Simone Carter, who works in the Travel Centre at Worcester Foregate Street for London Midland, won this year’s Outstanding Customer Service award.
‘Simone is an absolute celebrity at Foregate Street,’ said Alex Hynes, former commercial director of London Midland and now Go- Ahead’s Managing Director – Rail Development.
Many passengers and colleagues wrote in nominating Simone for the Outstanding Customer Service award praising her cheerfulness and encyclopaedic knowledge of railway ticketing.
Says Derek Oldale, who works at the station, ‘Having worked as a contractor at Worcester Foregate Street station for a number of years, I saw Simone working at first hand. At all times she behaved in a professional, helpful way to the customers seeking advice and help. No matter what demeanour they entered the travel centre they invariably left feeling they had received her personal attention. In short, her exemplary attitude makes her a great ambassador.’
Simone, who lives in Kidderminster, said the award was unexpected. ‘I want to thank all my customers for nominating me. It feels great. I really hadn’t expected this. I’d like to thank all my colleagues at Worcester Foregate Street as well,’ she said.
Simone is a popular figure in Worcester and her nomination received many endorsements.
Says colleague, Nigel Tolley, ‘Having known Simone for many years, during which time she has held various positions within the rail industry, it makes a refreshing change to find somebody who is really enthusiastic, truly knowledgeable and customer friendly. ‘We all know that with many rail passengers it would appear that their prime objective in life is to wear into the ground any member of staff that they stumble upon. However, they have met their match with Simone and within minutes admit defeat as it would appear impossible to wipe the smile off her face and stop her friendly banter.’
Andy Milne, editor of RailStaff, who lives in Herefordshire and has used Worcester Foregate Street, said, ‘People like Simone Carter are the backbone of the railway. Both her skill, her kindness and generosity of spirit are an example and inspiration to all.
‘This award is highly deserved and the fact it was endorsed by so many passengers and other staff is testament to a successful career and great personal achievement. This award means Worcester Foregate Street has to be one of the most friendly railway stations in Britain.’
Alex Hynes added, ‘Our 10,000 rail staff do an excellent job providing high levels of customer service ever day and thinking like a passenger to provide a good end to end journey. We run 3700 services every day and that just wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and dedication of our staff.’
Govia, the partnership between Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis, sponsored the Outstanding Customer Service award. In existence for over 15 years, Govia operates the London Midland, Southeastern and Southern rail franchises.
London Midland operates train services through the heart of England from London to Birmingham, the Midlands, Liverpool and Worcester Foregate Street. Between them these rail companies are responsible for over 5,500 train services a day.
All the three companies were in the lead at the London Olympics carrying millions of passengers to and from the games. Staff working round the clock demonstrated high levels of customer care and helped make the London Olympics perhaps the most remarkable in history.
Claudio Marcolongo of London Underground Says Mike Guy, ‘Claudio consistently demonstrates World Class customer service and goes out of his way to help customers and his colleagues.
‘Recently Claudio calmed down a young customer who was very distressed after losing her belongings including her passport when pick pocketed. Speaking fluent Italian, Claudio was able to liaise with the customer, BTP. By telephone he reassured the young girl’s mother in Italy that he would take care of the situation.
‘In his own time he supported the customer further by taking her to the Italian consulate to gain papers to allow her to travel home to Italy as her passport was lost. BTP were very complimentary about Claudio’s intervention and the customer truly did receive absolute ‘World Class’ service.
‘Claudio was there for the customer in what was a desperate situation. This is not the first occasion Claudio has provided assistance to customers beyond his duty and this was typical of his commitment to customer service…Claudio is a star and a role model for the railway industry.’
Paul Farnes of Virgin Trains
A passenger, Sarah, said the following about Paul Farnes. ‘The day I met him I was travelling home from Daniel’s appointment at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. It was the first time I had made this journey via train. Having not travelled by train for years, or ever with a baby for that matter, let alone a baby with Daniel’s numerous problems.
‘I was nervous and unsure what to expect. Due to my lovely little boy’s syndrome he looks very different from other babies. This often causes a lot of unwanted attention, being stared at, comments and so on. I felt quite uncomfortable to say the least on the journey home and was also struggling with my pushchair and a rucksack packed full and heavy with all of the things that have to accompany Daniel.
‘As the distance is so far, the costs are simply not possible for friends or family members, particularly given the amount of trips we need to make so I had no one to help.
‘When he spotted me, Paul not only moved me to first class, but also provided me with refreshments. I was not stared at in first class, it was much quieter and there was a table I could use for Daniel’s toys to keep him amused.
As well as this Paul carried all of my things for me and also helped me off the train with everything at the other end so I would not struggle. He went out of his way to ensure our comfort and to make things easier for us. This made what had started out as a stressful journey into a fantastic one for both me and Daniel.
‘I was touched to the point of tears by his kindness as our situation usually just warrants people staring, no one offers to help let alone go to the trouble Paul has.
‘Paul is a credit to your company and I want both him and you to know how much this means to me.’