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Posts tagged ‘customer experience’

dedicated to the folks at Loomis Express

April 18, 2012

fransiweinstein

With brands, like most other things, who you want to be and who you are, are sometimes very different.

It’s human nature.  We rarely see ourselves as we really are.  We prefer to see ourselves as we’d like to be:  20 pounds lighter, 10 years younger, with a full head of hair, more attractive to the opposite sex, blah blah blah.  The same can be said for CEOs, CMOs and the like — as it relates to how they want their companies and their brands to be perceived:  Client centric (all about the customer experience in today’s parlance), innovative, nimble, approachable, likeable, blah blah blah.

But whether you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, visualizing a hot blonde in a mini skirt instead of a plump matron in a Hilary Clintonesque pant suit, or you’re a head honcho briefing the agency, wishing does not make it so!!

What I am talking about is ‘authentic’ brands.  The real thing.

Like Apple.  Yes, they are innovative.  Yes, they are all about the customer experience.  Yes, they are friendly.  Yes, they do make it really simple to use and enjoy their products.  Yes, they are insanely great.  At all of the above — and at customer service and problem resolution and anything else you might think of.  And yes, their advertising totally reflects their philosophy, their products, their commitment, their passion, blah blah blah.

Unfortunately there aren’t many Apples.

Think of the companies you do business with.  Who’s your wireless provider?  Who’s your telco?  Where do you bank?  What soap do you use?  What cereal do you eat?  Now think of their advertising.  Do you think it’s consistent with your experience with that company or brand?

Okay, while you’re re-running commercials in your head I’m going to tell you a story:

It’s tax time.  For many good reasons despite the fact that I’ve lived in Toronto since 1985 I still have an accountant in Montreal.  This past Monday (April 16) I was ready to send him all my tax stuff.  Because I wanted to give him as much time as possible (April 30 is fast approaching), I decided to send it overnight courier.  Usually I use FedEx or UPS, but on Monday I was rushing to get to a client’s office for a meeting.  On my way I passed a business supply store and thought:  “Hmmm, wonder if they have a courier depot in there.”  Some of them, like Staples, do.

Sure enough they did.  DHL (for overseas) and Loomis for domestic.  I arranged for, and paid for, overnight service with delivery before noon the next day.

I have to admit there were a couple of times during the transaction where that inner voice we often pay no attention to, was whispering in my ear.  But I ignored it.  So when I got home at around 5:30 I decided to go online and track my shipment — to see if it had actually been picked up from the store.  The url the guy in the store had given me was wrong.  So I called the store and was given an 800 number to call.

Here’s where the brand part comes in:

While I was on hold for 25 minutes (before I hung up) I was forced to listen to what I can only describe as ‘commercials’:  “Receive your shipment on time for your afternoon meeting”.  “Reliable service door-to-door”.  “Attention and careful handling”.

  • I called 3 times.  Each time I was on hold for at least 25 minutes before I hung up.
  • I finally figured out the correct url and on Tuesday went online 5 times to try and track my shipment.  The only information available was that the package was picked up from the store.  I called my accountant at 5:30 and he had not received it.
  • I called the 800 number and was on hold for 20 minutes before I hung up.
  • I called the store.  They called somebody and called me back with a reference number and an assurance that a ‘tracer’ had been put on the shipment.  I was also assured I’d be called within 4 business hours with news.
  • It is now Wednesday.  I went online this morning and this time instead of tracking by the waybill number I tried to track by the reference number.  No such number existed.  So then I tried the waybill number.  Same info as Tuesday.
  • I called the 800 number.  Definitely getting tired of their commercials that promise all that good stuff.  Thankfully I was only on hold about 10 minutes this time.
  • Told the rep my sad tale of woe.  Was told that the individual who was tracing my shipment would not be in for another 20 minutes.  I left my number.  65 minutes later he called me.  Asked for Monica.  Despite the fact that he was looking at a paperwork that had my name on it, he couldn’t get my name straight. That did not bode well for my package.
  • About 30 minutes later another ‘tracer’ person called me.  She asked for Ivan.  Seems she couldn’t get my name straight either.

Attention and careful handling?  Reliable service?  Are you kidding me?  But there’s more:

  • ‘Tracer’ person #1 assured me he would call me throughout the day to check in, even if he had no news.
  • At 2:30, having not heard from anyone, I called him and left a message.
  • At 3:30, I blocked the caller I.D. on my phone and called back.  Lo and behold he answered.  No news.  No information either because he informed me that his supervisor had taken over the case.  Probably because I told them I’d be giving them a free ad campaign on social media if they didn’t find my shipment — pronto.  Canada Revenue isn’t going to cut me any slack because Loomis lost my receipts.
  • Oh yes, ‘Tracer #1 also told me that they couldn’t do a thorough search of their facility because they didn’t have enough staff available; and they’d have to wait until they had more staff.  When might that be?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Attention and careful handling?  Reliable service?

What do you think?  Does Loomis Express have an authentic brand?  (Still haven’t heard a word, by the way.  It is now 5:20 on Wednesday).

twitter to the rescue (and a smart CEO)

February 23, 2012

fransiweinstein

Can’t tell you how many conferences and seminars I’ve attended in the last couple of years where I’ve listened to marketers going on and on about how consumers are using social media to complain; and how important they think it is for their companies to have a social media presence — as if that would solve the problem.  As if a page on Facebook, a video on YouTube or tweeting about your latest commercial or product will make your customers and prospects ‘like’ you.  As if that would make up for a bad experience.

I know this is heresy, but I’ve got to tell you, as far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on the effectiveness of social media.  At least in terms of building brands, creating customer loyalty and attracting new customers.  And from my own experience, I’ve yet to see it used properly when it comes to resolving customer complaints and frustrations.

Until this past Tuesday.

But first, the back story.  I like reggae and, in particular, Bob Marley’s music.  A friend read an article about 2 weeks ago that, as part of Black History Month, the ROM was showing a documentary about Rastas that featured Bob Marley’s granddaughter — and there was also going to be a concert with another of Bob Marley’s relatives — a brother, I think.  There are other events as well, but those are the 2 that really appealed to us.  The article she read said that details could be found on the ROM website.  Because I’m a member I volunteered to get the information.

Suffice to say it wasn’t the best experience:  A lack of information on the website, several 5+ minute waits (over several days) to be connected to a human on the phone and volunteers and staff in the museum who were, although extremely polite, uninformed and, therefore, unable to help.  So eventually, last Tuesday, I started googling, looking for a Board Member I might know or the Director.  Amazingly I not only found the Director’s name, I also found out how to reach her on Twitter.

Limited to 140 characters I had to be pretty succinct.  To the point.  And compelling.  So essentially I said I was having a bad experience and my membership was in jeopardy.  Did I expect anything to come of this?  I wondered.  I hoped.  But judging from the experiences of others (not with the ROM) I wouldn’t have bet on it.

Well get ready to be impressed.

  • It took mere minutes for her to tweet me back!  Equally succinctly she asked me to explain, promising she would do her best to resolve my issues.
  • I tweeted back that it was difficult to do that in 140 characters — but I did thank her for her quick response.
  • She immediately sent me a message with her email address, again saying she wanted to help if she could (brilliant because until she knew what my problems were promising to do something that she might not be able to do would only have exacerbated the problem).
  • I sent her an email that outlined everything that had happened.
  • Within 30 minutes I heard back from her.  She thanked me for giving them the feedback.  She thanked me for giving them a chance to put things right.  She told me she was going into several meetings but had forwarded my email to 2 of her senior colleagues — the Head of Membership and Sales and the VP of Visitor Relations.  She copied them on the email she sent me so I had their names and email addresses.  She told me I’d hear from them.  And then she promised to check in with them personally, to make sure they’d received my email and had followed up with me.

To be totally honest by this point I was so impressed, any frustrations I might have had disappeared.  She had completely diffused the situation.  Here is someone who is not on Twitter because everyone else is.  She ‘uses’ it.  She obviously monitors the tweets she gets on a very regular basis (and no, I am not suggesting she gets lots of complaints).  And she acts.  Quickly and decisively.  She also listens.  And learns.  And communicates with people who are communicating with her.  Brilliant.

If you’re wondering, I did hear back from the Head of Membership and Sales — not long after I got the email from the Director and CEO of the ROM giving me her name.  We had a good conversation.  I sent an email letting the Director and CEO know that I had been contacted — and within minutes she acknowledged my email, thanked me again, gave me some information on other events relating to Black History Month they are hosting and said she hoped they could continue to count on my being a member.

You bet they can!

If anybody reading this blog knows the head of a company or the head of Marketing for a company please feel free to send them the link.  There is a great lesson here.

 

does anyone care about what I want?

November 20, 2011

fransiweinstein

Don’t worry.  I’m not expecting you to answer.  It’s a rhetorical question — and I’m only putting it out there because ‘customer experience’ is being bandied about quite a bit these days (including by yours truly); and, when I think about my own customer experiences I automatically think about whether or not they deliver what I’m looking for.

And I’m not just referring to the quality of customer service that comes with those relationships — which is where you might think I’m headed.  What I’m talking about is a much bigger, more challenging issue — and I alluded to it in my last post.  What I’m talking about are sellers and providers of anything and everything, who base their offerings on customers’ needs and preferences — not simply their own — individuals who also think, not only of benefitting themselves and the companies and organizations they work for, but society in general.

That’s what I want.

It’s a tall order, I know, but I truly believe it is the only way we’ll succeed — or even survive — going forward.  Regardless of whether you’re employed in the public or private sector.

So now let’s get more specific about some of the things I think about when I should probably be working on my latest project, my filing (which I loathe doing and is, therefore, piling up on every available surface), or even worse — laundry:

Neither the manager or staff at the grocery store where I do a lot of my shopping have ever asked me what I want (even when I’m wandering up and down the aisles looking confused because I don’t know where they’ve moved the crackers) — so I’m going to take this opportunity to tell them.

I would love to know how much food they throw away every week.  I ask because the food banks — and thank God for them — can’t accommodate perishable items.  So wouldn’t it be great if a large, warehouse type space was made available — it was outfitted with some refrigerated units (also donated) — and instead of throwing perfectly good food away, it was given to those people who currently depend on the food banks, and are currently able to eat only the staples that come in cans, tins and cartons.  It wouldn’t replace the food banks — it would just enhance what they could offer.

What are you willing to bet that if I went to the head office of any grocery store operating in this country with this idea I’d get at least 5 reasons why it can’t be done.  And I’ll bet you that if they assembled a diverse group of people who could have a role in this initiative — and if they were prepared to dig deep and think differently — we could find a way to execute at least something close to this idea.

This is something I want.  It would make me feel better about the food I am buying.  It would make me feel better about the grocery store where I shop.  It would make me feel better knowing all this food wasn’t going to waste.  And it would make me feel a lot better about what the less fortunate members of our society are eating, and what a positive effect it could have on other aspects of their lives.

Let’s move on.  Now I’d like to tell my bank what I’d like.  Relax — you don’t have to send the kids out of the room.  There’ll be no swearing.  It’s a simple, little request actually:

Have you ever wondered why, as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit, you are free to charge whatever you’d like to your credit card?  Well … I’d prefer to do that with my debit card.  If I have enough money in my account to pay for a $5,000 holiday with my debit card — cash, in other words — my cash — why can’t I?   Wouldn’t you think that whatever means banks use to ‘approve’ your credit card purchases while you’re standing at a cash register, should be transferable to debit card purchases.  So why isn’t it?  Is it merely that they’ve never thought about it themselves.  Is it because they’ve never asked their customers what they want?

Could it be that they (bank honchos) prefer it when — human nature being what it is — even though you told yourself you’d pay your credit card off as soon as you get the bill, you don’t — and they get to charge you interest?  But isn’t that short term thinking?  If you weren’t drowning in credit card debt, you’d potentially have more money — to invest (with them).  For a mortgage (with them).  For a bigger mortgage (with them).  You’d be more credit-worthy (which you’d think they’d like).  They wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you might, one day, lose your job and be unable to pay off your credit card debt — leaving them holding the bag.

There’s a lot more on my mind, but I think I’ve done enough talking for a while.  What are some of the things you want?

 

don’t know what to think about this

November 19, 2011

fransiweinstein

Last weekend a client sent me a link to a blog on Forbes.  “The CMO:  Dead Men Walking” by Paul Magnone.  I have read it a dozen times and I’m still not sure what his point is.

He started off by saying that in IBM’s recently-released Global CMO Study 71% reported that they’re underprepared for the “Data Explosion.”  He didn’t go into detail.  He did, however, quickly go on to say that we now have more data available to us than ever before, but it’s not giving us much to work with — insight-wise.  No examples to help me figure out whether or not I agreed.

So correctly or incorrectly I leapt to the conclusion that a hell of a lot of CMOs are drowning in a sea of useless information — out of which, Magnone was quick to point out, they are expected to figure out how to “improve the customer experience and deliver value to empowered customers.”

Doesn’t sound like marketing’s job to me, but I’m only about half way through the blog.  It’s also very early Saturday morning, I’m still a bit groggy and I haven’t had coffee yet.

When I returned from Starbucks and started reading again I saw that we were now “following the customer’s north star” — which meant that we should be asking ourselves whether the customer actually wants the product or message we’re giving them.  Or are we selfishly giving them what we want?

Well, this is a subject that is very close to my heart.  But worrying about the message after it’s been delivered is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.  Which could explain why Paul Magnone thinks that CMOs are dead men walking.  As for the product not being relevant (which is essentially what he’s saying here), even after a low fat Grande Latte I still don’t think it’s marketing’s problem.  So maybe the CEO should really be the dead man (walking or not) because it looks to me like he’s trying to pass the buck.

Frankly, I’ve long believed that it’s not uncommon for a client to expect an advertising campaign  to solve a problem that it couldn’t solve.  What actually needed fixing could have been the product or service they were selling or the lack of customer service they were delivering.

But despite what I think, as best I can tell, it is Paul Mangone’s contention that CMOs days are numbered unless they take the lead — not just when it concerns marketing, but also when a major business decision is being considered.  That it should be the responsibility of the CMO to ensure that the product, sales, distribution and legal teams are driven by the customer’s needs and wants.

Again, a subject that is very close to my heart.  But again, I do not believe this is marketing’s issue.  This must be inherent in the corporate culture.  It starts with the CEO and it has to be embraced by everyone who works for, and is connected in any way, to the company.

Paul Magnone has good credentials.  He’s VP of business development and strategic alliances at Opennet Telecom.  He’s the co-author of a book.  He worked at IBM for 21 years, where he started and grew four sales and consulting businesses.  Forbes liked what he said, because they published his blog post.

So I’m prepared to accept that I’m missing something here.   Do me a favour and check out the story; and explain to me why all this data is the kiss of death for CMOs.

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