Thursday, March 01, 2007

Italy vs Australia - World Cup round 2 (Italian Government vs Qantas)

Had two very interesting and (I originally planned) to be unrelated travel experiences/plans today. First step was to go to the local office of the Italian consulate to register my new daughter for a passport and the second was to go to a Qantas office to have a minor change made to an airline ticket (for the same daughter). So two stops, with two famous pain in the arse bureaucracies. Good chance to see who is worse at customer service - the Italian government or the flying kangaroo. You can see where this is going. The visit to the Italians took 40 minutes including the initial queue up, time with the consul assistant to process a stack of documents, to pay the processing charge and for the admin assistant to add the name of my daughter to mine and my wife's passport. At Qantas it took 40 minutes for a person to put a very small sticker on a ticket. At the Italian embassy every staff member was perpetually talking to someone. There was a turnaround of people and constant flow of documents, issues and responses. At Qantas I counted 8 staff members, sitting at their customer service desks, doing nothing. Not on the phone, not typing on their computers, not doing anything- actually that is not quite true, two of them were talking to each other about clothes shopping. Meanwhile three customers and I sat patiently "waiting for Godot". There was no-one at the Qantas office looking at the situation of customers without service and service agents without customers and doing the obvious thing.

I was not and should not be surprised. As I discussed in this post, their is no customer service culture at Qantas any more. Instead they have a "process" culture. That is a culture based not on "how can I give you the best experience as a traveller" but instead "what is the process that needs to be followed to get these people from A-to-B in the fastest, cheapest, least impactful way."

So in the world cup final of bad bureaucracies Australia has beaten Italy, avenging the outrageous defeat of Australia by Italy in the real world cup. Forza Qantas...

UPDATE - nice/tragic post here on Travelmole from a travel journalist trying to book a "free" frequent flyer ticket with Qantas. My own experience is here

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