Thursday, 29 July 2010

The tale of tiresome tyres and hysterical brides

Tyres and brides – not a natural marriage (sorry, should have resisted) however, the moral of the story means they did not live happily ever after.

When will companies wake up to the fact that blaming customers simply doesn’t make for ‘happy ever after’ – never, never, never ….

Take my friend who wanted a new tyre on his car. Web price shows an all-in price of £166 (it’s a very posh car). Delighted he calls his local branch, enquiring about availability. He’s then asked what the car is (uhh oh, that’ll move the decimal point to the right) to be told “that’ll be £220 all in mate” …grrrrr, he’s not your mate …..

Explaining he’d seen it cheaper on the web he then gets offered “£175 all-in mate” – so what stopped them offering this price to begin with???

The customer waiting area was unlit, the coffee machine was filthy (and cost £2.00) and the magazines were ratty …….what was the brand message being experienced?

Confident, competent, honest or sloppy, careless, dodgy – you decide

And so to the bride …..and this just makes my jaw drop

Friend getting married, doing so in major style, decides it has to be a dress to die for (metaphorically we trust) so appoints high profile designer Susan Goodchild (the £ signs are immense at this stage).

Abridged version – went to collect on Saturday, full of excited anticipation & happiness. Sadly not to last - dress has been made for what appears to be friends younger and potentially anorexic sister – it simply ain’t gonna fit in a million years.

Wondering if they’ve got 2 dresses mixed up my friend (the customer paying vast sums of money remember) is told it must be her fault!!! She must have got the size wrong!

Erm, hello, this is a designer, tailor made dress, how on earth could she have got the size wrong??

By now in tears she is told “well, you’ll just have to make do with one of the dresses from stock”.

Far be it from me to suggest the dresses from stock are any less than totally gorgeous, being told “you’ll just have to make do” is not what a bride-to-be wants to hear.

Leaving the store without a solution and spending the weekend in tears, she eventually receives a call from the designer on Monday afternoon and is told “well, you must have put on weight” (this is a lady who’s recovering from liver cancer so I think not) ……there now remains something of an impasse. Friend doesn’t have a dress – designer doesn’t appear to have a solution.

And it’s all her fault!

Obvious points here, however I just wonder how many times common-sense flies out of the window, where employees and business owners lose sight of what they’re all about. I describe it as ‘choose your battles’ ……..some customers really do attempt to take advantage, however it’s rare. Most simply expect common courtesy, understanding and a ‘what can we do to put this right’ attitude – nothing too complicated really. Staff need to understand this attitude is going to win more business, increase loyalty and create a far more pleasant day. Leaders need to give permission. Customers are not the enemy

Thursday, 15 July 2010

e-tiquette – 10 email no-no’s

War & Peace

The email that goes on and on and on and on …..and not nearly as amusing as the old Ariston advert either. I often wonder if their strategy is to bore you into submission, like you’ll lose the will to live so sign up just to get rid of them

Flawed thinking – do these people really believe that we’re so captivated we have time to read their verbose ramblings?

Get to the point!! Keep your points succinct, relevant and punchy ….unless that is you’ve got stuff to hide, in which case keep rambling and we’ll keep deleting!


Not the world cup variety – flags telling me how to prioritise.

Hello??? I decide the level of importance not you. All smacks of ‘my priority is now your priority’ and is guaranteed to get me as mad as Maradonna.

My suggestion? Unless you’ve called and we’ve agreed this is a very important/open this immediately/it’s a top of the league message please let me decide where to place the importance

Reply all

This could fall into ‘cc list’ territory except for one major difference – the public row that generally ensues. Failing that, the rather tedious reading of an email conversation between the sender and the originator – either way it’s rarely compelling – it’s nothing to do with me!

The ‘public row’ happens when egos are clashing or bitchy points are being scored – perhaps making for short-term amusement but like toilet humour, soon starts to leave a lingering and unwelcome odour.

To avoid being viewed in a pretty feeble light take any disagreements out of the email arena, put your big boy/girl pants on and have an adult debate – privately

And ‘reply all’ for a private conversation is rather like naff cartoon ties or ‘you don’t have to be mad’ notices – you may believe its interesting for the rest of us – it’s not.

Poor spelling/grammar/structure/text talk

Grrrrr, one of my all time pet hates – what’s wrong with using F7 for goodness sake?

Compose. Cut & paste. Spell check. Sorted. Took a nano-second.

In the same way as emailing in text language – it just makes you appear sloppy, ignorant and incompetent.

Email communication is a pretty impoverished at the best of times but has now all but replaced the mailed letter as a method of business contact.

Hold this in mind the next time you’re tempted to believe spelling and grammar matter not a jot – they do

Finally, spelling names incorrectly – simply no excuse. This is such a deep, ingrained feature of our psyche (primary school and possibly even nursery) that you’ll cause huge disconnection by ignoring name spelling.

Forward history

Here’s a great oxymoron for you – what I mean is the email where you’re being asked to comment on something urgently which is lost in an ocean of fwd, fwd, fwd ………

Help me cut through the fog and just send me the relevant points

Cc list

I appreciate I guard my privacy with the ferocity of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens but seeing my contact details on view to the world and his brother in a business circulation is just plain bad manners.

Use bcc (blind copy) or find some email whiz who knows how to keep your distribution list anonymous.

On a slightly different tangent, being included on an email without any specific instruction or request for information drives me insane.

If your intention is to ask someone to do something please avoid cc-ing them on an email and assuming they’re going to understand what is you’re expecting from them.

Finally on the subject of ‘cc list’ is the inclusion of a superior.

It’s not big and it’s not clever. In many ways it’s the equivalent of “right, that’s it. I’m telling on you”.

Filled with politics, spiteful, childish behaviour – time to put the big boy pants on again

Wrong tone

Being all about authenticity I get pretty miserable when an email is either overly matey or full of pomposity and high-brow words that would never see the light of day in general conversation.

Use language appropriate to the recipient, or better still, use a language and tone that is genuinely how you speak (providing you’re not the ignorant incompetent who fails to use F7).

This also includes ill placed humour – misogyny is just tasteless and sexism is rarely a redeeming feature.

Think a little before sending and ask yourself how much gender stereotyping it contains – not all females love shopping and hate sport, in much the same way that not all guys are constantly thinking about sex ………are they??

We-ing over the recipient

The worst kind of email is one that is full of ‘we’. Disgusting thought isn’t it? You know the sort of thing – we can provide, we work with, we think you should, we pride ourselves on, we would like to ……I could keep adding to this but hey, that would become War & Peace wouldn’t it?

The content needs to be about the person receiving it, so consider using a narrative with me in it to guarantee I’ll keep reading.

This one area will do more to help me determine your competency, your quality, and the value I place on you than anything else you may conceive of – promise.

Rather like a first date if the email is all about you I’m going to become cynical and bored faster than a fiddlers elbow – give me a reason to open your email by providing information relevant to me, inspire me, educate me, enlighten me but please never we on me!

Bad news day

Likely each one of us can recall the unfortunate email sent out intending to be buried on a bad news day – this isn’t what I mean, I was just teasing.

This is the use of email to fire/dump/air disputes/complain – simply don’t do it. Ever, ever, ever

Visual pollution

They say a picture paints a thousand words – except when the email is so chock-full with images that finding the text in the preview pane proves futile.

Instead of being able to make an informed choice about whether to invest time reading it I’m more likely to delete – that’s if my spam filters haven’t zapped it first!

Be succinct. Signpost. Structure.

Use visuals with caution otherwise it becomes a designers wet dream