I have just read a rant on Facebook where a customer of BestBuy in Calgary felt very hard done by because the staff in-store were rubbish and despite nothing else to do they ignored them whilst standing around doing nowt. They waited 5-9 minutes apparently. Not only does such a statement imply that the complainant is pretty bad at judging the passing of time it also says to me that they had nothing better to do than wait and work themselves up whilst plotting their punitive retaliation (embarrass them using social media). there is nothing to suggest they even attempted to escalate the issue at a store level.
Whilst this is just rubbish service I don’t think you have earned the right to complain if you did nothing. There will be a manager on duty and I’ll bet that summoning them – the mere act of – will be a bit of a rocket to the lazy assistants. As a manager I’d dearly like to know if my customers are not receiving a level of service that delights them. As a manager I can’t improve it for you or other customers if you wait, bottle up your unhappiness and then snipe at us using Facebook (despite the dire threats to splash the entire world of social media with this example of egregious treatment they posted it on the US BestBuy page and not the Canadian one. BestBuy politely pointed this out. I only saw it because a contact reposted it.).
Staff make mistakes, staff are sometimes lazy, offensive, bring personal issues to work etc etc. All to be avoided but the fact is they do happen. There is a difference between a one-off and repetitive crap behaviour. Maybe the manager needs replacing? Who knows if you don’t bring it up.
By all means expect and demand high levels of service but don’t shy away from bringing it up with first-line management if you don’t get it. Being a customer in the real world isn’t a completely one-way track. Do your bit before you take to the airwaves to shout about your unhappiness. Try being part of the solution and not just part of the problem. No change will come if you shirk your responsibilities as a customer.
A day of two halves on the customer service front. Firstly, I was killing time in Zappi’s Bike Cafe which makes the most excellent coffee in Oxford. It is inside Bike Zone and I meandered into the bike store part with both time to kill and the rarest of animals – cash in my pocket. There isn’t a riper time to relieve me of cash for bike ephemera that when I am a bit bored and am holding the folding. So…I am standing in the middle of a small shop floor. There are the usual spanner jockeys behind the counter but walking around in front of me is someone who is clearly the boss, he knows it and doesn’t deal with trivia like customers standing there in front of him. He was stepping around me fer gawdsake… I was feeling rather silly actually as I was obviously getting in the way of him making scathing remarks to the spanner jockeys about their pathetic efforts to fill the shelves with stock.
On the other hand I was blown away by a call I received from the Sales Director of Avon Tyres. I had rung Avon to query why my new winter tyres, despite being stickered as Avon Ice Touring ST, were all saying Cooper Weathermaster on the sides. Odd. We agreed that as Cooper owns the Avon brand that although the labelling was wrong the items were essentially the same. Despite being offered the opportunity to have them changed I declined saying it was a lot of hassle and that why didn’t he just organise a voucher or something. Kevin replied that I was to call him when I was changing back to summer tyres and he’d organise the Avon’s of my choice to be delivered to Merit Tyre in Witney at 50% off. Wow! Who can say fairer than that. That simple gesture has just secured me as an Avon customer for good.
Most interactions can be boiled down to what is happening between the two people involved. We’ll call the Bill & Ben for the purposes of this example.
Ben sold a faulty Thing to Bill. Bill is unhappy and calls Ben in the hope that Ben will fix the problem. So what’s going on at the basic level?
I’m no psychologist but I’ll bet that both Bill and Ben each have some sort of general aspiration to go to bed content every night. After all, no one likes tossing and turning whilst they replay the days events in their head. Do they?
So, whilst Bill rightly expects Ben to “do something” as Bill has handed over his hard earned for a faulty Thing, I think that Ben doesn’t want to be the cause of Bill’s upset. Ben also doesn’t want the chat with Bill to leave him (Ben – keep up!) feeling bad. So I believe that Bill will get more than the legal minimum out of Ben if he recognises this and tries not to leave Ben feeling bruised and battered. Ben has obligations under consumer law but any additional recompense is down to him. Bill enjoys legally mandated consumer rights thanks to the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (a). Great; we have the legal stuff taken care of.
What about the soft and fuzzy emotional stuff? Why doesn’t Bill just invoke the law, maybe even go in all lawyered up, and just stick it to Ben? I mean, Ben (probably knowingly as these filthy cheating capitalist so and so’s are all the same don’tchyaknow?) is trying to give the minimum for the maximum, right?
Maybe Bill realises that he stands to gain more from Ben if he leaves Ben feeling ok from the chat? Maybe Ben is inclined to do more for Bill if Bill treats him decently?
So next time you need to complain remember, they are also a customer of yours.
This post is me getting ahead of things and guessing the outcome of a chat I intend to have. The reason I am doing this is to show how previous interactions with a supplier can inform customer expectations of future interaction. In this instance I am the customer. Bear with me for the preamble as it sets the scene for my point.
I love to swim. For fitness and not competition but I do 5-7km per week. I – along with many others – am a regular user of the local pool. This is no longer owned by the council as a truly publicly owned and run amenity but has been sold to a third party leisure services provider. I have no idea of the exact arrangements but it does mean that I am now dealing with a private firm and not a public service. They are called Nexus.
I have come to expect a higher level of service from a private provider. When I started swimming enough to go to a direct debit, all you can eat, payment model for my swimming I had to fill out myriad forms. The most interesting was the Direct Debit form and the fact that (it is the only way to pay for this option) it attracts a £10.00 administration fee!
Get this; I am being charged for their administrative costs. This staggers me. It’s their business. Surely their business model accounts for administrative work that they need to do?
Mrs S. and I have a joint account and Mrs S already has an all you can eat swimming DD set-up. Ahh, I thought, I have a cunning idea which will be both appreciated by Nexus and save me a tenner. I’ll just ask them to increase the amount taken to cover both of us.
*Note: Direct Debit’s (DD) are a unique tool for UK banks. The company needs to be sufficiently solvent to do this. In return, when I sign a DD then the company has the power tio vary the amounts take. It is a good set-up as the consumer can cancel it with a call, the scheme is indemnified and the business can vary the amounts taken. Everyone’s a winner.
“Oooohhh no sir, we can’t do that. Far too complicated, love to help just not poss etc etc etc” What!!!!To cut a long story short I gave up raging against the machine and just paid my tenner and had Nexus set up a completely new (yet identical) DD on our account. Madness but madness mandated in the rules. After all, following the rules is far far more important than applying common sense. After all, an outbreak of common sense might lead to people thinking for themselves and we wouldn’t want that now would we?
That’s the background.
The pool in Thame can get quite busy and the water gets very choppy between lanes. If you have seen a swimming competition on telly or live you’ll notice the lane ropes that they use are many discs strung together. In short, these dampen the choppiness between lanes. In the Thame pool the most rudimentary old school lane ropes are used and they have lost most of their floats. The function of the colour changes in the lane ropes is to indicate, primarily to backstrokers, when the end of the pool is approaching. Something the old school ropes don’t do at all well. Wouldn’t it be great if our pool used the modern (relatively – 30 years old now) lane ropes? Perhaps they don’t own them. Afterall, times are tight so no one is going to be lashing out money on a set of these?
But wait, it turns out the pool has (owned by Nexus and not the local swimming club) these ropes nicely coiled away on the storage drum. “Why aren’t these being used?” I enquired of some staff and a swim coach I know. Reply; “Ah yes. They are a lot more hassle and we only use them for swimming galas.” So this means that the main revenue stream of the regular users get the rubbish old ropes whilst the nice ones are kept for a maximum of four times a year.
Great British customer service. I am not looking to make your experience better because it means more work for me.Wonderful. I feel like a really valuable customer. Thanks, Nexus.
I intend to ask the new in post manager if they could see their way to using the decent lane ropes. Based on the DD madness I reckon I’ll get fobbed off. And that’s even before I have asked the question. Just goes to show how easy it is to get a poor reputation as I am all mentally geared up for a fight which I wish doesn’t happen. Amaze me please, Mr New Manager.
No it’s not. The first post is just an attempt to bring some really simple clarity to a topic that seems – in business circles – to have a lot of smoke and mirrors applied to it. I suppose that if you make your audience blind then you can charge to clear the air. Hey, welcome to the world of average Management Consulting!
Very sadly – for me – I was lying awake at 0530h thinking about the previous post of Strategy vs Tactics. It’s not simple and I think that the other key point to make is that you can also have a sub-strategy to achieve your overall strategy. I have even heard the overall strategic objective of being “there” instead of “here” not being referred to as strategy but a goal. I think these kind of differences are semantics and tend to involve more smoke and more mirrors. Use the term you are comfortable with but understand that the tactics – individual actions – differ.
There is of course the way that you go about achieving the overall strategic objective. I would also call this a strategy. E.g.: do you batter the front door down or tiptoe around the side and look for an open window? I am not trying to teach you individual strategies here – this is the Sun Tzu stuff I referred to in the previous post – suffice it to say that most people seem to go for the batter the door down approach when there are many many more elegant and efficient ways to achieve your strategic goal. They have a problem for some in that they are inherently more intellectually demanding and less about brute force.
Ask yourself, are you smart or just massively strong?
I used to have to cover this in a course I gave for salespeople. I am not a believer in trying to dress concepts up with loads of flannel when they need to be understood first. There is room for detail when you get into it but the simple concept should be that. Simple.
Simply put; It’s a bit like going to a film. The strategy is the overall aim to go and see a film. The tactics are the step by step actions to achieve that. They can be broken down into granular detail if needs be. It could be as simple as choose a film, get in the car and go to cinema, watch film. On the other hand it could be broken down into turn PC on, use Google to search for films, read reviews, pick film that suits your free time & tastes, buy tickets, collect keys, check there is enough petrol in the car etc etc etc…
This isn’t just a pure sales plan tool but a great thing to hold in your head when planning a campaign for a variety of things. The strategy is without doubt the hardest thing to agree on. If it’s about a business relationship then you need to be in alignment and agreement with your customer first. A strategy isn’t something you can just “do” to the other party. Once they trust that you understand their business and their strategy then it’s much easier to earn credibility by showing how your strategy with them helps them achieve their strategy. After that the tactics will come easily. Some will be be joint and some will be owned by either party. Simple, isn’t it?
I fundamentally disagree with the remark in an article I read that says the following; “Strategy is the practice of figuring out the best way to get from here to there.” Noooooo, strategy is the decision that you want to be “there” and not “here”. Tactics are the things you need to do to get from “here” to “there”, achieving your strategic aim.
Sounds simpler by the second? So, it’s OK to get all Sun Tzu about it the whole thing, but ensure that you grasp the basic distinctions first.
As mentioned previously – one of the reasons for this blog is to make an up to date digital footprint out there in the ether. My CV is located here.
The reason for this post is that I have been turning over and over in my head the remarks a supposedly good recruiter made to me. He said, “the problem you face Dominic is that you have a strong background but no skills.” Go figure.
I am in a be nice to all mode – hence not naming him – but I was speechless. How exactly is this possible, to have a background but no skills? Did they just up and go one night while I slept?
I guess this was his way of saying “no thanks mate, you’re not for me” etc etc. I guess the time I have taken off to look after my daughter has rotted my brain and in true homeopathic style I just have an imprint left by my background, that’s all.
I now have a previously unimagined level of empathy with the skilled and competent mothers who come back to work after a child-rearing break and are gently side-lined into roles far below their capability. I have had it suggested to me on more than one occasion that I need to take several steps back. Obviously my brain is mush and this is a safe thing to do.
People are still people. Customers are still customers. They have the same basic needs, hopes, aspirations and desires that they had 3,4,5 or even 50 years ago. There seems to be a view amongst some recruiters – often the males I am ashamed to say – that looking after a child is some easy opt out and really means I am work-shy and yes; my skills have vanished.
Oddly, I retain the skills that I acquired before selling my firm. I think I have acquired more as I didn’t spend my spare time watching Jeremy Kyle/Jerry Springer.