March 20, 2006

Odiham's War

Someone told me a while ago that it pays to whinge! I can't say I'm going to argue with that, as a nation it's something that most of us Brits are quite good at, and in a world where customer service should be the backbone of any successful business (in my view) if you're not happy about something you should speak up. As someone who is trying to run their own business it seems obvious - whereas we are always looking for new customers what's the point if you can't hang on to them when you find them? So we do everything we can to make our customers feel good about giving us their money and when we do mess up, because lets be honest, everyone does at some time or another, we do everything we can to fix it and make that customer come back to us again, even if sometimes that means going the extra mile or two!

Business is hard at the moment for a million and one reasons, but as a consequence I find that I'm turning into a right miserable old cow! The upshot of that is complaining about things comes so much easier, and has a certain therapeutic effect! I can't fix the things that I need to fix overnight; so making a mountain out of a molehill over things I can do something about makes me feel better.

The latest victim was the location manager of the Foyles War film crew that visited our sleepy little village recently. We were given a few days notice of their intention to spend around half a dozen days/nights over a two week period filming in our village and very close to our home. So close in fact that we had a huge klieg light hanging over our garden wall, bouncers outside our front door, a myriad of cables to navigate our way around every time we wanted to leave our house and numerous, very inconvenient, requests to turn various lights on or off in the house depending on the shot that they were after.

If I was in a happier place right now I may have got a little excited at the thought of a film crew at our front door, and our house (and business) making it onto the small screen but on another of many bad days they seemed like fair game for a complaint.

I wrote a very sternly worded letter to the location manager and enquired about compensation for the business's affected by their disruption (they closed off just about every public parking space in the village in the process of filming so we may as well of not opened our little gift shop on the days they were there for the amount of customers there were!) So he came to visit to say sorry, which I had to admire, and it was worth it for them because for the sake of letting me have a ten-minute rant and presenting me with a free Foyles War DVDand a signed photo of the star of the show my anger was sated. Which just goes to show how easily people can be pleased. I have a DVD of a TV series that I've never shown any interest in before (and I'm sorry to say but beyond the episode that features our house I probably never will again) and a signed photo of someone I had barely heard of before but I'm happy now. I guess complaining isn't so much about what you get from it as what you get out of it. Sometimes all you need to do to make someone happy is to listen to them.

So look out for an episode called 'Bleak Midwinter' due to be shown in the UK in September, featuring the sleepy little village of Odiham and the back of our house! Fame at last?

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