Posts Tagged ‘Customer Care’

Be nice to the elderly woman!

November 14, 2011
Pay it Forward

It pays to be nice!

This week I heard a really simple story by a guy who was participating in one of our training courses. He supplied corporate and domestic cleaning services and at the early stages of  building his business he was desperately trying to get some custom from the biggest hotel in his town. Despite all attempts he realised that he could not shift the incumbent supplier who the hotel were extremely loyal to so he eventually stopped trying.

Some time later he was asked to clean the carpets in this elderly woman’s house, which he did and at the end of a very long and tiring day he finished the job and packed away all of his cleaning gear. The old woman realised that there was another room upstairs that she had forgotten about and she asked him would he look after it.

Even though it was late and it would take an age to unpack and set up all of his cleaning gear again he decided he would go ahead, unload and clean the extra room. The woman thanked him and did acknowledge the extra work and inconvenience that was involved in cleaning the extra room.

Two weeks later he received a call from the hotel to come and clean some of their carpets.

Guess who was related to the elderly woman?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

Is it all about price?

October 9, 2011
Greg Canty Fuzion

Win Win or crush the seller?

I remember when I started my first accountancy industry job in Deasy & Co. one of the early tasks I had was the job of selecting a supplier for all of our stationery requirements.

In those days we went through huge amounts of paper and our bill would have been quite large.

I approached the task diligently as the good accountant that I was – meeting each of the prospective suppliers and impassionately processing their quotes. The best quote won and next time round I did exactly the same thing all over again and put our business out for tender. It didn’t really matter who the supplier was – as long as I achieved the best price and the maximum savings for the company – wasn’t I brilliant?

24 years later and I find ourselves putting quotes together the whole time to hopefully win business and on the other side of the coin we deal with many suppliers.

A few things have I have learnt about pricing since those early days:

  • The clients who hammer us on price because that’s just what they do, I have very little interest in doing business with them again
  • If every piece of work a prospective client has is put out to auction I find myself caring less about this business (unless it is a tender situation where this is what you have to do)
  • I deal with suppliers that I like dealing with as long as their prices are fair – I won’t break them up every time
  • Trust and respect and a genuine interest in each others business is really important
  • The word Loyalty is really important -not blind loyalty
  • You have to leave a Win Win in every single deal that you do (James Caan the successful businessman from Dragons Den talks about learning this valuable lesson from his Dad at an early stage in his career in his excellent book)

For us building a successful business is all about providing excellent services (we don’t always get it right but we will try our best) to our clients in a partnership capacity – they outline their objectives and we do our best to achieve these together.

In the course of our business we use service and product providers that we trust and like doing business with, that ultimately will help us do our job. There is one exception where one of our suppliers just doesn’t care about our business and we are busy looking for a better solution.

The price should be fair and leave a Win Win for everyone.

Do you pay a heavy price when it’s all about price?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

p.s. apologies to those suppliers years ago – I guess we were probably the loser ?

Knowing you are the best & saying it

September 25, 2011
Hayfield Manor Hotel

Hayfield Manor Hotel

I was at a recent Chamber event in Cork and they had their usual “soap box” slot whereby a few members are given the opportunity to speak in front of the attendees and briefly tell everyone about their business.

This is quite an awkward moment for those invited to talk – they have about two minutes to inform and impress the listeners and generally try to make an impact with a combination of information, some humour and maybe a “catchy” phrase to finish their mini speech.

At the recent event Ettienne van Verde, General Manager of Hayfield Manor confidently took to the podium and started his speech by informing all of the attendees that they were the best hotel in the area.  At first there were a few quiet sniggers, some glances around the room because “saying you are the best” is generally not something that we say. It might be considered to be a little bit arrogant ..even if you believe it do you say it publically?

Not only did Ettienne state that they were the best hotel but he went on to explain why they were the best. He mentioned the friendly welcome, the free parking, the convenient location, the free wifi, the state of the art function room, the individually designed bedrooms and also the two award winning restaurants.

At the end of his confident two minute talk he was met with a big round of warm applause.For those who have experienced the hotel they would have to agree that Hayfield Manor is pretty good but I suspect the warm round of applause was for someone who proudly and confidently represented their business and wasn’t afraid to say “we are the best”.

If you believe you are best maybe you should start saying it

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Waiting for the Penny to drop

August 26, 2011
Changing trends?

Changing trends?

I was reading the text of an interview with a prominent retailer in Ireland (in business for over 40 years) who has a number of outlets – he was talking about the current state of his business and his outlook for the future.

Some of this is as you would expect:

Footfall, passing trade, impulse buying and general sales have decreased.. Last year was bad and this year is the worst ever … there is a need to work harder and continue to offer great quality, reasonable prices and a top class service to customers … we have to offer continuous promotions to keep the business ticking over …

we have to offer discounts to get customers to part with their money … whether we are in sale or not customers will often barter for a lower price and we are prepared to negotiate … the nature of our business is very personalised and we promote it with quality merchandise and great quality…

we’ve reduced prices by between 20 and 50 per cent, which customers have reacted well to… circumstances are changing on an almost daily basis as there seems to be a constant crisis with the Irish economy… we never got complacent even in the good times … the government isn’t doing enough to ensure healthy business and sales growth in Ireland…

Vat and rates are beyond our control and are the main reason why so many businesses are closing for good… we advertise on local radio and in the local press…. we do what we can to keep the doors open… hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel

Now this is a guy and a business who has been in a permanent scrap for the last few years, no doubt fighting with landlords over rent, cutting back on staff levels, reducing staff wages, negotiating with suppliers over margins, fighting on a daily basis to get more efficiencies in the business and doing everything I am sure to stay in the game.

With admiration I am saying to myself “well done you are one of the great survivors – it sounds like you have been doing everything to survive” – then I read one final piece in the interview..

I acknowledge the growing importance of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for making immediate contact with my customers … we’re in the process of setting up a Facebook profile aimed at younger customers as I recognise the importance of social media as a form of free and immediate advertising

In the process of setting up a Facebook profile! – I find myself screaming to myself ..”What are you waiting for?”

Unfortunately this hard working business is fighting a battle on many fronts but it is stuck in the slow lane with smart competitors putting on the indicator and whizzing quickly by – he probably doesn’t even notice them.

Despite the extreme economic climate and the huge shift in how we consume media for many people the huge Social Media Penny has still not dropped … one of these days!

Why do we find it so hard to adapt?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

At Fuzion we offer social media consultancy to clients even those where the penny takes a while to drop!

Bad haircut ..

August 12, 2011
Greg Canty Fuzion

Haircut? – I’ve just had one !

For years and years I went to the same hairdresser to get my curly mop chopped. For anyone that has witnessed my curls they will know that it is not a regular head of hair – at least that is what I have convinced myself!

Yes, I am particular and once I find someone who I trust to look after my hair I will continue to go there every time, asking for the same person – you end up feeling comfortable with the surroundings and the staff there, which in particular for a guy is a big deal … A hair salon can be a daunting place for a male, surrounded by women nattering, getting blow drys and with their hair in all sorts of weird tin foil! (surely there must be a better method?)

The guys reading this will be wondering why I don’t just go to a barbers – trust me, anytime I have done this it has been a total disaster … even when I was a kid the regular barber just couldn’t handle my hair. So, unfortunately I am destined for a life of embarrassing moments at hair salons ..

My hair trips have been interesting down though the years – ending up in the window under red lamps in Peter Marks at Wilton Shopping Centre when you are 15 on a Wednesday afternoon half day from school is not funny when your buddies are in convulsions looking in – last time I agreed for my hair to be dried naturally!

Or wondering that no matter what instructions I gave the salon I always ended up being scalped – years later I learnt that when I left the house my mother would ring the salon and warn them that she was coming for a refund if they did not give me a decent hair cut – for years I went around thinking hairdressers were deaf!!

The worst was being handed a brush to clean down my clothes and instead I start brushing my hair with it – mortified and red faced I left the salon with the staff thoroughly enjoying the hilarious experience ..

Now, do you understand why I am sensitive about the hairdressers and how important it is that I am comfortable there? – you can also understand that it would take me an awful lot to change from my regular salon.

Sure enough it happened – a few times I rang and they were always too busy and couldn’t squeeze me in, would the following Wednesday week at 4:30 suit? Not really ..

This happened a number of times and eventually I took a huge leap of faith and changed salons and 5 years later I am still going to the one that I switched to – I now know the staff quite well and am comfortable going there.

Truth is most of us are very slow to change our habits unless something has gone wrong, until the day you get a bad haircut – I guess there is more than one hairdresser in the land that can cut my strange mop of hair after all ..

As comfortable as your customer is with you and your team watch out for bad haircuts..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

PR is all about managing your reputation – while at Fuzion we can enhance your reputation through the media the most important aspects come directly from you.

Making the Sale or Changing the Customers routine?

July 31, 2011
Cafe Chico

What would make you change your routine?

I admit it … I’m boring!

Every Sunday morning myself and Dee go for a walk with our four legged creature, Bing to the local park with our good friends Tommy and Joan and their four legged creature, Tammy.

This routine was so predictable – walk to Ballincollig Park, lap of the first field, walk alongside the river to the lower fields, cut up through the Gunpowder mills and the GAA fields, into the village, stop for coffee and scones at Nosh and Coffee, chat, walk through the village and home. This as I mentioned is what we do pretty much every Sunday.

A few months ago a very cute little mobile coffee kiosk moved into the car park at the start of the park serving coffee and buns and they even have a few very neat tables and chairs outside their unit complete with flowers in vases. Now, this didn’t really suit our break “routine” as the location of the kiosk was at the start of our walk and not in the middle so even though it was a really nice set up it wasn’t quite right for us (its a big deal changing people’s habits!).

Recently we did our usual walk but some of the “crew members” were a little hungover so having completed stage one of our walk we double backed, cut the walk short and went back to the little kiosk, “Cafe Chico” (the owner called the kiosk after her dog, who she brings with her for company each day) for some very welcome refreshments.

The woman working in the kiosk was really friendly, the coffee and home made scones were perfect and to top it all she offered us biscuits from a tin especially for the four legged creatures – Wow! this woman knew and understood her customers really well.

Officially we have changed our routine! Now the first leg of our walk is the same as it was before but now we do a few laps of the lower fields, double back along the river to lap the first field again and then return to the beginning to enjoy our coffee, scones and chat at Cafe Chico!

I know.. exciting stuff!

Why? She runs a great little friendly business, she understands her customer and she goes a little further than you would expect but fully appreciate.

Are you making a sale or are you changing a customers routine – which is worth more?

While we can look after your PR needs, your reputation starts with what you do yourself.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you doing Bad Business?

July 27, 2011
Judge Judy

Are you doing Bad Business?

I sat in the corridors of the Cork District Court for about 6 hours last week waiting for a really stupid case to be heard between us and our previous landlord.

Apparently Monday is HSE day at the District Court and these cases can drag on a little if they are not settled – the whole scenario is very strange with all sorts wandering around, many bored and others huddled in corners negotiating and planning. The odd person walks by with tears in their eyes – didn’t quite work out the way they wanted!

I wasted a full day at the court, my solicitor wasted a full day and the people on the other side wasted a full day, the judge wasted his time for something that should never have gone as far as the court.

Who won? – truthfully.. no one  – I felt like I was in an episode of Judge Judy and the the outcome was fine from my point of view with  Judge O’Leary (I was not expecting his approach to the case) slapping the landlord across the knuckles for not being better at minding his building and his “customers”. To be fair to the Judge it was late in the day and he must have been tired and not in the mood to listen to this “nothing” case – there must be a better way of ensuring that court time does not get taken up with rubbish? He did however give the case his full attention.

It was quite funny as I presented pictures of the front of the old building to the judge – the old saying, a picture paints a  1,000 words applied as the Judge reviewed the cobwebs on top of cobwebs pictures and then listened to how the landlord visits the building up to two times a week and checks everything. The other side argued that the pictures were irrelevant as they were just taken!

My day was  worth a lot more than the outcome and the pointless hassle that went on. A little bit of reasonableness and this could have been long sorted – the eventual result? – a compromise offer I made to sort it out 6 months beforehand is exactly where the whole thing eventually turned out! Having said all that I am sure that the little experience of sitting in the box, preparing an argument will stand to me later down the line for more stupidity at some point.

This was all about Bad Business ..

Day one we had hassle with this guy even before the lease was signed – ultimatums etc – Trust your gut and walk away when you get any hint of this – we didn’t – Bad Business

We have secured a judgement against a business in Dublin that we were dealing with and who owed us a lot of money – they still haven’t paid after a lot of hassle. They were terrible from the very first moment – not turning up for meetings and then leaving us wait forever at other times. They were inefficient, sloppy, constantly changing staff and changing their minds. We should have trusted our gut and walked away, we didn’t – Bad Business

I’m sure most of you have heard about Famous and the Credit Control Warrior at this stage – just read my blog about this saga. This is another one that will do the rounds with solicitors. We wasted more time working on the account and more again chasing what is due to us. I should probably leave it off at this stage but I don’t want him to get 1% satisfaction of walking away from anything after the way we were laughed at when we looked for our payment (I’m getting angry again just thinking about it). We should have trusted our gut in the first place and never agreed to take on this work, we didn’t  – Bad Business

We deal with a printer who are really awful to deal with. They are some of the most unpleasant people that we have to deal with. We still buy from them as their prices and quality are good – as soon as another viable option  comes along we are using someone else. I resent placing orders with them and hate ever having to lift the phone to deal with them  – Bad Business

Often the Bad Business is our own fault as we should know better and trust our instincts from the beginning. I guess at times in the depths of recession you will take on business if things are quiet but this doesn’t change the eventual outcome.

Are you doing Bad Business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Glamourous Toll Booth Woman!

June 19, 2011
Toll Booth Blonde!

Glamourous Toll Booth!

Pulling into the Portlaoise toll booth and I know I am making good time for the meeting in the centre of Dublin, as long as traffic into the city is OK. That can be a lottery at times ..

As usual you scramble for change as you pull into the quietest toll booth.

How are you today?

I wasn’t expecting that.. as I look up I discover the voice behind the friendly greeting was a smiling and very glamorous woman, well groomed, perfect make-up, blonde hair and wearing a very neat blouse and accessorised with necklace and earrings. My guess is that she could be in her early fifties.

She quickly hands me my 20 cent change and I am moving again.

I certainly wasn’t expecting that friendly greeting, but why not?  I guess we can quickly get too used to the, no rapport, nothing interaction type of interpersonal transaction that can happen so often on the phone, in the shop, at the coffee shop, at the train station or anywhere that we quickly interact with people.

Somehow the toll booth was not a place where I was expecting a friendly interaction like that.

I am guessing that working at the Portlaoise toll booth was not my glamourous woman’s dream job but she has clearly decided that she is going to do it in the best possible way, with pride, efficiency and personality.

All the thousands of drivers on their monotonous journeys who she deals with everyday benefit from her decision to do her job in this way.

Glamourous blonde toll booth woman, thank you … and thank you to anyone who is not exactly doing their dream job but makes a decision to do it the best possible way, with pride and with a friendly smile.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Ultimate in Brand Loyalty, Bobby Stokes and a Pencil case?

May 29, 2011
LIverpool Pencil Case

Loyal for life!

Chatting to a friend of mine last week the conversation came around to football, the Champions League Final and the ultimate in brand loyalty – the undying support for “your” football team.

Supporting your football team through thick and thin must be the ultimate in brand loyalty and is one of life’s greatest mysteries – how does this happen, when does it start and why do supporters never waver from their team despite success and otherwise?

How do we end up with this incredible bond with a football team from another country? – it really makes little sense but it exists and it runs so deep that it affects us, our moods, our friends and even those who we may not like!!

As a die hard Liverpool fan I can honestly tell you my form is great when they win, lousy when they lose, I get anxious about new signings and I get suspicious of people who support their arch rivals!!

I’m not from Liverpool (but I do like going there – the people are great fun!), my parents aren’t from there, I will do my utmost to watch every match (on TV or computer), I feel betrayed by Mr Torres, I did meet the legendary old club chairman Peter Robinson once and I think You’ll Never Walk Alone is the greatest football song ever!

How is it that in a lifetime we might have many personal relationships but we never change football teams? – what is that about and where and how does it actually start?

My friend is an Everton fan – how did this start? Well, his mother who he admits knows nothing about football bought him an Everton pencil case – he tells me the following year she bought him his first ever football shirt, a Liverpool shirt (she does have taste, that woman..), which he refused to wear. The ultimate brand loyalty had set in, he was a die hard Everton fan.

Bobby Stokes celebrates FA Cup winning goal versus Manchester United

Well done Bobby Stokes !

My cousin who I hadn’t seen in a very long time proclaimed he was a Southampton fan – curious I asked him how this happened? He nearly killed me that I did not know – he reminded me that when we were kids (1976 to be precise) he was visiting our house on FA Cup Final day when Southampton (in the old 2nd division) were up against the mighty Manchester United.

I warned him not to support Man Utd if he knew what was good for him – Bobby Stokes scored a winner (do click the Bobby Stokes link – the goal is worth watching!) for the Saints in the 83rd minute to  seal an unexpected win and a new “brand loyal” fan was won for life! To this day despite few opportunities to celebrate memorable wins he has remained loyal to his team.

Getting deep about this topic with my Everton buddy we actually agreed that you could even use the word “love” to describe that bond with your team – whoah, that’s heavy?

How can your brand or business instil even a fraction of that kind of loyalty with your customers?

– buy them a pencil case?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!

May 23, 2011
Aer Lingus Air Hostess

Peanuts anyone ?

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!”

Can you imagine a headline like this?

While it would seem like a terrible way to celebrate 75 years (On May 27th 1936 Aer Lingus launched its first ever flight between Baldonnel and Bristol, with just five passengers) for me it would be the best possible news to come from our famous airline.

Do you remember the days when flying was a treat and when the smiling hostess would genuinely look after each of the customers with water, orange juice and peanuts?

In so many businesses the level of service has increased but in the airline business the exact opposite has happened with a horrible race to the bottom. The level of service has reduced to such an extent that air travel is now a right pain in the backside.

Aer Lingus seem to be caught in no man’s land trying to compete with the “Low Care” airline Ryanair – I honestly get really cross when I hear people waxing lyrical about the great businessman, Michael O’Leary who proudly boasts about his brand of lousy customer service. While they might make record profits (€401M in the last 12 months), Michael will use every situation and every trick to squeeze a bob out of you – listening to jingles on board selling tickets is not my idea of a good time!

When we plan holidays it will never be to a route serviced by a Ryanair flight – plenty don’t mind so who am I to argue? I don’t want to travel with anyone who values customers in such a way.

Ryanair

Tickets for Ryanair charity anyone?

So, Aer Lingus – go for it … bring back the peanuts, that extra little bit of customer service, take a premium on the price and stop chasing Ryanair to the bottom.

What have you got to lose?

Happy 75!!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion