Andrew is interested in helping businesses achieve sustainable performance improvement and for him that's all about PEOPLE and PROCESS.

His light-hearted blog aim to explore this further- please feel free to Contact Him with comments 

IS IT BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE - WELL, I BELIEVE SO!

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The economy is flat at best and we all need to create and build our relationships to help us achieve improved performance – that’s the same across the piece whether it’s looking for sales, looking for that elusive deal, or out there looking for work – its relationships we all need.

So what do we do about it?

Well, judging by my junk mail and the constant cold calls it feels like it must all be about selling – they tell me they have a great deal for me, they say they have the best products in the market and they say that they would be model employees.

But stop, hold on a minute…….. what about me?

Do I want that deal, that product or that employee?

Well they certainly don’t know; they never asked. And that’s the point, they never stopped to ask me what it was I wanted, how they could add value to my life and to my business. Yes the economy is tight and most of us are strapped for cash, companies and individuals, but perhaps if we all just paused for a second and stopped selling and instead started listening, listening to what would actually add value to the customer, then we might start to build relationships based on trust and mutual respect – and we might just stand a much better chance of success.

And finally; for my cold caller this morning….NO, I really am not interested in a great offer on hair straighteners!

If you would like a conversation to see how I might be able to add value for you, please feel free to Contact Me

(Originally posted May 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

IT'S ALL ABOUT SERVICE

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The brain is clearly in holiday mood, made all the more intense by a visit to the Destinations holiday event at Earls Court last weekend - resulting in a booking made this morning. Poland here we come…..well we will be in September.

There are lots of reasons why we booked Poland but how did we come to chose Regent Travel as our tour operator?

Anyone who has had to suffer me retelling the stories of our holiday to Russia last year with Regent will know that all did not go well. However the issues were in country and not the fault of Regent at all. They went out of their way to resolve everything and before we had even taken off for a return home had offered compensation. Their handling of our complaint was absolutely first class.

And so faced with a range of not dissimilar tours to Poland there was one clear reason to go with Regent - it was not the website or the advertising it was down to one very simple thing - Service.

Enough said for now…..need to get ready for the airport!

(Originally posted February 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

WHICH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT - PROCESS OR PEOPLE?

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Several years back I was working on a multi million pound project to improve end to end supply chain, delivering efficiency benefits through slick processes in stores.


On this particular day I had travelled to Leeds to find out how that store was managing to get better results than our other trial sites.

The manager and staff showed us around the store and sure enough it lived up to what we had seen in our reports; availability was high and inventory levels were low. “So what are you doing instead of our processes?” I asked.

The manager looked at the shelf stockist and the shelf stockist looked to me. “It’s easy” she said.

“When I’m at home I’m able to make decisions on all sorts of things. Last year we had a new addition to the family so we took out a mortgage for a larger home. This year our baby is now able to travel a bit more so we have booked a touring holiday in France with our new motor home.  All of these decisions were made by me”


She went on “I am more than capable of making significant decisions in my personal life and yet you don’t think I am capable of working out for myself if the baked beans are out of stock in Aisle 4!”


The processes had been fully implemented but the difference in this store was that anywhere they stipulated the manager had to make a judgement he had delegated that judgement to the people with the most knowledge – the staff.


Now why didn’t we think of that?

It’s all about people and process!

(Originally posted February 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

DO CUSTOMERS FALL FOR RE-BRANDING?

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It was a nice normal morning; a bowl of cereal and a strong cup of coffee while watching Breakfast News!

Skegness should change its name to boost its image…. a tourism expert has said” echoed the voice of the BBC.

OK, so it’s early, perhaps the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet; I couldn’t have heard right. I listen carefully and it becomes clear that I most certainly have.

Why is it being suggested?

“…to attract a wealthier market and changing its name would be a cost effective way of reinventing the town” we were told. If we follow the same logic we could re-brand a can of peas as baked beans and hey presto we will all be putting them on toast! Clearly not!  Customers are not daft; so called experts can give the town whatever branding they like but they should never believe that it will cover up for any deficiencies in the offer itself.

Straightforward honesty is the name of the game. If the brand on offer is a "Traditional British resort with a fabulous beach, great caravan parks and wonderful amusements" then sell it for that. If Skegness has baggage and is perceived as grotty (as we were told in the report) then sorting that out is the first priority, closely followed by telling potential customers that it’s been addressed.
 
Of course there will be circumstances where re-branding is the answer but any branding solution has to be in harmony and have integrity with the brand itself if customer perception is to match brand reality.

Please contact us if you would like any advice on re-branding

(Originally posted January 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

DOES TECHNOLOGY LEAD TO AN IMPROVED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

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OK; so you completed installation of a new state of the art EPoS system some months back and your supply chain system is the best in town. So, is everyone happy?

Well, you checked that the system does what it said it would, during the user acceptance phase. And, during end-to-end testing, you checked that the data flows through to the accounts and through to the supply chain network.

And yet your customers are now complaining of poor availability…and your inventory is showing no sign of reducing. What’s more, your staff are blaming the new system.

Sound familiar?

In my experience it’s unlikely to be the system; more likely it’s going to be about people and process. Did you implement new processes which are robust and which integrate with your new system? If the answer is yes, were your people fully trained and are they still operating with the new processes?  Whatever your answer, I’m very experienced in identifying integrated processes and implementing them to achieve optimum availability and stockholding as well as improved productivity.

If you would like me to help you get more out of your technology, and improve your bottom line, or you would just like some sound pragmatic advice Contact Us

(Originally posted January 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

SHOULD CUSTOMER SERVICE INCLUDE BEING TOLD OFF - YOU DECIDE!

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With 12th night behind us, last weekend was time to put the Christmas decs away.

This year I decided I was going to learn from the mistake I made last year, and that meant I wanted some nice new archive boxes to store the decs safely away - if I get it right perhaps I won’t have to spend a whole evening unravelling tinsel from fairy lights!

OK…. Google search…. archive boxes… found…… Reserve online…….. sounds like a plan. Reserved…. collect today.

Off to the shop we go suitably prepared with reservation documents and credit card in hand.

You’ve arrived too early; not ready till 3, I suppose I can let you off this time” says the lady at Customer Services. “This time” - did she really expect there would be a next time? I smile politely (yes really), pay, & pick up my boxes & leave.

Anyway, the decs are now away in the new boxes and they stand every chance of surviving the summer.

However, I fear that survival of the high street and out of town retailers is going to be less promising if something is not done soon to provide customers with real service!

(Originally posted January 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

CUSTOMER SERVICE - HOW DO WE TURN THE ADVERTISING INTO REALITY?

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Thanks for all of the kind feedback & offers regarding my attempt at getting the retailer to fit my 3 TV’s. We received the call last week to come & collect the TV’s & brackets and have spent this afternoon fitting them!

Apart from being £300 better off I feel rather pleased with my TV installation ability!!

While collectring the TV’s I thought I would purchase a camera which I could use underwater. While there were a couple of cameras to choose from the shop assistants were more interested in the alarm system than in helping me. When asked about the memorary card it required the best I got was "it probably takes…….“ Hopeless. Further questions and then the assistant declares that the camera is out of stock anyway & he does not know when more will be arriving. 

Thankfully on return home I investigated with an online retailer who had every piece of technical information I could wish for…… and the camera is being delivered to my home next week, £20 cheaper than the shop price!

As I keep saying, if the high street, and out of town outlets for that matter, are going to survive, now is the time to turn the advertsing into reality - the customer servive mantra must be turned into reality. 

It’s all about people and process!

(Originally posted January 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

CUSTOMER SERVICE - GOING THE EXTRA MILE

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Who would have thought that paying to fill your car up with diesel could leave you with a smile on your face?
 
Despite being 80 quid lighter afterwards, the Shell service station in Bracknell has proved it is perfectly possible.

Picture the scene; its New Years eve, there is only one operator on the till and every driver in Berkshire seems to have spontaneously descended upon this one station!

No tricks or gimmicks, just an operator with a focus on customer service. He opens a second till so he can continue to serve while online payments are processed. While switching between tills he reassures and apologises to us as we queue, and finally he manages to close the transaction with a very genuine smile and a “Happy New Year”.

As I said in my previous blog, in a world of multi channel marketing it strikes me that while we are focused on all things technology we are losing sight of what sets the retail shopping experience apart. But in this case it was not a high street store, or even an out of town retailer, just one well trained and motivated petrol station assistant working on his own on New Years who went that extra mile!

If the high street, and out of town outlets for that matter, are going to survive, now is the time to turn the “we offer great service” mantra into reality.

(Originally posted January 2012)

Posted 334 weeks ago

CUSTOMER SERVICE - IS IT STILL A RETAIL USP?

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As we headed to the shops yesterday, (armed with significant cash - Christmas has been generous!) we thought the high street would be able to offer us something the Internet could not - personal service.

So what was it that we could not just purchase online? Firstly, we wanted an SLR camera bag. Nothing too complicated in that, except that in additional to the camera and usual paraphernalia, it also had to house 1 very large telephoto lens. We'd looked online but the technical descriptions were just not enough to be certain if all the items would fit comfortably. We also wanted an electronic remote control for the camera too.

Finally, we wanted to buy 3 TV’s. Again, nothing complicated here either; we just wanted to be able to buy the TV’s with suitable mounting brackets and have the retailer fit them for us.

So, laden with camera and assorted lenses, we headed off to the high street in search of said bag……sadly we were to be disappointed.

The bag fixture at the “specialist retailer” was less than impressive, with more gaps than a badly knitted jumper, and many products labelled with the wrong description and price. Eventually we spotted a possible candidate and so, wedged in between a bank of digital photo processing booths and the bag fixture, we juggled with the proposed contents to see if they would fit. Sadly not, so we went to the counter to see if they stocked the larger version of the bag (we had seen one online during preliminary investigations), however "No" was the best answer the assistant could muster. And no attempt to offer their “specialist retailer” advice to identify other options.

On to the electronic remote control. No better; he returned from the fixture armed with an old fashioned camera remote cable; not quite the same! “Do you not have the electronic ones?” we probed, only to be met with the same automated response “No”.

End of photographic shopping experience!

So, off we go to buy TV’s! Following a couple of unsuccessful visits to smaller independents, who simply did not have what we were looking for, we headed out of town.
 
Store One. Bingo we thought. The right product; right size, right features and at the right price…..can we see it in action please?

Thirty minutes pass before an assistant becomes available; he presses some buttons and the TV screen springs into life. Stood admiring it in silence we ask for the sound to be turned up - not possible he says, the shop is not set up for sound!

He tells us that the best thing to do is to go to the shop next door where they will have it set up for sound! In a moment of what must have been punch drunk madness on my part I ask about fitting; “We don’t fit tellies if they are less that 32 inches” he says. I reminded him that we would be purchasing 3 TV’s but he was not going to budge….off to Store Two.

Result; the same TV is on display - switched on so we could see it….and the sound worked too…….and the price including brackets was slightly cheaper…..BINGO!
 
Even better a beaming assistant is on hand to help us. We explain our requirements: 3 TV’s and 3 brackets; all fitted, and she heads off to check things out. She returns - fitting is £100………per TV.  I asked what they would offer for fitting 3 TV’s…….£300 she said….but they can discount by £45 if we take out product protection! Unusually, words fail us.

After some thought (including where we have stored our hammer drill)  we decided we could fit them ourselves and that we would go ahead with the purchase - how better to start the new year than with a bit of DIY?!

Further investigation finds that they only have the display model instock, and the brackets would have to be ordered in too ….and by the way the shelf edge tickets for the brackets show the wrong price.

So what was the end result? We've purchased the 3 TV’s and the brackets and we now await a phone call within the next 2 weeks to advise when they will be available for us to collect………ermm thinking about it we could have done that online and had home delivery!

In a world of multi channel marketing it strikes me that while we are focused on all things technology we are losing sight of what sets the retail shopping experience apart. How many people were like me yesterday, armed with their Christmas cash and with a real desire to make substantial purchases only to find that shops are just not prepared to help us spend it.

If the high street, and out of town outlets for that matter, are going to survive, now is the time to turn the “we offer great service” mantra into reality.

It’s all about people and process!

(Originally posted December 2011)

Posted 335 weeks ago