Archive for the ‘Handling Complaints’ Category

Protection for (or from) Whistleblowers!

November 29, 2017

Protecting the Whistleblower

Frances Fitzgerald, the Tanaiste has resigned “for the sake of the country“..

Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach has thanked her, for her service and has declared that it is a shame that a good woman who has done nothing wrong has resigned..

Fianna Faíl have got their way and they will quietly sit in the wings waiting, waiting, waiting until the perfect moment to pull that trigger.  They exercised their power in a big, public gesture and won this power battle..

Noel Waters, Secretary-General of the Department of Justice has decided to take early retirement and he is angry about the witch hunt against the organisation that he has been in charge of..

Noírín O’Sullivan, the Garda Commissioner, who was publicly supported by the Government retired in September (after her holidays!)..

A devious, nasty campaign against Maurice McCabe, the Garda Whistleblower, Parking Fines, Breath Tests – the whole thing is a shambles, a debacle of monumental proportions and yet at this moment in time no one is saying sorry and no one seems to be doing anything to sort anything out.

One of the critical instruments of the State, our police force, is totally out of control and no one is taking any responsibility – “I did nothing wrong“…The problem is that you did nothing!!!

But, phew..the crisis has been averted for now and there will be no General Election this side of Christmas – we can all get on with our shopping.

But..what about the Whistleblower??

Somewhere in the mix, the whole point of all of this seems to have gone over everyone’s heads.

What about Maurice McCabe??

Have we heard anyone in authority saying (in a manner that we believe them) that we will not put up with any corruption in our State organisations as it will not be tolerated and any whistleblower will get all of our protection?

Have we heard anyone apologising publicly to Maurice McCabe?

Instead we have listened to horrendous stories of legal strategies against him and “it wasn’t in my jurisdiction to interfere“.

In this country we have legislation that was enacted in 2014 to protect Whistleblowers.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 aims to protect people who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace. The Act, which came into effect on 15 July 2014. It provides for redress for employees who are dismissed or otherwise penalised for having reported possible wrongdoing in the workplace. 

Some of the detail:

(from the Citizens Information Board website)

Under the Act, you make a protected disclosure if you are a worker and you disclose relevant information in a particular way.

Information is relevant if it came to your attention in connection with your work and you reasonably believe that it tends to show wrongdoing.

This wrongdoing may be occurring or suspected to be occurring either inside or outside of the country. Even if the information is proved to be incorrect, you are still protected by the Act provided you had a reasonable belief in the information.

Wrongdoing is widely defined in the Act and includes the commission of criminal offences, failure to comply with legal obligations, endangering the health and safety of individuals, damaging the environment, miscarriage of justice, misuse of public funds, and oppressive, discriminatory, grossly negligent or grossly mismanaged acts or omissions by a public body.

The definition also includes the concealment or destruction of information about any of the above wrongdoing.

The Act gives people anonymity, it describes how people should go about making a Protected Disclosure and it outlines how the Employer must act when presented with a disclosure.

All of this sounds great in practice, and there will be a poor sod who actually believes it and goes about reporting something they feel morally bound to do!! (Ssssh..if he/she was a friend or work colleague of yours what would you whisper in their ear?).

The Big Question?

So, taking the whole recent circus into account, lets be really honest here for a moment.

If you were in the scenario, working for a State body and who felt strongly about some bad crap or “wrongdoing” that was going on where you worked what would you do?

I’m guessing you would either shut up and say nothing (and perpetuate the problem) or just leave.

We have all learnt a big lesson – don’t complain!!

This is a wonderful country..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Ryanair – The bit that comes before the Crisis

September 25, 2017

Ryanair - Always Getting Better

Early last week we were asked to comment by the publication Fora.ie about the whole Ryanair fiasco and what we thought of how they handled their crisis.

In a crisis situation we always advise –

  • Don’t hide
  • Quickly establish the facts
  • Be 100% truthful
  • Always provide a solution (or a least be honest about working hard to find one)
  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry (as long as you mean it)
  • Don’t be shy about telling people the good things you are doing

This can be achieved with a combination of holding statements, follow up statements, interviews and implementing any necessary changes.

In the case of Ryanair there wasn’t really a formal apology but Michael O’Leary was door stopped by reporters and did say it was “clearly a mess” but he went on to point out that it was just 2% of their passengers that had been affected. I think Michael is missing the point here about focussing on the good things!

On their website where they have a page dedicated to the cancelled flights they also remind people of this “2%” as well as listing the flights that have been cancelled. They also provide a ‘link’ to a page that directs people to an EU legislation document about entitlements to refunds and compensation.

The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t appear anywhere!

Ryanair - Cancelled Flights

Understandably customers are irate – Ryanair are not helping the situation by drip feeding news about cancelled flights, their customer contact lines not being managed efficiently and are still overheating their situation by promoting flights at “€19.99”.

Furthermore, they have been denying that part of the problem is pilots leaving to take jobs in other airlines.

This scenario has got even worse with pilots going public with their gripes and painting a pretty awful picture about what life is like working for the ‘low care’ airline.

All of this comes at a time when the airline has been trying to refocus it’s brand with their “Always Getting Better” campaign.

A different scenario? 

So – would it have made a difference if Ryanair were upfront, issued a formal apology and showed genuine empathy with inconvenienced customers and were honest about solutions and assurances going forward?

The answer would be a big “Yes” but there is also a big “But” to contend with.

The effectiveness of this approach will depend on what people feel about the company when embarks on such a course –

  • Do people feel warmly towards the airline?
  • Do they believe that there is a genuine concern for customers?
  • Do they believe that staff at the airline are treated well?
  • Do they believe that this company does charitable work?
  • Do they believe there is a strong moral compass at the airline?
  • Have they communicated the great things (if such things exist) they have been doing to the general public and stakeholders?

Maybe realising this Michael felt there was no point pretending to care?

In a crisis a robust process will definitely help but the best preparation for a crisis is to be good and do good things and communicate this effectively – it is only then that people will be willing to listen to your apology and accept it.

Leopards don’t change their spots and not caring will bite you in the butt eventually.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis Consultancy Services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

The same ticket but not the same

April 16, 2017

We were on the North East Corridor train heading out from Penn Station in New York to Metro Park in New Jersey to spend a few days with my brother Colin and his family.

On a commuter train to suburbia it’s hard not to observe the other passengers and wonder about their stories and their lives.

There was a guy sitting across from us, I’m guessing in his twenties dressed all in black with headphones on – every now and then he would sing along in Spanish. Many of the public signs here are in English and Spanish, which surprised me.

There was an African American guy, again in his twenties wearing a green hoodie and a baseball cap under that, also listening to his music.

An older guy sat alongside us wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a grey top and an unusual pair of Crocs on his feet. He also had a crutch so this probably explained the footwear. He looked a little dishevelled so maybe he wasn’t having the best of days.

The ticket collector came around – he takes your ticket, then produces another ticket, punches a hole in this and then clips it behind you under a little metal clip. He does this for each of the people around us.

He comes to the guy next to us, the grey tracksuit guy, who takes his ticket from under his sock and produces it for inspection.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer tells him. The passenger looks confused.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer repeats, this time with a little more intent.

He looks confused and asks “Why?”

I’m not touching that, it’s been in your sock” he says.

The poor guy in the tracksuit never felt better I’m sure. His bad day, week, month, year or decade was confirmed in front of his fellow travellers and he quietly accepted this instruction and tore his ticket in half.

The ticket officer was able to go ahead with his job without having to touch the offensive ticket.

This was an unpleasant and unnecessary exchange between two strangers and at what cost?

Would it have been so hard just to take the piece of paper from this fellow human being and treat it like all those other pieces of paper, equally and with respect?

However, we are not equal.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The speeding fine and the wrong address?

February 18, 2017

garda-camera

The first I knew I had been caught speeding coming out of Dublin last year was when Dee called me.

A Garda had knocked on the door of our house with a Court Summons – she was working from home that Tuesday.

He remarked that “you are never at home” as this was his fourth time calling!

Dee called me immediately as according to the summons I was due in Naas Courthouse the following Thursday week. Not only had I been caught doing 113 in a 100 stretch of the motorway leaving Dublin but I had also neglected to pay the resulting fine!

There was obviously an error as I had never even received the speeding fine.

I called the phone number for An Garda Síochána that was on the summons and as expected I was put through to some call centre.

I explained to the woman on the phone that I was more than happy to pay my fine but I had never received the notice so a court appearance should not be necessary.

Do you not send a follow up reminder, like one would get with a phone bill or any other bill?” I asked her.

No, we send one fine notice by regular post and if you don’t pay we automatically start a court process” she explained.

This is totally crazy, how can you rely on regular post with something so serious? I pay my bills, I was one of the stupid idiots who actually paid their water charges! Who can I talk to?

I was quickly given the usual “there is nothing I can do” line and was told to ring the court. I asked her if a lot of people ring with the same issue and she admitted it is a regular occurrence.

Change the stupid process maybe?!!

postman

I tried calling the court phone number she gave me and failed miserably to get past their answering machine – I guessed that would have been another pointless round of “there is nothing I can do” so I gave up.

A quick call to my solicitor confirmed that this bullshit system is what it is and the best advice was to attend at 10:30 as indicated.

Brilliant…a trip to Naas on a busy workday is all I needed!

I changed around my week so that I could make my court date. I left Cork early for Naas on the Thursday. I hoped the whole thing would be done quickly so I could make a meeting in Dublin in the afternoon. I told my client I might be delayed and quite frankly I was embarrassed about the whole court thing so I didn’t mention why.

As expected the court was a hive of activity with every sort hanging around, with many huddled in corners chatting to their solicitors.

The court clerk directed me to the lists on the wall. I was number 51 on the list in Court 1. I asked her if there was any chance that I would be gone by lunchtime. She expected I would be.

I made my way into the packed courtroom and found myself a space to sit on one of the many wooden benches. There was a very mixed crowd in the room including a bunch of tough looking lads in tracksuits near the front of the court.

The Judge got into the flow of his day with breakneck speed processing case after case.

The names were called and as each person approached the bench he shouted “Hearing date” at them.

That was the prompt to admit to the charge in question or look for a case date. It was clear that 90% of the cases were speeding fines and he flew through them one after another.

59 in a 50 – “sorry Judge, I was on holidays and missed the deadline for paying” – case dismissed!

146 in a 120 – “guilty” – “that’s a 300 euro fine. You have 6 months to pay

There was an interruption to the speeding fines to deal with one of the tough looking young lads that was in the court. It was hard to hear the conversation between the Judge and the barrister but it resulted in a hearing date and the young lad was led out of the court in handcuffs. It looked like he was quite used to this environment.

An older woman’s name was called and she shuffled to the top of the room on her bad legs “Hearing date” …”I have two already” was her response. She thought he said “hearing aid“. The whole court room giggled as well as the judge.

She received a fine.

Another poor old man who clearly needed a hearing aid tried to explain that he had paid his fine but it got lost in the post. “Case dismissed

The man was told he didn’t have to pay his fine.

Was I missing something – why not pay the fine?

Eventually my name was called and I made my way to the top of the courtroom. “Hearing date?

I accept the speeding charge but I never received the fine, your honour” I explained.

Do you want a hearing date?” he repeated.

I repeated what I said and he asked me again about a hearing date.

I’m happy to pay a fine but I didn’t receive a notice

The Judge looked at me and paused and asked carefully if I had taken legal advice and I explained that my advice was that I should attend. He gave me a look.

I was clearly missing something.

He offered to swear me into evidence at the end of the court sitting as a way to resolve this. I explained to him that I just needed to get to Dublin and was okay with paying a fine.

150 euros fine” and then he said the strangest thing “did you ever hear the expression ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’?

Was he saying I could have got away without paying a fine – surely not?

As I walked out of the court, anxious to make my appointment in Dublin, a guy grabbed my arm and enlightened me.

You just cost yourself extra penalty points. It’s all or nothing, he was giving you a way out!

It’s all or nothing – the judge can’t insist on you paying a fine and waive the second part, which is the extra penalty for not paying. This stupid system is costing the country as the judge must dismiss the case and waive the speeding fine or else charge you in full!

Damn – I messed up.

While I was totally frustrated at this point I had to be happy with my decision to get out of there and make my client meeting.

This system is totally crazy – one fine by regular post that never reached me, no reminders, four house calls by a busy Garda, a court wasting valuable time and resources and I wasted a whole day including the cost of travel.

I guarantee 100% that if you drove through the M50 auto toll heading to Dublin airport and you did not pay your toll fee then they would track you down with notices, reminders and further notices.

The following day I read how the government agency, Tusla sent a written apology to the Garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe because of their fiasco with the false sex accusations. Ironically the whistle blowing was about members of the Gardaí squashing speeding fines.

Their apology went to the wrong address!

There is a of time being wasted by An Garda Siochána and the courts because of really poor systems that results in ordinary folk being dragged unfairly to court on nonsense charges..come on!!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agencu that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Dyson – Rising to the Customer Service Challenge

October 4, 2015

Dyson Customer Service

Back in January our Dyson vacuum cleaner packed up and we were more than happy to replace it with another one. It’s a brand I really believe in, so much so that I wrote a blog about it called ‘Hoovering and Storytelling‘.

Three weeks ago we had a problem with our relatively new Dyson so we rang the customer service number and after a very straight forward, quibble free process the offending part would be replaced and delivered to us. The promise was that we would have it within ‘10 working days‘.

To be honest I thought 10 working days was quite a long time for a part they said was in stock but at least they were going to replace it and in the meantime we would manage.

Three weeks passed and there was no sign of our part so we called the Dyson customer service number. They had a record of our transaction and confirmed that due to a system glitch the part had not been dispatched. The operative was very polite, very apologetic but explained that unfortunately we were back at the beginning of the process again and a replacement part would take up to 10 working days to get to us.

It was time to take a stand and explain that this really wasn’t good enough.

Without getting argumentative we asked the operative if there was some way of expediting the delivery of our part. He told us he needed to check with his supervisor so he put us on hold briefly. After about two minutes he came back to us and confirmed that while the circumstances were unfortunate there was “nothing they could do“.

I detest those words because quite simply there is always something that can be done. ‘There is nothing I can do is a choice about what you are prepared to do, a choice about what is acceptable.

This was the system.

There is nothing I can do

We left him know that we weren’t happy and that surely there is ‘always something that can be done‘? Nope ..

We had exhausted the ‘official channel‘ so we reluctantly reverted to twitter to vocalise our disappointment with the Dyson brand.

Immediately the Dyson social media team reacted and wanted to know what happened. Without too much fuss they confirmed that what happened wasn’t good enough, that it wasn’t consistent with the Dyson culture so they would investigate our situation immediately and check with the customer service team.

They thanked us for highlighting a ‘flaw‘ in their customer service procedures, which they would take on board as a learning. Instead of waiting 10 days for a replacement part a new, better machine would be delivered to us in three working days.

With all of our businesses we have to make decisions on a regular basis about how we handle complaints. What do we do, how quick do we respond, what is fair – what do we decide is acceptable?

Things will inevitably go wrong from time to time and while we all hate complaints we need to make a decision about how we deal with them. A complaint is a great way to show the real ethos of your business and instead of saying ‘there is nothing I can do‘ we need to embrace the issue, do our very best and learn from it.

If you were cynical you might decide that Dyson reacted because the issue was highlighted on a public social media platform but I do believe they were genuine and they rose to the Customer Service Challenge. Instead of being a negative for the brand it is a positive. My faith is restored!

Well done Dyson ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

“Don’t worry, I own your problem now”

May 31, 2015

Taking ownership of a problem

We had a really interesting networking session at the recent Business Owners Network event at Dublin Chamber.

This group of business owners meet pretty much every second Friday morning, bright and early from 7:30 am till 9am. The sessions always involve some informal networking over a coffee and normally there is a guest speaker about some topic of interest.

(I would highly recommend it to business owners in Dublin – great for networking, learning, contacts and new business)

At our recent session, which I was privileged to chair we did some formal networking by breaking the room into circles of six people allowing each person a proper chance to share with the others what they do. At the session we also looked for people to share their number one business tip, which was quite interesting and varied.

At the end of the session each group were asked to share their learnings, which again generated some really interesting topics;

  • Nothing beats meeting people face to face
  • Listen to your customer and be open to changing your offer according to what they need
  • By listening to others you always learn something new
  • Cold calling can be quite enjoyable!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the business

My big learning from the session was that you should never under estimate the wisdom that experience brings – in every conversation with someone you nearly always learn something new.

I was chatting to one of the attendees, Sean who was passionate about customer service. The gist of the conversation was that customer service has disimproved generally and that there is huge customer frustration in particular with the call centre culture whereby you rarely get the feeling that someone is really ‘on top‘ of your problem.

You know the drill ..you call, you are often in a queue to be heard, you go through a sequence of pressing numbers, then you give your account details and eventually you get a chance to describe what is wrong. From here you can end up being passed from pillar to post, each time repeating your details and the nature of the problem.

In fact when you have an issue you need to put a good half hour aside as the whole process can end up taking that long.

He used a great expression to demonstrate what a great process would look like. You just want the person you speak to first to say: “Don’t worry, I own your problem now” and leave you with an assurance that they will see it through until it is sorted.

Do you own your customer’s problems?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Do we say something?

March 5, 2015

Hear no evil

This is the tricky part …

You feel something has gone wrong, you have been treated unfairly, you have seen someone else being treated badly and they are losing out..

If you open your mouth and complain then you become the ‘pain in the backside‘, the one who always ends up raising the issue, always being troublesome, the one to be avoided in the future.

In some ways maybe you are better off just saying nothing … Let someone else be the one to complain or raise the issue.

We rationalise that maybe that is actually the best approach, bite the lip, say nothing, stay in line and stay in favour, surely someone else will ask the question?

All of us do this all of the time because it makes sense, we think about the bigger picture and we decide to be strategic. Surely this is the best way to win?

Every time we do this someone gets away with something that maybe they shouldn’t and bad practices become a habit – with power and influence on their side bad practice becomes an even bigger habit and it goes on and on.

Jimmy-Savile

Before we know it we are reading awful stories about sweet deals, favours, corruption, embezzlement, back handers and abuse … we read about Jimmy Savile and wonder how could such terrible, shocking things happen. Who is to blame?

When we make a decision to say nothing it becomes all of our fault.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”

Say something ..

Note: After I wrote this post I read an incredible article in the Irish Independent where an Irish educated surgeon, Gabrielle McMullin advises trainee doctors not to report sexual abuse as it could affect their careers. Is she right?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Tenders that are anything but

February 19, 2015

Tenders

I’ve had enough ..

The call came through directly to us that we were invited to tender for supplying social media training services across the country for this state body (I won’t mention who it was for the  moment).

Alarm bell number one..

Why wasn’t this put out to tender on the normal etender website I wondered?

I get quite suspicious when this happens – isn’t there a normal procedure for this?

Alarm bell number two..

We received the specification for this training and I was really surprised by how specific it was and by some of the language used. The objective was outlined clearly and it was up to the service providers to provide a solution. The thing is the ‘solution‘ was nearly fully mapped out in the specification.

One of the challenges for us was that the prescribed ‘solution’ would not achieve the required objectives.

We were well qualified to deliver a comprehensive solution for this organisation and we have huge relevant experience in the area so we went about writing a plan. This work took me the best part of a day to complete.

Alarm bell number three..

There was a very unusual item in the specification advising that the provider should budget “in a range of between €21,000 and €24,000“.

Why would a state organisation provide anyone tendering with a price guide? This was particularly surprising when the published ‘marking criteria‘ included cost.

Is it not up to each provider to assess the need and then provide a budget to fulfil this need?

Our proposal ..

We completed our proposal and included a more comprehensive training schedule than what was prescribed in their specification, clearly explaining why less training would not achieve their objectives.

I priced this using our normal rates and I was surprised that despite the heavier workload our budget came in a few thousand under the €21,000 – €24,000 price range as indicated.

We submitted our proposal and crossed our fingers – this was a really well thought out substantial and comprehensive evaluation and training plan.

Just like every proposal you work on, you end up investing your time and a little part of yourself in them and you become hopeful – on this proposal we were definitely hopeful.

Alarm bell number four – time to evacuate the building!!

We received our ‘Dear John‘ letter within days of submitting the proposal and we also received our score compared to the winning proposal based on the evaluation criteria.

On ‘methodology and fit for purpose‘ we scored 1,800 out of 3,000.

Surprise,surprise …the winning provider scored a full 3,000!!

Our methodology took their specification and went deeper and more comprehensive – I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.

A score of 1,800 means we barely know what we are doing ..

On ‘quality and balance of resources proposed‘ we scored 2,800 out of 3,500.

Surprise, surprise (once again!!)…the winning provider scored a full 3,500!!

Wow …they must be brilliant. Like those kids in school who get 100% out of 100% for everything.

The rage was starting to brim over … the cat, the dog, the laptop, the office door – nothing was safe (don’t worry I just cursed a lot!)

On ‘cost‘ we scored 3,500 out of 3,500..Jackpot!

Surprise, surprise …we beat the winning provider because our costs were below what was prescribed in the tender document. My accounting training was starting to pay off!

Rules and regulations..

I feel sorry for the government agencies as they are obliged to put things out to tender even when they might have a preferred provider. This ‘technically‘ means there is always 100% transparency, fairness and honesty and equal opportunity for everyone.

90% of the providers I have met have given up on this tender process because they believe it is a farce and a colossal waste of time and anything but fair.

In the commercial world we can work with whoever we want and when we want even if providers are more expensive – this makes business easy as we can just get on with things and not be forced into a painful ‘tender’ process every single time we want to get our business done.

However, these rules are in place and when these agencies are obliged to put things out to tender this commits anyone (fools like us) who is interested in the work to spend a lot of time working on proposals.

If the process is genuine we will play the game and put our best foot forward and let the best crew win.

When it is not and we are being used unfairly just so that the agency can ‘tick the box‘ on their technical obligations it is a much different manner.

What can we do??

This time I have had enough and I am complaining, freedom of information, the whole nine yards and I don’t care about the consequences.

The dilemma we all have is that ‘we don’t want to be seen as the troublemakers‘ and if we complain then we run the risk of not getting some crumbs from the table down the road.

We pay our taxes, which pays for these state agencies and if these rules are in place I won’t put up with anyone wasting our precious time just so they can tick a box and give the business to their favoured supplier.

I’ll let you know how this one goes…

Update !!

A lot of people have contacted me since I published this post.

Many are irate and have given up on the tender system as they feel it is anything but. Some have criticised me and told me that we are naive to expect any of this to be a chance of winning business – ‘play the game‘ and get in there before things go to tender, which is how you win things I am told.

I desperately want to believe that this system can work fairly and that it is a valid way of winning business.

With that rationale I did officially complain and as expected I didn’t get very far..

There were explanations

Performance – the winning company apparently committed to seven times more activity than what was outlined in the brief. I can’t see how this would be necessary and I struggle to see how the teams would be free to attend that much training. We will keep a careful eye on that one.

Budget – they told me that it is their “normal practice” to give a budget guideline to be fair to everyone tendering. I don’t think I have seen this in a tender, at least not the ones we have entered.

The unexplained

It turns out another company who tendered for the work scored exactly the same as we did on the criteria except for the cost element. An incredible coincidence …what do you think?

They contacted me when they saw this post and have decided not to complain as they want to make sure that they do get those ‘crumbs from the table‘ the next time they might be going.

Maybe they are right!

Next steps .. lets see

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Customers aren’t just for Christmas!

December 22, 2014

Marc Jacobs

It was about this time last year when I embraced the “hint” that was given to me by Dee and I found myself in the handbag section of Brown Thomas looking for a leather hand bag, which was stylish but small and tidy.

In the end I settled for a classy navy blue Marc Jacobs bag … that’s a good brand, isn’t it? The price suggested it was a good brand and surely she would be happy with it. Down through the years I’ve bought a few handbags in BT for Dee ..strangely (I know what you are thinking..) I actually like shopping for handbags! I love the leathers and the colours and the different designs and for the most part you can’t go wrong with a bag as a present…I think?

As usual I scored and on Christmas morning Dee was happy with her gift.

Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 he entered Parson’s School of Design. As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year. In 1984 he met Robert Duffy who is still his business partner today. These two have been really successful at building this huge brand, which as all of us knows doesn’t happen by accident

At the end of this summer (just 7 months on) the leather edges of the bag started to turn white – the piping on the seams of the bag were not leather but some type of narrow plastic and the covering was wearing away – this didn’t seem very Marc Jacobs so we returned it to the store assured that there would be no issue with a repair or a replacement.

After two months the bag was returned repaired. Dee was upset as it smelt musty so it must have been sitting in a damp repair shop for quite a while and the inner lining that had to be opened up to complete the repair was still torn.

She put up with this, de-fumigated the bag with perfume but within a few weeks you could see that the repair was not going to work as the seams were once again stripping away – back to Brown Thomas!

Brown Thomas

Our interaction with the manager of the store this week was interesting. She studied the handbag carefully. “Do you have a receipt?” It was clear from the repair paperwork that BT had already handled the previous repair. “The manufacturer has a 6 month repair policy, so we can’t really guarantee anything” hmmm.. “we never know how people will wear their handbags” ..in other words if you are the type of person who mistreats a bag then we can’t be responsible. Taking one look at Dee you would know this is a bag that would be looked after carefully.

We politely reminded her that we trust Brown Thomas and the expensive brands they are selling and that there is no way we should accept this level of wear and tear after just a few months. Surely a brand such as Marc Jacobs care about their quality? The manager elaborated “They don’t care! You can give out all you want, kick up a fuss but it won’t make any difference. They are so big and so popular they just don’t care

That is just incredible – we did suggest that maybe Brown Thomas should stop stocking such a brand if that is what their attitude is towards the quality of their products and the customers who put faith in them. Glancing around the store you could see how much space was dedicated to this very popular brand – The Marc Jacobs brand is big business.

We did leave the handbag with the manager and she assured us that she would do everything in her power to get this brand to behave themselves and deal with the issue. I’m pessimistic and my prediction is that this will end up with Dee being handed back a worn out bag, which will never see the light of day.

When you are that popular and selling that much product is it easy to forget about the customer?

When a brand is so powerful do you do everything you can to stock them in your store even if they don’t really care about customers?

When Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy met 30 years ago and started on their journey I am sure they were passionate about style, quality and their customers? Have they lost control of their brand?

When Hugh Brown and James Thomas started their store in 1848 I am sure the customer come before any of the brands they were stocking?

Maybe something might have changed since then ..

Customer’s aren’t just for Christmas and brands don’t necessarily last forever!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

When harsh criticism can be the best thing ever!

October 27, 2014

Boring conference

I was recently at a large, high profile business conference and unfortunately the first segment of it was dominated and ruined by shockingly poor presentations.

I couldn’t believe how these senior business individuals broke nearly every presentation rule – they used boring powerpoint slides with way too much text laid out in bullet point after bullet point.

What’s worse is they insisted on reading each long sentence, word for word letting these shockingly awful slides hijack the knowledge they undoubtedly possess and in the process making them look very foolish in front of a large audience.

The slides should help guide you not hijack you!

To make matters even worse one of the guys drove on, slide after slide, ignoring the ‘warning‘ bell and selfishly ate into the next presenters time – as a result the whole schedule was forced back, which meant many people had to leave that day before everyone had finished.

Despite this when they finished their presentations they each received a polite round of applause leaving them quite oblivious to the fact that they were truly awful.

At the coffee break the predictable chit chat started ..”weren’t those presentations shocking?” ..”the worst I have seen” …”that’s a real pity because he’s a good guy and his presentation let him down” …”surely someone will say something to him

Just as we were chatting one of the ‘car crash‘ presenters passed by and one of our guys who knew him said “well done” ..”oh ..thanks a lot

Why do we do that?

I have no doubt that these guys would have left the conference feeling satisfied that they had stood up, done their presentations and based on the feedback they did quite well. Next time they are asked to present they will probably do exactly the same again ..it worked last time, didn’t it?

Thankfully the day improved and there were some really superb presentations later, which did a huge job for the profile and the credibility of these speakers – they grabbed the opportunity to shine!

killarney lakes

In 2000 Bridgestone Guide author John McKenna, caused a storm of controversy when he slated the fantastic and nationally treasured tourism gem Killarney. In a review this travel writer and food critic stated that “the best way to see Killarney in County Kerry is through the rearview mirror of a car. He added that discerning tourists will avoid the town as it was an Irish travesty surrounded by beautiful lakeland“.

This review sparked an outrage, which made Mr McKenna a hated figure in the town – how could he say such a thing about our beautiful and perfect place?

Despite despising those words and the cruel messenger the savvy locals started to process this truth – maybe our product has deteriorated, maybe our food offering is poor, maybe the town is dirty and shabby, maybe our service levels aren’t quite what they should be and maybe, just maybe this critic might be telling the truth.

Killarney dug in and got to work on their offering and 11 years later they proudly invited back the much maligned John McKenna as a guest speaker to ‘eat his words’ following the town winning the Irish Tidy Town award. He conceded that “the Kerry holiday hotspot has improved enormously and is the undisputed capital of Irish tourism“.

While hearing the truth might hurt deeply (lets face it we all hate being criticised) it could turn out to be the very best thing for you.

Whatever we do we should always look for the person who will tell us the truth instead of applauding and saying “well done”

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

At Fuzion we help our clients with their Presentation Skills and Speech Delivery from our offices in Dublin and Cork