Friday, July 17, 2015

Doing The Right Thing

As previously discussed on this blog and in The 10 Principles of Open Business, the value of trust to a business cannot be over-stated.

But does that mean you are doing the right thing?
Trust is the core component of the value of any brand, institution or organisation.
And - as we make clear in The 10 Principles - we don't mean the 'we trust you to deliver' kind of trust that Ryanair used to rely on, we mean the 'we believe you have our best interests at heart' kind its more recent marketing has been tilted toward (yes, even Ryanair has grasped the essential difference and how important that has become to their sustained success).
What this all boils down to is a shift in staff behaviour from Jobsworth to Doing The Right Thing.
When the horse-meat scandal hit the European food-chain, Tesco's senior team didn't stop to ask themselves what they could get away with, or to investigate which suppliers they could point the blame at and pass the buck to, or spend weeks with the legal department honing what they would say to the press and on social media. No. Instead - as CMO at the time Matt Atkinson tells us in The 10 Principles - they simply went about doing the right thing; telling the truth as they knew it, opening up to provide transparency, giving money back without a quibble - acting as if they had the best interests of their customers at heart.
That's really at the guts of my complaint about Hargreaves-Lansdown published yesterday. They are taking a Jobsworth attitude, hiding behind regulations, letters of the law.
Today we expect something different: We expect them to Do The Right Thing.
I don't blame the front line staff I have had to interact with for this - it is an organisational stance and that comes from the top.
Tesco shifted theirs, thanks in no small part to ambitions to become an Open Business. The rebuilding of trust was (and remains) essential to that business.
And if you want me to believe you have my best interests at heart you had best Do The Right Thing rather than what a set of terms and conditions protect you for. When The Computer Says No but your heart and head tell you Yes, it's wise to consider it's the computer that may be wrong...
Contracts and regulations rarely cover every circumstance, every nuance. The relationship between customer and business, or business and supplier is built on trust. The moment you have to refer to the terms and conditions, the contract, the relationship is essentially at an end - you no longer trust each other or believe the other party has your best interest at heart.
How do you make Doing The Right Thing endemic in your org? It's all about permission. I rather like what Avis has done in the US (again referred to in my book) where every member of staff (every member of staff, not just folk up the tree or behind the management desk) is empowered to give up to a set amount in dollar terms to resolve a customer's problems as they see fit, right there and then.
That makes the ability to Do The Right Thing a genuine possibility to all.
So ask yourself - in your organisation are the teams being encouraged to Do The Right Thing or keep the Jobsworth hat on? It could make all the difference to how long folk are prepared to keep trading with you.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Taken without consent

Apparently, if a financial institution changes what it charges you (including creating brand new fees) it can do that as long as it tells you. It doesn’t need a response from you. It just needs to tell you that from now on you get to pay them for something you never requested.
It does not even need evidence that the message was received. Message sent,  it can get on with taking the money from your account.
I’m not making this up – and according to the folk at Hargreaves-Lansdown –it’s all perfectly legal and within the rules.
I bought some Royal Mail shares when the  last government was fool enough to give them away some time ago. I followed this trade with one other in which I sold the amount of Royal Mail shares that covered the cost of my investment within a few days. I left the rest in the Hargreaves-Lansdown account I’d opened specifically for the purpose. I used them because they were relatively easy to use online.
That was my last transaction with them. And the last contact from customer to Hargreaves-Lansdown between then and now.
In the meantime they sent me many letters in the post – pretty consistently marketing material aimed at getting me to invest in other shares with them. In short order I began to view them just as I do the regulars from Virgin about broadband – spam that goes direct to the bin – for the most part, unopened.
A CRM or even learning business process could have saved them heaps in postage. The spam wasn’t working. The evidence is clear in my empty trading record.
Unbeknownst to me, among this deluge of spam were letters informing me that they were now going to charge me for paper reports. Now, if you know me, the last thing in the world I am going to opt for is paper reports when a digital version is available. The fact is I didn’t opt in for either. But HL’s argument is that because I didn’t respond to their letters, telling me they were going to charge me for something I had neither requested nor had any intention of using, they could merrily take cash from my account.
At first they took the share dividends my Royal Mail shares paid out without telling me. Then (and this is when the penny dropped for me at last) they sent a letter (one I did open) telling me my account held insufficient funds to cover fees that fell due. Fees? I thought. What fees? I didn’t k now I was paying these guys fees? Annual ones? I don’t recall opting for that? I never had, that’s why I couldn’t recall it.
But because they had sent me a letter saying they were changing their terms from what was a free service to one which would now be billable, they were within their rights to bill me and then charge me even more.
I don’t like being in debt to these types (it can ruin your credit rating), so I paid a further £20 odd at the weekend on a DD card. I do so without any grace.
Now if all of this is within the letter of the law then I say shame on the law (or in this case the regulation). It’s clearly been designed to protect the institution over its customer.
Think of other reasons why I may not have responded (apart from my learned behaviour of binning letters I consider spam). I may have moved house. I may have been in a coma. I may have been dead.
So what? Ker-ching and another fee gets taken on another account to pay for something another person never requested or agreed to pay for. I wonder how many of us there are? (And if you have ever done a trade with Hargreaves-Lansdown I suggest you make checks).
Oh – for the record – since December last year they have sent me around 40 emails. None of them refer to taking any fee from me for paper services. All of them are general marketing messages.

Here’s a thought for Hargreaves-Lansdown: Instead of opting-in people to pay when you don’t hear back from them, stop sending out the paper documents instead. And when they contact you requesting you switch the service back on, have that conversation about paying for it. Somehow that would seem altogether more honest.
The sums involved here may be small - but the principle is an important one. Everyone's mother teaches them: "Don't take without asking".

And just before anyone tells me I should have opened my spam... a reminder on the importance of making sure messages are received by those for whom they are intended - from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy:



UPDATE: On July 21, 2015 after a series of lengthy exchanges between myself and increasingly senior members of the H-L team, I finally received a refund for the latest report (though not, it has to be said, for previous fees taken on other occasions). 
I was told of this in a message from the CEO. I'll be fair and say the tone was not somewhat questioning with a degree of surprise retained that I had not read their communications (to which I refer you to the video above).
That being said, the CEO did say that their policy was that where people were unaware of the paper fee and contacted them then it was usually waived (provided they then swapped to paperless). That hadn't happened in my case costing both parties considerable time and effort.
I will also note that I have only been refunded the most recent paper fee.  I'm still out of pocket on reports it seems I must continue to receive, though at least - as the digital option is now well and truly selected - future ones will be at no additional cost.
The victory may be small (£12 back for - all my dividends on the shares I hold there plus a recent payment of just over £20) but at least the CEO knows in detail how his customer experience is working out right now...



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trust should be priority 1 in digital transformation

Many companies are waking up to how far behind they are on the Digital Maturity scale referred to in the recent Copgnizant sponsored paper by Brian Solis.

But it seems to me too few are seeing their efforts toward digital transformation as more than a way in which they get to do more/faster to their customers. In my work on Open Business I have always argued that the single biggest win of digital transformation for organisations comes from the shift in relationship it enables.
Yes there is great efficiency and effectiveness to be had from learning more about your customers' behaviour, their needs and their implicit and explicit desires. But it's unlikely you'll generate a meaningful relationship of trust purely by serving needs (think of the difference between helping to fix and then enjoy a family meal, and rushing in and out of McDonald's to grab a bite on the run).
I don't argue that servicing need (and making it as easy as possible) isn't of extremely high value. I do argue that it is the tip of the iceberg that can be released through the shift in relationship with the consumer; from customer to partner. Trust, sense of ownership, shared purpose - all drive loyalty and increase spend. One regional co-operative I worked with boasted 50% membership among its customers. They accounted for 70% of the spend.
The transparency and free communication digital delivers offers the promise of making all organisations accountable to their customers in the kind of way member organisations have always enjoyed.
Trust accounts for the vast majority of the value of any brand.
It therefore remains a mystery to me that building trust isn't always top of the digital transformation agenda.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A chat with Amazon...


A chat with Amazon....
You're now connected to Govindaraj from Amazon.co.uk
Me:Hi yesterday I had a chat conversation here about a faulty mains adapter which came with the order I placed: ORDER # 205-9738485-2982704. I was told £15 was being refunded to me as the item was out of stock and therefore a replacement couldn't be sourced and I would have to purchase my own replacement or get it repaired. I was told I would get an email confirming the refund. This has not appeared in my inbox and in the mean time I have both purchased a replacement AND noticed that the item concerned IS in stock on amazon
Govindaraj:Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk. My name is Govindharaj. May I know your name, please?
Am I chatting with David?
Me:yes
Govindaraj:Hello David,
I understand that you have been promised to issue a partial refund of 15.00 GBP for the defective item by yesterday.
Me:that's correct
Govindaraj:Unfortunately our colleague have failed to issue a refund for your order.
In order to help you, I'll issue a refund for your order now.
Me:ok thank you. But cvan you also check if it is possible to simply send out the replacement adapter since the item it is part of is in stock?
Govindaraj:I'm afraid, we are unable to send a adapter as a replacement for your order.
I'll issue a partial refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate right now for placing new order straightaway.
Me:Hang on. That's not a refund.
Govindaraj:Yes. This is how we can issue a refund for your order.
Otherwise, we cannot issue a partial refund for your order in other form.
As per our Amazon Standard policy, we cannot issue partial refund for the items which are sold by our sellers.
If you are not happy with the discount, I suggest you to return the item for a refund.
Me:Thanks so much. I will of course bear this in mind in all future transactions with amazon. This was a prime vendor. What is the point of prime if you default on your legal responsibilities as soon as anything goes wrong?
Govindaraj:I understand that you are a prime customer. When the item gets defective which are purchased from our seller, we should ask our customer return the item for a refund. We cannot send a replacement for the seller's fulfill item.
I'll send the return label with additional return details vai email.
Please return the item to us for a refund.
After reviewing our previous correspondence with you, please accept my apologies for any misunderstanding caused. The promise which was made by our colleague by yesterday was an incorrect one.
So, I suggest you to return the item for a refund.
Me:NO it's o late for that I have already purchased a replacement (on amazon) for the mains adapter and it is showing that it has been despatched - so I'd end up with a useless adapter I've paid for (and not out of a gift voucher as I was excpecting a REFUND as told yesterday. So, please issue the refund as promised yesterday. My daughter is now using the item under battery power. Yesterday's promise made me spend MORE money with amazon (ie cash not gift certificates.). Get this osrted between you and tell me what you are going to do to correct both the delivery of a faulty item and poor communications internally.
Govindaraj:I'm sorry, we are unable to issue a refund for your order in the form of Gift Certificate. We can only issue a partial refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate.
Me:Then you had better add the cost of the additional item I paid cash for yesterday as a minimum - £8.03p. And this would have to be without prejuidice since I do not know at this stage if this will solve the problem
Govindaraj:Please understand, David. We can issue a refund in the form of promotional Gift certificate you can make use of that for placing your next order.
Me:I do understand. And I'm saying I have already spent money in the expectation of my refund being a refund. So I am asking in respect for that that you make the gift certificate up to £15 + that additional £8.08 ie (£23.08) and this remains without prejudice with the caveat that the replacement I purchase resolves the issue,
Govindaraj:I'm afraid, we are unable to issue a refund of £15 +£8.08 for your order.
Me:So that means you accept no blame for the misinformation I was given yesterday and the subsequent purchase I have made, just so we are both clear?
Govindaraj:Please understand, David. As per our Amazon Standard policy, I can only help you by issue a 15.00 GBP refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate.
Me:Govindaraj, please understand how much money I spend with Amazon each year. Do you want to lose that for the sake of a £8.03 in gift certificate. That's where we are headed right now so you may want to check if you can make an exception before we close.
Govindaraj:Alright, I will issue a partial refund of £8.03 for you in the form of credit payment which you have spend for the another product as an exception.
Please note this is against our standard policy, I'll going to do that as an exception.
Me:Thank you. And so I am clear you will do this in addtion to the £15?
Govindaraj:I'm sorry, we cannot issue a refund of 15 GBP as a promotional credit for the purchase.
When you will return the item, we will issue full refund for the purchase.
*return the item in future.
£40.00
Nazeera:Hello, my name is Nazeera.
Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk. May I have your name, please?
Me:we just lost connection. I was speaking with Goindaraj and had been for some time
Sorry Govindaraj
Nazeera:Hello David.
May I place the chat on hold for a minute or two while I check this order for you?
Me:Hello can you reconnect me with Govindaraj please?
Nazeera:I’m sorry this is taking longer than expected. Please bear with me while I research your query.
Thanks for waiting.
: I understand that you have been promised to issue a partial refund of 15.00 GBP for the defective item by yesterday.
Me:yes
Nazeera:I'm afraid, we are unable to issue a refund of £15 +£8.08 for your order.
Me:I have spoken at length about this with Govindaraj. For too long. And I have much to do. so what's going on?
Nazeera:As per our Amazon Standard policy, I can only help you by issue a 7.00 GBP refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate, else I will issue refund for the order £8.03.
Me:So what are you doing about my defective item, the fact I was misinformed and have made another cash purchase on amazon as a result of that misinformation and now have spent a further half an hour repeating the whole story because you failed to send the refund yesterday.
Nazeera:As per our Amazon Standard policy, we cannot issue partial refund for the items which are sold by our sellers. My colleague has promised with this incorrectly and he has already been coached on this.
Me:Which helps me not one jot. Planet's most customer centric company? I don't think so. This was a prime vendor. Take some responsibilty for that badge.
Any response?
Me:Oh - right anoth4r lost connection huh?
Lavanya:Hello, my name is Lavanya.
Me:And you are the third person I have spoken to on this. Can you resolve in the next 2 minutes?
Lavanya:I'm sorry your previous chat was disconnected. I will try and help you with your query.
Me:YOu know all about it? Because I'm not goign over it all again
Lavanya:May I know the name, e-mail address, and the first line of your billing address on your account, please?
Me:David Cushman, dxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com. xx xxxxxxxxx xxxx. And I've really had enough of this by now.


Lavanya:Thank you for the details.
In this case, It is not possible to issue a partial refund for the item. I request you to please return the item for full refund.

Me:I have explained a million times. It is workign with bastteries currently. I have bought a replacement mains adapter for it on amazon yesterdasy aft5er I was told I was getting a £15 refund to cover that yesterday.
I have no more time to discuss this. Please check with Govindaraj, Nazeera and crucuially your management before we waste any more of my time. email me your resolution and I will add it to this:http://fasterfuture.blogspot.co.uk/2015...(See full link) thanks


MORE TO COME

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Trust has greatest value where choice is highest and price sensitivity lowest

Trust - the output of the 10 Principles of Open Business - is essential for success in today's open economy.
But we should note that its value varies across market segments. Trust will attract the right staff, keep the organisation honest and true to its beliefs and inspire people to perform at their best. But its impact on consumer action varies depending on choice/ease of switching and price sensitivity.
This may explain why even when we lose trust in something we don't always stop using it.
The graph included here illustrates my plotting of some market segments and institutions which shows us which should put the greatest efforts into building trust for the purpose of impacting consumer behaviour.

Where it's very difficult to switch (ie your daily commute by train) trust has some value but building it won't encourage more commuters to use a rail company. They just may feel a little better about the next price hike, a little safer while on board.
While there is no option when it comes to your police service you could argue there is little requirement to build trust to change user behaviour (though trusting the service does of course encourage people to be more open with it, even if we can't go and share our intel with an alternative organisation).
The key area for trust as an investment in behavioural change seems to be where both the cost of both switching and the price sensitivity is low (the top right quadrant).
Here we find the banks, the media, transport. Most retail vendors would fall here. Topically - politically parties appear a standout. Trust should be everything to them.
My positioning of supermarkets on this grid may explain why - despite the repeated crises of trust in our supermarket giants (even Open Business advocates Tesco) - there hasn't been a mass exodus of customers. Tesco's market share is down less than 2% year on year according to Kantar (Oct 2014). But that's based on spend, not numbers of customers. Customers are less likely to have left Tesco for Aldi or Lidl over issues of trust than they are over issues of price. They have added an Aldi run to their routine Tesco buys, not abandoned it completely.
These positions aren't fixed. IF through Open Business or other investment in building trust (and blockchain is being advocated as one such tool by The 10 Principles Co-author Jamie Burke) organisations can make trust a competitive advantage they can become more resistant to start-ups and new-comers who do not have a trust bank already established.

FasterFuture.blogspot.com

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?