Word reaches Tubeworker HQ that the all-bells-and-whistles "Customer Service Training" that all station staff will be put through (subjected to?) during the course of 2015 is costing LU £4.2 million.
Yes, you read that right folks, our employer is paying a private, external company millions of pounds to train us in how to "let our personalities shine through" and "share what we know" (just two of the platitudes that make up the cringeworthy "Customer Value Proposition" of the Brave New World of Fit for the Future).
And it's doing this at a time when it's making cuts to its own training department that will see skilled, in-house trainers - who could be delivering this training themselves - lose their jobs.
Station jobs on the railway are customer-facing, and they do require certain interpersonal skills (and even a degree of "performance") that the role-play-based training models employed by "Interact" (the company delivering the training, which is staffed mainly by actors) can help with. But why couldn't LU's own trainers facilitate those role plays, bringing the added benefit of genuine expertise and experience relating to our actual jobs in the transport industry (rather than "try and smile more"-type, condescending generalities)?
The subtext of the company's renewed emphasis on the performative, interpersonal aspects of customer service is clear: if customers aren't satisfied, it must be because we're not smiling enough, or not using the right body language, or not using the right vocal inflections (all suggestions the external trainers have apparently made to station staff currently undertaking the course). Undoubtedly we can all work to improve our presentation and communication skills, but the prerequisite for providing quality service is adequate levels of staff. If there are nearly 1,000 fewer frontline staff on stations, the quality of service will deteriorate. It's as simple as that.