Virgin Atlantic, almost perfect

I was just about to sing my praise about Virgin Atlantic.

As a company, they seem to have perfected the customer experience by streamlining and, in some cases, rethinking the process of travelling by taking service design very seriously. John Stevens talks, also very seriously, about the importance and ways of doing so in this conference paper (pdf).

BUT, why on earth is it, then, that they have an email address online whose sole purpose it is to churn out auto replies like this one:

Thanks for your holiday query.

Experience has shown us that trying to advise on holiday arrangements by e mail is not the most efficient service for you, our customers which is why we will not be responding to e-mails. We would love to talk to you about your holiday, talking to you means we can ask all the right questions to understand what you need and then offer you the best possible service.

If you have a question we haven’t been able to answer in our Frequently Asked Questions pages then don’t hesitate to pick up the telephone and speak to one of our experts on 0844 557 4000 and they will be happy to help with whatever questions you may have.

Speak to you soon
Virgin Holidays Limited. Registered Office: 120 Campden Hill Road, London W8 7AR. Registered in England, No. 1873815.

If you cannot be bothered to reply to customer queries, why put the contact details there in the first place?

Admittedly, I could, no, everyone could spend their entire day drafting useless comments like this one, but unlike most bloody rubbish utility companies, bloody rubbish airlines and bloody rubbish ISPs who do business on the very premise of insulting their customers, Virgin actually seems to get most things right and, thus, it deserves a bit of, um, constructive criticism.

Posted in Design, Travel 3 Comments »

Ethics and innovation; or why ethics is the new black

The science and technology research group at SBS, which I form part of, recently hosted a group of EMBA students from the Technical University of Denmark for a one-day seminar on innovation.

The aim was not to deliver Porter-esque, but rather to provide a set of disruptive tools and empirical tales for thinking differently about ‘normal’ practices and things.

It is always tricky to work around conventions, but it is a rewarding task, nevertheless. (more…)

Posted in Academic, Design, Ethics, Technology No Comments »

Flag Line

It is, of course, beyond dispute that this is the finest looking chair ever designed: “Flag Line” Halyard Lounge (Hans Wegner).

Posted in Design, Love 1 Comment »

On buildings and peoples

Murmansk concrete
A striking difference between countries is to be found in their approach to managing and presenting buildings.

In England you will find the most beautiful Victorian buildings in the poshest areas of London, yet as soon as you enter through the door you are bound to discover the inverse relationship between inside and outside. Behind the perfectly polished facade lies a dump of an interior. I remember living in Lancaster Gate in London W2; on the outside, the building looked like a five-star hotel, whilst inside the place was a dirty firetrap with worn out furniture and wall-to-wall carpets dating back to the 1950s.

In Russia, on the other hand, no matter how run down a building may look from the outside – and, trust me, in parts of the North there is nothing but run down Soviet blocks – the interior will always be clean, tidy and in a far better state than whatever catches the eye from the exterior.

Perhaps it would be a little too rude of me to draw an analogy to people here. Tempting it is though…

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