Thursday, December 11, 2014
Monday, December 08, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
|Open Business: File under business strategy...|
If you want them to agree with what you think your brand is about you have to behave in a way consistent with that position - and that is driven by purpose. Know your purpose and the rest becomes easy. (Chapter One of The 10 Principles of Open Business is dedicated to exactly this).
This sometimes gets lost in the life of a brand. But when one is starting out it has to be the very start point. And that's what last night's broadcast of BBC1's The Apprentice entirely missed.
To create a brand from scratch FIRST you must decide what it is for; what is its purpose - what does it stand for?
Neither of the teams last night started there - and that's why they struggled to align a name, a label, a billboard and a TV ad in any kind of coherent way. This was something Lord Sugar didn't bother pointing out (banging on about product first as if had one of the teams created something that tasted really nice it would have done its own branding and sold itself to the room of ad execs).
It's simple really:
1. Choose purpose: (eg Helps you tackle life's adventures head on)
2. Come up with a name to reflect that: (eg Red Bull)
3. Give it a taste and colour to reflect that (Caffeine boosted, natural zingy stuff, you get the idea)
4. Do things that reflect the message (jump from balloons in space)
5. Now story board that TV ad...
There are lessons in this for anyone tackling something new - whether it be products and services or developing a brand. I only wish 'business TV' like The Apprentice would do a better job of keeping up.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Communication. The act of communion with another soul. Isn't it?
Yes, I know there are other definitions. But this is the oldest. It precedes the broadcast age.
Interesting too that the term communication comes from the Latin "Communicare" which literally means, To Share. (I'd be fascinated to learn the root in other languages via your comments, please)
I'm interested because I'm wondering if communication in business needs calling out as the 'sharing with others' it actually is rather than the 'broadcasting a pov to others' it regularly defaults to.
Communication as a term has been so misused and abused by an industry bent on getting its message into your brain (doing something to you, rather than with you) that the true meaning has been lost to the point where we have to use terms such as 'collaboration' to define what we mean by genuine communication.
When we connect, we lower the cost of action. This is because we talk to each other and talking to each other enables us to share in the act of making new things.
Those things are new products, new services, new ideas or new processes. Each is an output of what we call collaboration. But perhaps once we get over and out of our broadcast habits we'll be able to call it plain and simple communication once again.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
|There's work to be done on Customer Experience here...|
But the game changed. And Marks & Spencer didn't.
They left their customer experience back in the 20th century while the rest of us (their customers included) came to expect more. They came to expect customer-led experiences - those that seek to resolve a customer's issue, that understand the value of that customer, that know who that customer is at each touch point.
I hadn't had a good run with M&S. Three successive fails across different parts of their business (poor flowers, dodgy suit, terrible food) had led me to making a make or break call with their executive office. It was very difficult to raise a complaint in the first place because I tried to do it on an iPad. Their model is still PC first. oh dear.
But I don't want to bang on about that. When I told them this was their last chance to retain me (after multiple calls and channel switches) they sent me a £50 gift voucher.
I went back to shopping in my nearest store for food on a Saturday.
And then I made the mistake of ordering some clothes online.
The first package came. On time. Trouble was a pair of jeans among the items had the security tag still attached - you know, the sort that covers your world in dye if you try to remove it with the wrong equipment.
So I fired off a complaint (via a pc, lesson learned) and pointed out that the reason I shopped online is that I don't have time to visit the nearest clothes store (30 miles from my home) so can you please try to resolve this without me having to attend? Maybe you could send someone round when doing deliveries with a security tag remover, I reasoned?
The computer said no. They offered me (seriously) a £5 gift token. I told them this is not about money, this is about serving customer need. By not bothering to check that they had removed the security tag, no doubt their deliveries were a tiny bit more efficient. The cost of that 'improvement' had been passed on to me. The cost of fixing their failing (my time and travel) was entirely to be borne by the customer (sans £5 gift voucher).
I'm lucky enough to be paid a tad more than £5 an hour (which is the minimum my resolving the issue would cost) so I didn't think this a good trade off.
Scarily, I had also ordered a new suit from M&S (yes I know...) and said in my last comms to M&S customer service that I was seriously worried about how the suit may turn up now...
You know what I'm going to say next, right? The suit arrived the next day, complete with... you've guessed it... security tag on the jacket!
I started the inevitable and painful complaint process again... They were sorry. This time a £10 gift voucher.
It really isn't about the money. I just want the product I have paid for in a fit-for-purpose-state without the need for me to expend any additional time and money of my own in resolving what is properly the company's issue to fix, not mine!
Isn't that how we all feel now? Isn't that what we all expect?
A series of further exchanges have followed with offers of next day delivery but a continued insistence that I must send the items back before they will send replacements. Well (I have pointed out) I'm sorry but I need the suit for a wedding next Saturday. If I keep hold of it I can (as a last resort) drive to my nearest store and get them to remove the tag). If I send it back I have absolutely zero evidence that M&S is capable of sending me the item in time - and crucially - without a bloody security tag attached. In fact, all my personal experience points to the fact that at least one item per package will have a security tag attached.
The bottom line here is that M&S is using cash to pay off annoyed customers rather than investing in building a customer-centric and device agnostic approach to customer experience.
Now - let me go seek out the head of customer experience and point them this way...
UPDATE October 23, 2014: Tracked down the relevant person on Linkedin who responded swiftly to tell me they'd be picking this up at work.
Given how short I was on time now, I drove 30 miles to my nearest clothing store on Sunday to get the tags removed. This I felt compelled to do despite it being the day of my daughter's birthday party. Parents will understand how little time I had to spare - but thanks to M&S fails I had to spend 90 minutes of the little I had fixing their screw up.
The people in the store were kind and listened. They couldn't understand how the items came to be tagged. Indeed in the case of the jeans, they don't tag them in store, let alone in distribution warehouses.
They wanted to offer me something (yes, vouchers) but I declined because I have now raised this with someone at HQ...
However, I have still not heard anything further from M&S, three business days on.
I will keep you all posted.
BTW - a general rule I think customer experience should apply - Resolution at the point of transaction should always be offered. If it was delivered to my home, you should resolve the issue at my home.
UPDATE October 24, 2014. A letter arrives from M&S Head of Customer Services. It is detailed and lengthy. It accepts there were failings that should not have happened and which were inexcusable. It promises better inter-departmental communications and to consider enabling the online team to send out replacements in advance of receiving unfit for purpose products back. The letter thanks me for bringing all this to their attention.
All in all a very reasonable response. If only it had actually included a resolution of my issue...
I'm left feeling like I've done M&S a number of favours - from resolving the issue myself to giving them big clues about how to improve their offering and reduce their fail rate.
I am left assuming that karma will provide my reward...