Key Advice Blog

Archive for July 2010

There is nothing like a trip abroad to experience the vast range of customer service in the travel industry – and draw comparisons. You can get everything from the brilliant to the beastly all within a few metres of each other. My trips to Canada usually involve a connection in Toronto with everything from several hours to minutes between flights! There is one thing that stands out – those companies and employees willing to go the extra mile delivering customer service.

Recently, faced with a 8 hour delay between flights, I booked (online) a spa time-out at the Sheraton Toronto Airport. When I arrived, after a delicious lunch service, I was met by a quizzical look from the check in staff saying the spa, which rented space from them was under new ownership and rennovations. I explained I had booked it via a link on their website, had received a confirmation and was disappointed. The young lady on staff quickly started calling neighbouring hotels, booked me into another (Delta) hotel’s spa and arranged free limo service for me. Now that’s above and beyond. 

Meanwhile, back in the airport, Thomas Cook staff showed me the other end of the customer service spectrum. I was refused the option to change my seat at check in, after being told that that is where I’d have to do it, when I asked upon departure. Staff told me I’d have to ask at the desk in the departures lounge. That woman rudely told me no. So after being bounced from one desk to another, even though I paid for my seat alocation, not only was I refused the option to change, I refused in a rude manner.

Perhaps they Thomas Cook ground staff need to walk across the road to the Sheraton check-in desk and see how it can be done. In the same amount of time, with the same amount of energy. And, now the Sheraton have a postive review on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter and here.

It’s only a short trip from customer complaint to customer cudos – and it’s worth it.

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10 Customer Service Tips

Why do journalists make such great fiction writers? The answer lies in five simple words – principles really – the 5Ws. Who? What? Why? Where? When? The most brilliant recent example of this is the best-selling Millennium Trilogy by Swedish journalist-turned-fiction- writer Stieg Larsson, now deceased. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played with Fire. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Intrigued?


Larsson’s unlikely heroine – a tiny, tattooed, techno geek called Lisbeth Salendar –immediately piques one’s curiosity. Mix in an intense investigative journalist, Carl Mikael Blomkvist (himself?), who knows no boundaries in turning over stones. Blend in criminals, spies and gangs in plots that twist and turn, and you are hooked.

by Stieg Larsson

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The Trilogy sees the unlikely duo working in tandem, often virtually, to unravel murder mysteries, political plots and subversive Swedish authorities. The parallels to the decades-old unsolved murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme make it hard to see a clear divide between fact and fiction. This blurring is a big draw; I read all three back-to-back.


The trilogy begins with ‘Tattoo, where Blomkvist and Salendar meet to solve a decades-old missing girl story. One mystery gives birth to another, and in ‘Fire, Salendar’s disappearance leads the ever-inquisitive journalist down another path. It all comes to a head in ‘Hornet’s Nest. Or does it? Each one begins with you asking why and then ends with another unanswered question, leaving you craving more.


The story behind the stories is just as intriguing. Stieg Larsson, Swedish journalist-turned- fiction-writer, died without a will shortly after giving manuscripts to his publisher. His family is now preventing his long-time partner from publishing the fourth novel, which she possesses on his computer. Sweden is now firmly on the minds of millions of readers and on the literary global map.


Sadly, Larsson’s mysteries will remain unsolved – despite an insatiable global appetite. The prolonged publishing rights battle means we will have to be satisfied with movie versions – for the time being.

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The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Originally published in Sweden by Norstedt Agency and translated by Reg Keeland

Translated versions

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest

Published in GB 2008, 2009, 2010 by MacLehose Press

Award winning

*Title spellings change with publishers.


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