‘Oh, for Covid’s sake’ let’s stop blaming bad service on the virus, be honest and crack on

Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins

Founder of Pimlico Plumbers and Business Leader Columnist, Charlie Mullins, discusses the impact Covid has had on customer service – and why we should stop blaming the virus for everything.

A constant diet of Covid is starving the nation of hope. It has got to the stage that every little thing that happens is blamed on the coronavirus.

This virus blame culture has echoes of Little Britain: “Can I speak to a customer services rep?” “Covid says ‘no’.”

Stuck on the phone waiting to speak to your bank? Covid! Trapped in a never-ending traffic jam? It’s the virus; tripped over the cat and fell down the stairs? ‘Oh, for Covid’s sake!’

The only way we are going to get over the illness that has laid the country up is if we stop having the virus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I don’t for one minute want to suggest the coronavirus is not real or to minimise the damage it has done to the country, and to people’s lives, but it’s time to stop blaming every little thing on the disease.

If Covid was a person you could start to feel a bit sorry for it.

It’s bad enough being forced to wait on the phone for hours listening to some tuneless dirge, but now that rotten service is routinely said to be ‘due to Covid’ – it makes my head explode!

New research has found that I’m not the only one spitting feathers about this either.

The UK Institute of Customer Service has found consumers were initially tolerant of delays but now they’ve had enough. The number of complaints is at its highest since 2009.

On the list of culprits are what you’d expect: transport, local public services – such as GP surgeries, councils and police services, and telecommunications.

A quarter of the 10,000 people surveyed said that the organisation in question had blamed poor service on the virus.

I’m glad to say that Pimlico can’t be tarred with the same brush. The quality of our customer service is renowned, and we made a conscious effort to make sure our standards have remained high throughout the pandemic.

Our clients expect the best and our customer service and bookings teams continue to excel – which is why we have just recorded our best year ever.

You only have to see our feedback to know our engineers remain not only reliable, but also punctual.

So, if you can get a tradesperson on time, so why can’t you get through to your bank quickly or get a delivery on time?

The reasons are the same as ever; badly run companies with poorly treated staff under perform. They should be called out on their poor performance and not allowed to carry on the hiding behind this blanket excuse because it’s holding the country back.

Dare I suggest that part of the problem here is this working from home culture, where people aren’t invested in their company or work anymore?

It’s simply not good enough; shoddy service is shoddy service. Customers appreciate honesty and at Pimlico we’re known for being upfront with ours, about everything. Other companies could do much worse than follow our example and will need to shape up to survive in the post-lockdown world.

Covid is all too real, but some of the after effects are clearly psychological. The fear factor deterring people re-entering the workplace, or getting back on public transport, is being compounded by this obsession.

Eating the same thing every day is unhealthy and swallowing the Covid excuse every day is becoming unpalatable.
It’s time we leavened our diet with some honesty and positivity, so we can all start to head outside to enjoy the slightly fresher air and begin anew.