hectic three weeks. I’m travelling to Maidenhead, where I will stay until Friday – working at Berkshire College of Agriculture. I’ve been asked to work with the college on training staff in the use of their new Moodle installation.

The following week I’m back in the south, this time working on face-to-face aspects of the TechDis Ambassador programme (follow on Twitter – I’m travelling to Lingfield on the Tuesday, to work with Young Epilepsy ( on the Wednesday. I’ll then travel to Weybridge that evening before working at Brooklands College ( on the Thursday. I’ll travel home that night, so I’m home for my birthday on Friday.

My TechDis Ambassador (follow on Facebook – work continues the following week with and overnight in Aylesbury, where I will visit Haydon Training I will return from them on Tuesday evening and then set off again on Wednesday to Margate, where I’m visiting the Margate Adult Education Centre.

All of the projects appear to be wildly different at the moment, but we’ll see – watch this space.  Also see the TechDis Ambassador blog:


On Thursday last, at Guildford College, we launched the TechDis Ambassadors programme.

The purpose of the programme is to create and develop a community of TechDis Ambassadors in the south east of England. Ambassadors can be students or staff.

Our aim is to promote and celebrate the use of technologies that help the learning process, especially for those who experience difficulties with their learning. We explored a number of these at last week’s launch event.

Three TechDis Accredited Trainers were present: myself, Sally Betts and Lilian Soon; along with three TechDis Senior Advisors (Alistair McNaught, Simon Ball and Lisa Featherstone) and two representatives from the JISC Regional Support Centre in Canterbury (Amanda Riley and Artie Vossel-Newman).

Following a quick overview of the project and brief introductions, we began with a game of Taboo!  Lilian led this, with the intention of getting everyone present working together with a common aim – it worked very well and by the end everyone was talking happily to everyone else. And smiling.

We then had introductions to a variety of easily available, easy to use and free technologies. I showed some simple techniques in Microsoft® Word that might have passed people by.

  1. Scroll Wheel+Ctrl easily increases/decreases text size (not Word specific),
  2. Web View overcomes the problem of horizontal scrolling caused by 1. above, and
  3. Drag ‘n’ Drop – using simple techniques to create an interactive resource.

Sally discussed some video creation techniques including:

Lilian, Lisa and Alistair continued the theme by showing a variety of audio creation techniques, uses for Xerte and a variety of uses for everything we had shown. By lunchtime there was a real buzz about the room and everyone was keen to speak with their appointed mentor.

I’m not sure whether ‘mentor’ capture the role properly. Certainly we are there to help, to offer guidance, to train, to be a critical friend, to keep the project on track – but in the end, each person working on the various projects will be the real stars: The TechDis Ambassadors.

You can find the TechDis Ambassadors on Facebook.
You can find the TechDis Ambassadors on Twitter – #jtdambassadors

I’m looking after five projects. All are currently working on their action plans, whilst I work on the logistics for travelling extensively across the south of England ;-).

Also see my previous post: