Acsa is doing something right

2009-08-12 00:00

FOR the past few years, whenever I have felt vindictive and ready to nail someone or other for bad service and generally messing the consumer about, I have found a ready supply of things to get heated about from the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa).

But, to be fair, I have found things changing at Acsa. And I reckon it’s time I took a break from complaining about them to give them a pat on the back.

Last week, I flew up to Johannesburg and when I landed at OR Tambo Airport I made my way to the gents’ lavatories in the baggage collection hall.

As I walked in, a smartly dressed fellow brandishing a yellow duster and a bottle of disinfectant spray greeted me with a big smile and said: “Welcome to my office sir, may I recommend urinal number three to your right?”

When I had done with urinal number three, which was sparkling clean, I moved towards the wash basins and after washing my hands, there he was again, laying a paper towel next to me to dry my hands with.

As I left his stunningly clean restroom, he said: “Thanks for visiting my office sir, please call again.”

I walked out of the airport feeling great, with a big smile on my face.

Now, this was not the first time I have experienced service like that in Acsa lavatories. It was just the most impressive. And best of all, there wasn’t a telltale saucer in the corner with a few coins in it suggesting that what this person really wanted was a tip.

I have found the same sort of service from the Acsa help desks — friendly, attentive people.

Now, the point I am making is that service like this, at this lowest possible level, doesn’t just happen because Acsa happened to employ some person who had decided on his own to turn a restroom into a boardroom and fall over himself giving a level of service that far exceeds any sort of consumer expectation.

It happens because somewhere in Acsa somebody has got the message that great service starts right at the bottom. Right at the coalface. And those people have clearly been very well trained. Somebody is doing a great training job and in my opinion should be in line for the Marketer of the Year Award.

Frankly, Acsa has taken a beating from the media over inconveniences and borderline chaos with all the pre-2010 construction work going on. And an even bigger beating from perceptions that every cent of those exorbitant airport taxes that are loaded onto our airfares all go to Acsa. Which they don’t. And Acsa certainly needs to do a lot more to show the consumer that it is not responsible for all that extra cost.

But, it seems to me that Acsa is getting its act together. Airports are beginning to up their service delivery game. They’re mostly clean and if their lavatories are anything to go by, my bet is we can expect our airports to become world class.

Now, if they would only do something about the horrendously expensive parking fees, they would really be giving the consumer what the consumer wants.

Because that smile on my face created by a wonderful person who took so much pride in keeping lavatories clean, disappeared when I had to practically take a second bond on my house to get my car out of the parking garage.

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