Council Chair Says Customer Service Needs To Improve

The chairman of Council says Islands’ businesses need to do more to ensure visitors have a good experience.

It follows a Tourist Information Centre report that there were eighteen complaints last season, many of which relate to alleged attitude being displayed by staff in local businesses.

Sophie Hughes from the TIC said there were plenty of positive comments received too.

Mike Hicks used John F Kennedy’s famous, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” quote to illustrate his point that locals should excel in customer service.

He said we had to, “smarten ourselves up” adding there was a big market out there and we needed to make the expense of getting to Scilly worthwhile.

Cllr Amanda Martin was concerned by reports of visitors getting an unfriendly treatment and she said museum visitors wouldn’t be treated that way.

Amanda said she wanted to return to the days when Scilly was called, “The Friendly Isles.”


18 Responses to Council Chair Says Customer Service Needs To Improve

  1. PAT HICKS December 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Hang on folks.. i am really sorry some of you have had crap accommodation. I have a holiday flat and I’d like to think we look after it and look after our visitors to. i am quite saddened to think that there is still some poor quality holiday properties around , especially over here. what is the tourist board doing about this, are they on the tourist board??..
    Please don’t tar us all with the same brush… most of us are really doing our best for the visitors..
    And please don’t forget respect goes 2 way’s .

  2. Alison December 13, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Good point Greg, that was what I was trying to say I think! I realise the article was saying that visitors were complaining about the attitude of staff in local businesses but we have always found people to be helpful, friendly and cheerful. There are always one or two having a bad day but that would never put us off coming to Scilly. However, if my accommodation was damp and mouldy (we once stayed in a place with slimy trails on the carpet and I discovered a family of slugs one night!!) then that WOULD put me off! All the best to you all for next season…it would take a lot to put us off (even though we come on the Scillonian!)

  3. Greg December 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Again, far more important things to worry about than finding somewhere to relieve yourself when you’re down bar point having a picnic. I’m finding the nearest bush, you carry on steve and get a bladder infection… See a visitors comment above re accommodation standards, maybe a sign that says, ‘Warning! Poor accommodation. Keep clear’ will be more appropriate.

  4. Diane Cidade December 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I’m not saying every nook and cranny in Scilly ought to be labelled – the way it is over here, you only have to walk a couple of metres and the place you’re now standing in has a different name to the spot you were in before. Even new (to Scilly) ambulance drivers have trouble finding certain addresses over here! But I am speaking from my own experiences – you can bet your socks that on any given day with a light breeze, at around 3pm someone will be desperately searching for travel sickness tablets for the boat trip back, and that means a hike up the Health Centre. It’s not ‘charming’ to struggle to find the right way to where you want to go when you’re in a rush to catch the boat, or you think you’ve given yourself enough time to walk up to the airport but can’t find the correct turning off to take. It would be like going to a train station and guessing your way to the correct platform. They use signs on Tresco which I don’t feel are eyesores, but are an encouraging sight when you need reassurance that you’re going the right way, or that you’ve not got long to go.

    Anyway, signs pointing out landmarks or important places aren’t the be all and end all of tourism in Scilly, but as I said before, the little things make a big difference to the general experience visitors have, and that is but one ‘simple’ idea (and yet controversial, naturally) of reducing stress for a lot of people.

  5. steveatt December 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Greg – Please read your comment and think about going to a new place – perhaps having a picnic – cup of tea can of coke – water – Oh whats that feeling in my bladder? I’m so glad I’ve got this rudimentary map and no street signs – not convienient (pun intended).

  6. Nobby Nobbs December 12, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Cllr Ticehurst recently stated in a council meeting that the erection of coloured flags on the quay to make it easier for visitors to know which boat to get to which off island is, and I quote “Abhorrent Mr Chairman”

    You have to shake your head in disbelief and and ask why is this man a councillor for a community who’s whole economy is based upon tourism?

  7. Greg December 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

    The last thing we need are street signs, more clutter to make the eyes sore! That is one of the charms about the islands, exploring the area and finding new places by chance or with navigation via a quaint, rudimentary map available from the TIC or other establishments. This, again, is not the reason why tourist numbers are dropping. I understand that the TIC is hiding under the veil of the IOSSC sign, and I’m surprised that the council didn’t add a new TIC building to the Porthcressa plans, that would have made more sense!

  8. Alison December 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

    As frequent visitors to the islands for the past 10 years we have stayed in some pretty grotty self catering accommodation (dirty, damp and uncared for) before discovering a wonderful place which provides brilliantly for us and our dog so we try to come at least once a year and we wouldn’t go anywhere else! When we stayed in the grot spots we voted with our feet and decided not to book there again…we didn’t complain to the Tourist Information Centre. There must be lots of people like us so I think it is a bit complacent to say there have only been 18 complaints. We have two sets of friends who have had very bad experiences in self catering places…one couple have been put off completely. It is not too much to ask that the accommodation is clean, warm and dry with a comfy bed. (We are not expecting the Hilton!)

  9. Diane Cidade December 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” -Sherlock Holmes

    Little things speak volumes.

    Of course, business owners should always aim to provide a professional service, and perhaps need to be more aware that negative experiences have a ripple-effect: an upset customer will tell ten people about their bad experience, whereas a happy one might tell no one.

    For St. Mary’s in particular, my two pence worth:

    I personally find it worrying that there are complaints being made to the Tourist Information Centre – particularly as at the height of the season, whilst in the middle of town, I will get asked several times in the course of a week where one might find said Tourist Information Centre. Yes, it’s got a flag outside, and two small signs in one of the windows, but on a ‘busy’ road, it doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to see how someone might think it’s JUST the Steamship Company offices in there – the big wooden sign across the front of the building proudly says so. (Out of curiosity, what gets done with these ‘complaints’? And what do the complainants expect will happen?)

    We want/need new visitors to the islands. It’s unfair and maybe even a little short-sighted to treat everyone like they’ve been here before and know the lay of the land. What about a sign post showing people how to get to the museum, and direct them on their way to Old Town and the Health Centre, too, for a start? The footpath to the airport wasn’t clearly marked from the main road when I last checked. The list goes on. Visitors might have a map, but there are little to no street signs. (I realise in Old Town there is a sign for Castle Cottages, but there’s no clear indication that this is how you get to the airport, and this is something else I get asked several times in a ‘season’) No street signs might be very strange to a first time visitor, not to mention an inconvenience if they are short on time because they’re off a cruise ship or on a day trip. We can have street signs and still be ‘quaint’ if that’s what we’re aiming for. I’m happy to speak to someone and give them directions or offer suggestions, but I still think more could be done to help lower the number of wild goose chases which must occur here over the course of a summer.

    Scilly has a wonderful and intriguing story to share, and we’re missing a trick if we don’t try to tell it. The product is good, but it might just need some fresh packaging.

  10. Greg December 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    On the whole, I still don’t think eighteen official complaints is something to be concerned about with regards to tourism. Every tourist location around the globe has its negative reviews, no matter how hard they try! There are just some people who like to complain, we just have to take heed and deal with it as best we can. The odd complaint about people’s attitudes is not the reason why tourist numbers are dropping, we all know the real problem and that has been discussed to death own this site numerous of times…

  11. Rant mister December 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    As a regular visitor to the islands I have been intrigued by the accounts that I have read over the past year, but as an outsider felt that I have no right to comment for fear that justifiable, I would be accused of not knowing the whole story!
    Although from reading the accounts of the Council meetings neither do you islanders!

    I feel that I am able to comment on the service that tourists like me have received while on holiday. Part of the attraction of the islands is without doubt the 1950s feel, the slower pace of life.ect.ect.

    The problem as I see it is to create the balance between the unsophisticated and sometimes worn out accommodation that is offered, which in the past your clientele have accepted as part of the islands undoubted appeal, and charm.
    Time and time again we come back to probable the most beautiful island in the country in spite of the lack of real service and sophistication, afraid that if we do not book the same weeks next year they will be gone!

    Those times are past not only with the current economic situation but with the changing expectations of a younger more demanding visitor.
    What I have read over the last few months makes me feel so sad that the wonderful Isles of Scilly have been let down by a inept team of councillors, who have focused their attention on in house squabbling, and self aggrandisement rather than pulling the community together to face the challenges that we are all facing, less money higher bills and therefore fewer holidays.

    {I get the impression that you are all sick and tired of the constant infighting between Council members and the glaring self interest displayed by some, and don’t need an uninformed patronising outsider telling you this, so sorry]

    However if you want to tackle the failing number of tourists or any of you’re problems you must start with a cohesive and committed community.

    A smile might make me happy for a while but what I really need from a holiday is that just for a week or two I have been treated like I am important enough that you have made the effort. I want to stay in a property at least as comfortable as the one I live in.

    I am stuck in an office looking out on the grim of a city I know why I will be back to the islands [if I am allowed ]

  12. Samual Vimes cmdr December 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Before I lived here I found ‘some’ local businesses incredibly rude to visitors, and having lived here for a number of years not much has changed.
    Without wishing to rain on everyone’s parade there are four businesses I can think of where the staff are just plain rude to visitors and locals alike and I can think of a number of eatery’s where people are often kept waiting, sometimes for up to 45miniutes. If any of these business were on the mainland they would have gone out of business years ago.

  13. steveatt December 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Don’t want to start a war but “is that eighteen people (such a BIG number) are unhappy with how locals’s attitudes are towards tourists in general, not just in the trade industry. ” is an attitude that will kill the tourist industry. I can guarentee that more than 18 are unhappy, it is just these 18 fell slighted enough to make official complaints. I find it hard to believe people would complain to the TIC over locals giving abuse – to me that is a police matter! The article states many of the complaints were over staff attitude – One of my faves is the opening of an extra till at the coop with a nod and a wink to locals so they get there first! – I gotta go and look after my customers – but as a final thought 18 complaints is not brilliant it is 18 too many 18 families who will not return on holiday.

  14. Greg December 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Bill. I think the situation here (if you want to call it a situation) is that eighteen people (such a BIG number) are unhappy with how locals’s attitudes are towards tourists in general, not just in the trade industry. This could be something such as, giving abuse to a tourist for walking in the middle of the road or tutting at someone who wanted their steak put under the grill for another five minutes as it wasn’t to their liking. The fact that staff use a more modern way of relating to customers shouldn’t be deemed by the more mature as being impolite. In most cases, this sort of language is more suited to small cafes, pubs and shops. Granted, in a silver service restaurant or hotel, are more professional approach should be delivered and in most cases it is. Either way, I think eighteen complaints is brilliant considering!

  15. PAT HICKS December 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Think most of us do smile and are mostly very happy/friendly … but we all have off days…
    i would also like to thank Amanda Martin and Richard mccarthy. especially, as i have been told they have been very supportive to individuals….
    it is also nice to find people who take their jobs seriously..

    2013…… the friendly isles

  16. Bill Hiner December 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Perhaps the Council could sponsor some staff training? It’s not natural to be good at customer relations for some people, so let’s help by getting a day’s training organised.
    I hate the “Hi guys”/”No worries”/”Cool” staff phrases that have pervaded our shops and restaurants. We have to be as professional as we can to get visitors back time and time again. (Who are paying a lot of money to get and stay here).
    Our islands are service-based, so let’s get serving correctly and politely!

  17. Steve Raven December 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    It’s ever so simple – all you have to do is smile. Works everytime! 😉

  18. PAT HICKS December 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Well hopefully Amanda when the community can see and feel that the issues concerned are being dealt with .. we will all feel happier and can move on.. it will be a lot happier place and i am sure the community will all pull together…
    Once again thanks to those councilors who have stood by these people and are trying to sort it out…
    these islands are unique and 90 per cent of the community are good honest people who want to carry on living in peace and are very happy to share it with visitors, who might i add become good friends….

    We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.
    2013 will be a good year for changes….