by Jonathan Mathias
The current hot topic in the UK media is the cold weather, and all the disruption it’s continuing to cause. Special mention to some of our very own JK’ers who are suffering (good luck guys!). I personally didn’t escape the first round of flight cancellations earlier in the month, when what was due to be a special trip to Berlin got grounded at the last minute.
I did, however, get my all my money back and I can appreciate – especially being an even worse flyer than Mr T – that it’s better to ground flights in the interest of safety. What I do not understand is the apparent lack of information communicated to commuters. In my instance, none of the clip-board wielding staff could answer my simple question of whether all refunds would be absolute, so instead I spent over an hour in a queue to be told ‘yes, but we can’t sort that out here, you need to do it online’. Later that day I found myself in some kind of nightmare feedback-loop with the website telling me to call a number and the automated message on the phone line telling me to go to the website, just before disconnecting me. In short, it was a shambles then, just as it is for those poor people at St Pancras and Heathrow now, and things don’t look set to change.
We’re talking about exceptional circumstances and a certain level of disorder is always going to occur, but it seems as there is no central communication policy, with staff being briefed, websites being routinely updated - with comprehensive data instead of just ‘delayed’ – and, hell, maybe some good old press releases. The overarching complaint is lack of information – something which seems so surprising given, for example, how popular and well utilised social media has become with businesses. Indeed, while all these organisations are – understandably – struggling to react to circumstances that are changing very quickly, Twitter would be the obvious medium, yet they don’t seem to be embracing it very well.
When something bad happens, the immediate human response is to try and cover it up, pretend it didn’t happen or stay as quiet about it as possible, hoping that it will just go away. Yet the only way to move on from a disaster is to hold your hands up as soon as possible and be as open and as honest as to what the situation is and what’s going to happen to put it right.
Hopefully, something will be learnt from this recent bout of disruption – let’s face it, it’s snowed the past few years and there was the ash cloud to contend with too, so you’d think it’s about time – and the next time we’re hit with widespread bad weather, we’ll be a little more in-the-know about what’s going on.
Good luck to everyone who’s stranded – hope you make it back in time for Christmas!