The Lost Property Office

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The Lost Property Office - 2011/04/11

Last week I gave a talk in Stroud. Well, three talks, actually. Two were my regular juggling talk, and one was a maths talk. They seemed to go well, with lots of nice comments from both the teachers and the students.

It was a warm, sunny day, so as my host was going to be busy for an hour or so before taking me back to the station (an arrangement we had agreed in advance, and with which I was perfectly content) I decided to walk, taking advantage of the Spring weather.

I wore my coat, since that was the easiest way to carry it, but removed and carried my jumper. I didn't put it in my bag, it didn't really seem worth it.

At the station I bought my ticket, crossed the bridge to the platform, put down my bag and jumper, took off my coat, and settled down to check my email and do some web browsing. When the train arrived on time, ten minutes later, I collected everything and boarded the train.

Arriving into Cheltenham to change trains I gathered my things, but the jumper was missing.

That was pretty upsetting, really. It was a nice jumper, and I was sure I would need it again in the coming weeks.

There were only a few minutes before my next train left, but I dashed up to the ticket office to ask if they could give me the number for Stroud station so I could see if it on the patform. I'd checked the train, there was pretty much no chance ever of recovering it unless it was on the platform, or someone had handed it in.

But no, they couldn't give me the number, they could only give me the central enquiries number. They, in turn, said that it wasn't possible to phone the station, that I had to wait at least two days, and then phone the central Lost and Found department.

In Bristol.

But wait. If there's any change of recovering the jumper it will be sitting on the platform at Stroud, or handed in at the desk in Stroud. There is no point at all in waiting two days and phoning Bristol. There is effectively no chance of it turning up there.

Can't someone just look out the window?


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So in the devising of a centralised lost property system - which I appreciate is important and necessary - they have removed the one opportunity I have to recover my jumper. Administrative convenience has again triumphed over serving the customer.

So if you're in business, ask yourself this. Do your administrative procedures serve your customers' needs, or yours? For whose benefit are they in place?

If a process is not serving your customer, it's costing you business.

Can you afford it?

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