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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Mea Culpa

In case you haven't heard about this recent news story take a moment and head over to CBC and read this. Does it make you angry? Upset? Frustrated? Why? Have you had a similar experience with Marine Atlantic or some other Government service provider?

 Throughout the private sector business' have their own customer service struggles, but they generally can't hold a candle to government offices or crown corporations when it comes to bad customer service. Generally speaking government offices like Motor Registration don't care if you leave happy or frustrated just as long as you leave. Don't misunderstand my comments as an attack on government employees. I have been served by some very pleasant government staff in various departments and crown corporations at both Provincial and Federal levels, including Motor Registration. Their focus is very rarely on customer service and Marine Atlantic is often the epitome of this unfortunate missed opportunity.

Crown Corporations seem to see their objective as providing basic service for minimal cost, period. Marine Atlantic is a tough sell to folks even when they make positive news cycles for any number of reasons usually related to lack of funding, but the funny thing is that good customer service generally doesn't cost money and yet they still repeatedly screw it up.

To get back to this most recent fiasco Marine Atlantic has managed to once again piss off a huge number of people for something that could have easily been avoided. A certified service dog traveling with a veteran was almost denied entry to the ferry and then harassed continuously for the duration of the voyage. Once the story broke this was bad news for the PR folks at MA but bless their hearts they went and made it worse.

After hearing of the incident MA senior staff should have immediately contacted the gentleman in question and profusely apologized and then went to the media with their mea culpa. Take the blame and the responsibility for what happened, say that policy will change and it will never happen again. End of story. Right? Wrong.

Instead of begging for forgiveness the MA VP for "customer experience" (whatever that's supposed to mean) spoke to CBC to say things like "
"At its root, we do not have a clear definition of what a service animal is," said Barnes. 
"We talked a lot about the need for a better understanding of the issues involved and the struggles and challenges faced by people with PTSD and this whole new emerging area of service animals for atypical or non-traditional kinds of support."
He said that while most people are familiar with service dogs working in the role of a seeing eye dog, some people are still learning about service animals providing other types of support.
Barnes said that Marine Atlantic front-line employees receive training every two years on how to support passengers with disabilities.
His comments should have been heavy with apology in every fashion possible, but they were not.

The public can be fooled by slick campaigns and fast talkers for sure, but most of the time a genuine apology will take care of all but the most egregious customer service problems. It costs nothing but honesty and sincerity. Unfortunately it appears that those are a couple of things Marine Atlantic just can't afford. 


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