"You can please some of the people all of the time...

…and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”, these are very wise words indeed from poet John Lydgate. Although occasionally I feel like it would be nice to just please any of the people any of the time.

I arrived at work this Monday morning and dug into my email inbox as I always do. Most mornings, and particularly after the weekend, I have a delightful selection of new messages; it’s a bit like opening that label-less tin you found at the back of your cupboard – you have no idea what could be in it but you’re always hopeful that it might be something tasty!  

Between you and me, I much prefer this time of day and I’d even go so far as to say that it’s my favourite time of day. That’s because, on the balance of probability, the majority of these emails will be from customers rather than my colleagues (they’re a pretty good bunch but they tend not to email me about anything interesting or unusual). Don’t get me wrong though it’s not always the nice, warm, lovely stuff but, if it’s not, I’m usually able to do something about it. After all that’s what I’m here for.  

Lost at the starting line

Although it exasperates me when something which I wholeheartedly believe to be so categorically positive that no one could possibly turn it into something negative, is turned into something negative. When you do what I do you develop an in-built radar for potential problems, you learn when to expect feedback or criticism and you learn how you might be able to turn things round in a constructive way.  But sometimes what you read is so narrow minded or utterly bizarre that you’re lost at the starting line! 

For example, I’m almost certain that when we secured funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery to reinvigorate some of our canal and riverbank hedgerows, thereby providing better shelter and food for many threatened species, not one of us thought this was a bad news story. Nope, we certainly didn’t expect to hear back from someone who was very concerned to hear that we were extending and filling the gaps in hedges. You see, we would be spoiling their views of the countryside from the waterways whilst cruising and devaluing their amenity. Oh, and of course, wildlife will have to simply evolve and adapt as it always has…

Another example, which I think is permanently etched into my consciousness, has to be the phone call taken by my team from a man who was so incensed by our new sponsored licence disc holders that his call lasted almost an hour. To say he was less than enamoured by the smiling lady on the reverse of his new disc holder is an understatement. We did offer to send him out some plain holders during the first five minutes of the conversation but he just kept going, hardly coming up for breath at all. So what can you do, other than listen?

Distrust and antipathy

Sometimes even the simplest daily task we undertake can evoke such cynicism you wouldn’t believe as you’ll see from the photo of this customer’s response to our random insurance check.  Yes, it really is random, ‘proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason , or pattern’, like being picked out of a hat. I’d say that this response just begs the question, what has this customer done to think that it would have been anything other than a random selection?!

And then, of course, you just have the few people who you’ll never please any of the time. I’m sure that I’ll die trying but at least if I fail in some small way I may have made them happy by not making them happy, thus reinforcing their opinion that we are all useless. Still, I will know that I’ve tried.

This reminds me of a phone call we took recently from a bemused gentleman. He had lived in blissful ignorance, thinking that his boat was simply named after a small village in North Wales called Llamedos…that was until someone pointed out to him what happens when you read it backwards. Strangely enough we have quite a few boats registered with the same or very similar names.

Last date edited: 10 June 2013

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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