I’ve long thought of First Capital Connect’s ‘thamselink’ service as the train line that time forgot. So I was quite surprised earlier this year when they launched a potentially great Twitter service, promising that, if you tell them where you travel to and from, they will direct tweet service announcements that affect your journey.
The direct tweets generate and email and a text message to give me more-or-less instant notification of problems, so I can plan around them. This is a great customer service/marketing promise… I signed up.
I’ve since had all kinds of updates about stuff happening at opposite ends of their service, on trains that have no connection with my own little branch line. Oh well, you come to expect disappointment from train services I guess. Not the end of the world, just somewhat spammy.
This week, I’ve tried to use their trains on four separate occasions, only to discover that, for reasons that have gone unexplained (unexpected autumn leaf falls?), they have been unable to offer trains. Or, it seems, notifications on their twitter feed.
I’d never seek to discourage organisations from trying new things to improve their customer service or perception – and I strongly believe that the types of service messages First Capital Connect promised show enormous promise.
But if you make a promise, you have to keep it.
My frustration at the cancelled trains is severely compounded by the failure of the train company to keep their notification promise. I’d not have like the cancellation anyway, but would have been impressed with their ability to advise me ahead of time and therfore allow me to make other plans.
In the language of tweets, #fail
*===* UPDATE *===*
(12th November, noon) – I’ve found out why First Capital Connect are in such a bad way: they’re suffering from industrial action. They’ve even devised a new timetable. They just haven’t bothered to tell any of their twitter followers (to my knowledge) about this. Genius.
Oh – and it turns out compensation can be claimed at their website. Maybe that’s why they’re not telling anyone?