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It’s a sad, sad situation

Last week my friends and I had a not terribly good lunch in a fairly trendy restaurant right here in Toronto. My guest found her food (specifically the ham that accompanied her $30 (tax included) ham and eggs brunch entrée) to be inedible, and said so to the waitperson. The waitperson assured us he would transmit the message to “them” (presumably the manager or the chef). When he returned with the chef, he mentioned, when asked, that they had been surprised that the ham was so bad because they used the best local suppliers. That’s it – no other comment, no apology, no make-good and no manager’s solicitous attention.

Fortunately I am an experienced hospitality and knew exactly what to do to get the manager’s attention: I tweeted!

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No surprise, within an hour I received a response from the manager

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I called the following day and this gentleman was out, but had left a message that if I called they should give me his email and I could email him. Which I did. Without belaboring the point, the manager responded to my email with a well worded, obviously thought through apology and a $100 gift certificate.

How sad is it that in this era of Social Media the only way to get the attention of management is by tweeting. Think about it – we were in the restaurant, probably 25ft away from a (or the) manager, but we were unable to get their attention. One tweet, bounced off twitter servers thousands of miles away, gets immediate attention. This is clearly wrong (not to mention expensive – had the restaurant responded while we were in the place, they would at the most have had to discount the meal by the $30. The twitter fetish cost the organization, in this case, $70 and a whole bunch of credibility.

But, this is not a unique case. I knew exactly what would happen if I resorted to twitter. I have heard people tell me that it is easier and quicker to get clean towels in their hotel room by tweeting than by calling housekeeping; and I know of numerous occasions in which people tweet dissatisfaction with hotel rooms and receive compensation (in the form of loyalty points) within minutes.

Those of us in the business of engineering memorable customer experiences have a duty to change this sad situation. The reality is that negative tweets do not really impact business (for the most part, unless they are substantial comments such as: the place has rats that eat off the kitchen tables before the food comes out!). However, guests leaving with a bad taste in their mouths will definitely not return and probably tell their real-world friends not to go there either.

After all, a real-world bird in the hand is better than a flock of twitters!

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New Post | WordPress.com

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The likelihood of losing an account for an agency is in direct proportion to the quality of the advertising!

Sad, but seemingly true*. Three account moves come to mind:

Wind Mobile, moved from Clean Sheet to MacLaren following the most successful mobile launch in Canada’s history and a record breaking year for the brand, exceeding all targets.

TD moves from DRAFT to Leo following (or in the midst of) what is undeniably the best, most sustained, most integrated and most actualized financial service advertising anywhere in the world (and, honestly, I should know).

Juniper Park loses Tropicana in spite of winning awards for advertising (see previous post).

There are numerous other examples, which I won’t dredge out, but we all know what and who they are.

On the other hand, there is no relationship between terrible advertising and being fired. Weird, huh?

What’s the lesson: agencies beware of excellence.

*Some may say this is an extreme generalization; others might say the line between extreme generalization and brilliant insights is, at best, murky.

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5 | For Facebook, Frank Gehry Designs A Paradise For 2,800 Engineers | — All Open Concept (On Steroids!!)

 

5 | For Facebook, Frank Gehry Designs A Paradise For 2,800 Engineers | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

 

The amazing thing is this entire complex is nothing but one big room. The image above shows all the little desks and stuff, andthe image below shows what it looks like form the outside. This is not unlike a concept he brought to Chiat Day in the late 1990’s (not sure if they ever actually built it).

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We asked people who stay at Four Seasons Hotels whether they would rather have their room cleaned or $10 off the room rate on their next trip…

And they told us! Nearly 7 out of 10 said they would rather have the $10! What does this mean for the hotel industry? What does this mean for the maids who perform the housekeeping services? Good lord!

 

Check out the study — there’s a lot of detail, and we can provide more specifics on request.


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Filed under: Hospitality and Tourism, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Furniture giant IKEA to enter European design hotel market. ~ Thursday, 16th August 2012 from 4Hoteliers

Furniture giant IKEA to enter European design hotel market. ~ Thursday, 16th August 2012 from 4Hoteliers.

No, really? Seriously? Are the rooms flat-packed and designed for self-assembly with one critical part missing from each box? Will they name the room types with moronic quasi-Scandinavian monikers and serve Swedish meatballs in the cafeteria.

Can’t wait!

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Starwood: social media customer service done right — or, has SM eaten our brains?

Starwood: social media customer service done right | VentureBeat.

This story is bizarre on so many levels I can hardly start. Without reading it, although it’s worth the read, the short form is: boy goes to hotel, hotel internet slow, boy tweets hotel that internet is slow, hotel sends wine and chocolates. Boy then writes comment on Venturebeat.

So, what’s wrong with this?

First of all, why is it that if the internet is slow — or, let’s say doesn’t work, or perhaps the toilet is broken — and the guest calls down to “guest services,” or “anywhere, anytime,” or whatever, the best that happens is that the internet gets fixed (and maybe, just maybe, on a good day, in the summer, when the sun shines, the hotel will waive the daily internet fee for one day), or the toilet gets fixed, and that’s the end of it. But when it’s tweeted, no matter how minor the transgression, the hotel spends real money to give wine and bon-bons to the poor, suffering guest? (sorry, long sentence, tweet me and I’ll send you something to make it all better).

Are we really moving into a world where customer service is only available on the threat of global humiliation by means of twitter? I know of people who have this figured out and rather than fill out comment cards, tweet their comments to the world in general, certain that they will get a quick response and some disproportionate compensation. Hell, I know of people who do this even when there is nothing wrong with the service or accommodation, simply so they can get another 300 or 400 SPG points or whatever. Then, they negotiate the number of points on Twitter.

But, there’s more!

As you can see, the offer from the hotel was beer and snacks (shabby chic!) or wine and strawberries (traditional decadence). Rakesh (if I may call him that) asked for wine and strawberries. The hotel delivered, wine and chocolates! Hello!

I know not what this means, except that something has gone awfully awry: the obsession with social media has reached the point where response to guest issues is completely disproportionate to the problem and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of whack with non-social media hotel responses. Of course, if, as is likely, the guest in question fell into the Starwood super-regular guest category, and the whole thing had nothing to do with guest service but everything to do with high-yield customer retention, then it’s just confusing and distorting)

Whatever it is, it will lead to tears. Mark my words.

Filed under: Hospitality and Tourism, Uncategorized, , , ,

Sears Canada names Unitas as new AOR | Has the world gone barking mad

Sears Canada names Unitas as new AOR | Marketing Magazine.

Nobody, really, had ever heard of Unitas Reputation Management/Services/Communication/Agency (their online SEA doesn’t seem to include focus), except presumably the wise men at Sears. But it’s nice and it’s a start-up and their “context” is, of course, brilliant (who would have thought of trying to get enthusiasm for the clients among “all the people who influence their success – customers, employees, allies* and investors?) Of course, it’s entirely possible that searching for these search experts will lead to another Unitas Communication Reputation Management agency, altogether, but that’s probably an intentional oversight.

Try to guess which Unitas is the Unitas Sears are hooking up with. It’s hard to believe that these guys did not Google the name to see how many other companies by the name of Unitas co-opted the “Reputation Management” discipline (from its original PR application and it’s down market cousin, “Online Reputation Management”).

Actually, there can be no doubt that Unitas Communication (US) Unitas Reputation (Canada — see, I got it finally, communication versus reputation, not confusing at all) are excellent at managing reputation and creating enthusiasm (although, to be honest, again, I thoroughly doubt the Canadian version has any clue how to change the culture of an organization as culturally entrenched as Sears, but, hey, it’s worth a try).

But, whatever happened to retail marketing! What makes great retailers great? It starts with unique, relevant merchandise. Ask the Sears hardware and automotive merchandisers. If you don’t sell it, they won’t buy it, no-matter how enthusiastic you or anybody else is. Then, it’s useful to be where the customer is, location, both real and virtual. Then, it’s important to tell the potential customers that you have the stuff they want (and stuff they don’t want — remember surprise and delight) where they want to buy it. this is an old-fashioned idea, called advertising (call it whatever you want, but it’s advertising and without it you’re fxcked). Then, you need to manage the relative value proposition: is the sticker price they pay right taking into account the quality of the merchandise, the satisfaction (may I say it, enjoyment) of the experience, the after-sales promise and all of this relative to the competition.

Brand is the degree to whether this entire experience is positively imbeded as an expectation — if it is, you will be heard and believed, if not, you will be ignored or, worse, disbelieved, disdained and dismissed. Enthusiastically, probably.

Internal branding — not a new idea at all — is critical at all phases, because of the importance of the experience. But so is advertising, brand and tactical. Or, perhaps none of them — take Costco as an example, they do neither and they’re not doing too badly.

My point? It’s just plain weird for a retailer whose business is falling through the floor (or not — Sears business falls and rises like a yo-yo) to hire an agency that prides itself on the po-mo fad of “reputation” management, and to do this over the phone without benefit of a review!!

I might agree with the man from Sears that they can’t advertise their way out of the hole (or not-hole). But they can’t reputationise themselves out of it either. A real review, based on a real brief resulting from deep and honest soul-searching, among the leading experts in retail turnaround (and, if they aren’t in Canada, then wherever they are) would have been the right thing to do: right by the people who work for them who (in addition to being enthusiastic) want to be employed; right by the shareholders who have some legitimate concerns that they are expressing in radical ways (and if this is about a LBO, then they are even more in the wrong direction — think “fill the till”); right by the communities they are in (that can really do without losing more jobs and stores); right by the country (we really don’t need to see another brand bite the dust); and, of course, right by their customers (who, let’s face facts, in the end don’t give a damn because they can always get exactly the same stuff elsewhere — except maybe with less enthusiasm).

In honour of the time-honoured tradition of go and see what the people who are winning are doing, Sears might wander over to The Bay and see what they’re doing. I doubt Bonnie Brooks or Richard Baker (Lord and Taylor and HBC) will be turning over their marketing communications and consumer strategy to a “reputation agency” on the basis of a phone call. But then, perhaps the enthusiasm for success at the management level is such that they are fixated with getting it right the first time.

One other point of free advice: if this is about Target, then forget about high-minded meaningless “reputation management” crap and get back to basics with a new, exciting and revolutionary twist. Ask yourself: how many people who have been to Target start off by saying “I was in a store that was so amazing, you have to go there, it has incredibly enthusiastic people” [actually, if anything, the Target people are its weak point]. The answer is NONE, ZIP, NADA. But how many people say: “I was in Target and they had the most incredible selection of exactly what I was looking for. And the prices were really great. And then I saw this outfit, wow, I was amazed, didn’t think they had it. And have you seen their ads.”

*By the way, what’s with this “Allies” silliness in the “context”?

Filed under: Are they stupid or just mean: design idiocy in action, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Silly me: I thought only gay or straight could be determined by the length of index fingers

Obama vs Romney: Their Hormonal Quotient® Makes The Difference | DervalResearch.

I have heard much about the influence of testosterone and estrogen in the mother’s womb on characteristics (physical and emotional). Specifically whether somebody is gay or straight (oddly enough I never thought this was all that outlandish, but then I tend to believe most of what I hear). But this is the first window into a world of “applied prenatal hormonization (my name, sorry).” And fascinating it is!

In fact, based on my own index finger and ring finger (ringless probably because of the relationship between the two) I learned the following about myself: my HQ is “estrogen” and I share this trait with Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood. I am a trend setter, I am diplomatic. I am meticulous. I am also cheap, as I did not order the full $29, 15 page Hormonal Quotient® Estrogen Report.

The link above will take you to an analysis of the presidential contenders based on their assumed finger lengths (I doubt either volunteered the exact measurements of their index and ring fingers).

The applications of this marketing are obvious. I can see grand segmentation plans based on the length of index fingers, and I am quite excited at the prospect of conducting focus groups among very testosterone Hormonal Quotient® persons (which would include, apparently, most US Presidents, Angela Merkel and of course, Margaret Thatcher. While there is nothing on the site to confirm this, I would imagine that most Canadian Prime Ministers fall on the estrogen side of the Hormonal Quotient®.

Click on the picture to take your own Hormonal Quotient Test.

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, Uncategorized, , , ,

Killing good ideas can harm your future – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/v/D3c9YSrNRgY?version=3&hl=en_US

via Killing good ideas can harm your future – YouTube.

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