Bread of Heaven

A couple of years ago this blog fell silent for a month or so. No, it was not one of my extended holidays (if, only), but rather involved me being otherwise occupied around the death of my father. Well, my recent enforced silence for the last month or so has been for very similar reasons – my mother died and I have been away trying to sort things out. I have tended to keep the personal and private out of these blogs, but some explanation for such lack of commentary is I think appropriate.

It also offers me a short opportunity to reflect on the vagaries of our service economy.  In the aftermath of her death I have been struck by the very sympathetic and understanding handling by many businesses as I had to re-arrange my personal travel and make other arrangements associated with the situation. Sudden changes were readily and easily accommodated by Avis and FlyBe, but Easyjet have proved to be slow, uncommunicative and totally useless.  One suspects Ryanair might have been better than them, which is saying something. The utilities and the banks have been great and generally easy to deal with – a special mention for Swalec and Dwr Cymru who were exceptional.

This pattern of variability is one I have got used to through trying to exercise my power of attorney. Every bank or building society or government department seemed to have a different approach. Virtually all of the individuals that I had to deal with were friendly and understanding, but you could tell that many of them were as frustrated at their organisation’s systems as I was. Why do businesses succeed in making staff and customers alike hate their ways of working? A special mention here for the Principality who were dreadful beyond belief (but as noted, I exempt the people I dealt with in the branches), but what should I expect from an organisation with that name?

What puzzles me is that I know my circumstances are not unique – these things come to most of us during our lives and indeed colleagues are and have gone through the same things and make the same reflections – and that companies and organizations are confronted with the same situations over and over again. So why do some of them screw up so badly, so often?

Anyhow, I am back. Sadder.

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
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2 Responses to Bread of Heaven

  1. Pingback: Lampeter Food Festival | Stirlingretail

  2. Pingback: Easy, it Ain’t | Stirlingretail

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