Last December I moved into a new-build apartment on the north side of Oxford just a ten minute drive away from the Littlemore headquarters of the St Barnabas Society. The apartment itself is really lovely and the location is ideal but inevitably there have been snagging issues and not all of them have been dealt with promptly and efficiently. On many occasions I have been left wondering if the days of good old customer service are well and truly over? Certainly it is no longer the case that “the customer is always right.” Quite why builders and tradesmen are incapable of giving you a set time for a job to be done escapes me! Instead you are given a window of time spanning at least half a day based upon the bold assumption that you are able take time off work whenever the need arises and just twiddle your thumbs waiting for someone to turn up and do the job required. To say that it is frustrating is the understatement of the century!
However I can point you to a place which bucks the modern trend and where cheerful and helpful customer service is alive and kicking. It is Oxford Parkway Railway Station! Since becoming Director this little oasis has become my second home. It is the starting point for the many journeys that I have to make to London during the course of the year. The staff there are amazing, including those who work in Little Italy, the station coffee shop. They smile, they make you welcome, they are always willing to help and they remember who you are! Being dressed as a priest helps a little but the whole experience makes travelling by rail from Oxford to London Marylebone an absolute pleasure, despite a regular train full of commuters to and from Bicester Village!
So as the summer holiday period comes to an end I want to publicly pay tribute to the wonderful men and women who work at Oxford Parkway and who have helped to make it a bright light upon an otherwise dull horizon. They show each day not only that customer service is far from dead, even if in today’s world it is a rarity, but also how at its best it brightens people’s lives and lifts their spirits! Thank you – all of you- for the jobs you do so well! The great railway enthusiast, Sir John Betjeman, would have been very proud of you! I am, for once, a very satisfied customer!