Blovember #6 – Why wait for poor service?

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.

Cooper Avon – you rock. Bikezone – you don’t

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.

Avon Tyres Logo

Both Sides Are The Customer

English: Scarecrow No.5, Bill and Ben the Flow...
Bill & Ben

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.

Strategy, It Ain’t That Simple

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.A Chinese bamboo book, open to display the bin...

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?

Background But No Skills. Is This How The Mums Feel?

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.