PE’s Hidden Value At The Dogs

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How many times have you made an advance booking for an event ticket, a restaurant reservation or a hotel room only to arrive on the day to find your name is “not in the system”? How many times have the front line staff sought to caste blame on you or others rather than take immediate steps to resolve the problem and display empathy? How many times have you been turned away when you were eagerly looking forward to that experience vowing never to return in future? How many times has it been a major pain in the backside to ensure the charges have been reversed seamlessly to your credit card?

On Saturday night, I found an outstanding customer experience in the most unlikely of settings, Wimbledon greyhound track, host of the Greyhound Derby and owned by private equity firm, Risk Capital Partners. Arriving to find my family “not in the system” or in Wimbledon’s case, “not on the list”, two enthusiastic front line staff (Anita and Sonny) stepped in to help with simple proactive suggestions.

Sonny and Anita: “Pay cash for alternative tickets, we’ll run to our booking office and return with a receipt, personally email our central reservations with full instructions asking them to rapidly resolve the problem. In addition, we will follow up in their opening hours to ensure a rapid reversing of charges and you won’t need to do a thing. Is that OK? Is there anything else we can do to ensure that you have a fabulous night?

Me: “No. That would be wonderful if you can accomplish that.”

I am called this morning by their Central Reservations to be told that the problem was human error (incorrectly spelling our name) and all charges are being immediately reversed.

Applying common sense, taking ownership, displaying empathy and disciplined follow up are all very simple human tasks. Yet what Sonny and Anita displayed is so rare in my experience today.

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Even more so, if I told you that they are working in a business, whose private equity owners want to shutter the business and is in the midst of a political fire storm.

None of us want to swap jobs with their predicament. Indeed, I would go as far to suggest that their responsiveness to my problem had little or nothing to do with their circumstances. They are two enthusiastic, proactive and hard working employees, who have the skills and volition to do the right thing at the right time. To use their eyes and not rely on redundant operating policies and procedures.

Many seemingly successful companies get in the way of their employees displaying their talents. It destroys customer goodwill, which in turn harms loyalty, repeat business and value creation.  When you see a business fighting for survival but with a bedrock of enthusiastic employees displaying great customer service perhaps there is value where the existing owners don’t see it?

If you are a Sponsor with a penchant for a turnaround, you could no worse than organise a night out at Wimbledon dogs. Is that helpful Mr Moulton?

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

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