Thursday, December 31, 2015

50 years of me

It's my birthday today. My 50th. I know lots of people do their review of the year or predictions on December 31. I'm going to have more of a wander down memory lane. 50 years makes you pause and reflect. Those of a certain age may enjoy the reminiscences...

Change is the constant of the last 50 years of course. Isn't it? I wonder if in fact it may have been a story of massive technological change in the very earliest years of my life followed by a frenzeid four decades of commercialisation of that technology.

In the first five years of my life we put a man on the moon, the first supersonic commercial jet liner took off for the first time (a feat NASA scientists regarded as a greater technical achievement) and the first two nodes of the internet were connected.

Actually all of these things happened  in 1969.

Compare this with the life of ordinary folk. I went to school, aged 4 and a bit, probably in 1970. Occasionally we would all be called outside to watch as Concorde flew on test from the relatively nearby RAE Thurleigh (I grew up in Bedfordshire, UK). Hi-tech huh? Inside we had blackboards and chalk. Even in my junior school the desks retained the holes where inkwells used to be held.

While I studied for an O-level in Computer Studies (writing code, in BASIC) the only time I saw a computer at school was in those o-level lessons (around 1980-82). We had the first rubber keyboard Spectrums.

At university I typed not on a word processor, but on a manual typewriter. It wasn't even electric.Research meant the library.

I owned a home pc before I got exposed to one at work. Mine was a Spectrum. ZX-82 (please correct me) I think - proper keyboard, playing games loaded by cassette player. Copying was easy.

I worked in media and over the course of a decade we moved from typing on three layers of paper separated by carbon paper (to create copies) to Macs with the power of 'super computers'. Lots of folks lost their jobs.

By then (early 90s) the internet was becoming a thing. I got internet access at home before I did at work. But boy was it slow. Even so, internet banking seemed infinitely preferable to the High Street alternative. In the next month or so I'll be taking delivery of a new broadband offering up to 500mb. Back then I had 512kb.

This past Christmas my guestimate is that 90% of my spend was online.

When I was born, the second world war was just 20 years behind us. We were reaping the technological peace dividend.

But since 1969 what giant leaps for mankind have we made?

Put it like that and smartphones and tablets can be easily dismissed as ways of commercialising the internet.

Medical advances have been spectacular - but we are only generally exposed to these when they become a matter of life and death to our nearest and dearest. We don't have a cure for cancer, nor for many other diseases.

And most painfully of all, despite the massive resources we have accumulated, the brilliant minds we are capable of connecting, we have not solved the problem of poverty. All the data suggests that, even in developed countries, the gap between rich and poor is growing.

  • The gap between the rich and poor can be illustrated by the fact that the three wealthiest individuals in the world have assets that exceed those of the poorest 10 percent of the world's population.
  • The fact that inequality exists between nations is seen in the statistic that the world's wealthiest countries have just 13% of the world's population but 45% of its purchasing power; the poorest nations have 42% of the world's population and 9% of its purchasing power.
  • Source: Boundless. “Growing Gap Between Rich and Poor.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 31 Dec. 2015 from
    Our great technological leaps have given many of us significantly better, more connected, healthier, wealthier lives. That has been the great achievement of the last 50 years.

    1969 showed us the way: Neil Armstrong's pictures of the Earth showed us we share a world. The internet allowed us to make that connection real. 1969 gave us the tools. Perhaps 2016 could be a new dawn of intention?

    So my birthday wish is that the next 50 years are focused on making significantly better, more connected, healthier, wealthier (and happier) lives for ALL of us.

    Have a great New Year.

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Three lessons online can learn from offline customer experience

    An article on HBR today makes a lot of sense on consistency of customer experience online and off.

    And it notes we have different expectations online versus off.

    But the question is should we? When we talk about improving customer experience its often, where a business already cares about customer experience, a question of giving it the same emotional feel online as off.

    This is difficult stuff. And it needs examples to help us shape a response.

    Many years back I recall Doc Searls talking about his wife's annoyance with sign-ins and registrations online - the sort of barriers people seeking to transact in the real world rarely come across. And when we do... "Can I take your postcode please... and the number of the house?..." we feel something unnatural and data capturey is taking place, something we'd rather not soil ourselves with...

    Lesson - The best experience requires no sign in and no registration.

    And as I noted recently - online we may be cutting organisations more slack than we would in the real world... because no one sees us fail when we try to 'get in' to your online presence. The very human emotion of embarrassment is removed.

    Lesson - Dance like no one is watching, by all means, but Test your online customer journeys like someone is watching.

    Imagine you are a retailer who has built a reputation on no quibble returns - money back immediately? How can you replicate online the satisfaction provided by handing over the faulty item in person in the store and getting credited back immediately on the card you paid with (usually prompting an instant repurchase from stock).  If my transaction is recorded and available in all channels then this can be used to verify I do possess the product in question. In selecting to send it back, generating a postage paid printout address, or even a label to attach to it for pick up from home, I should be granted an instant refund - before the item is even boxed up to be sent back.

    Why - because this shows me the retailer trusts me (and trust is reciprocal) and I am much more likely to repurchase from the same retailer, right now, to replace my faulty item - a loyal customer ready to tell friends all about my great experience.

    If I fail to send the faulty item back what's the worst that happens? The retailer loses the full value of the item and the consumer gets blacklisted (but only after a period of reminder communications, of course).

    Fearful retailers could trial limiting the value available to do this online, and/or providing vouchers which can only be spent with the same store. But I suspect the more trust you offer, the more you get back.

    Lesson: Don't forget the core emotions you are trying to generate online. If you've built your reputation on no quibble in the real world, how do you remove all the quibble when online?

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Manipulated virtual reality - the terrifying future of advertising

    Image via
    The Minority Report nightmare, of personally-targeted ads no matter where you turn, has already been superseded. It's become product placement on digital TV.
    Those products can be digitally airbrushed in to respond to who is watching, where and when. And with so much of TV consumed via digital means today, that's easy to know down to the individual.

    God help us as we take our first wobbling steps into an always-on world of virtual reality through such devices as google glasses.

    When the virtual layer is applied in response to who we are, where we are (whether in your head or via 3D narrowcast to instances where-ever we turn) we won't know whether the product we are looking at, picking up, drinking from, is what we thought it was, or a product 'placed' by a rival. Think you've picked up a Coke can and opened it? It's actually a Pepsi you are drinking. Ha! Made you take the challenge. Aaaargh!

    The reason this is so scary is because it is both so do-able and so predictable given how the marketing industry has remained so wedded to old models of interruptive advertising.

    The radical digitisation of product placement as seen in the BBC example linked to here is a response to the fact that they've noticed we don't like to be interrupted by ads. Digital TV allows us to effectively adblock - by zipping past each ad break because we aren't watching live.

    Instead of learning the lesson that we don't want interruptive ads, they move the ads into the bit we want to watch uninterrupted (the shows) in the form of placements.

    I'm wondering what it will take for some of these guys to let go and refocus their smarts and their tech on a model that both their clients AND their clients' customers, would actually welcome.

    I fear some will be painting the sky while we stare pointedly at each other before they get the point.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2015

    A stitch in time...

    A stitch in time, if you aren't familiar with the phrase, is not the most recent Dr Who episode. It is an ancient phrase which carries with it some ancient wisdom.
    It means deal with the small problem now before it becomes a larger one: a small hole may require one stitch. Leave it and, as the idiom continues, you 'll end up with a hole requiring nine stitches (A Stitch In Time Saves Nine).

    There is a lesson in this for those engaged in customer experience. If you can identify where customer's emotions are at their most intense in their journey and apply your efforts in real time at that point, you'll make the biggest difference. The effort required may be quite small - provided it is 'in time'.

    This was evidenced to me last week in an experience with a leading online travel booking service. I'm not going to name them because even though I remained unsatisfied by the outcome I was impressed by the personal efforts of the CEO & President and hope he'll be taking on board the advice I am sharing now.

    In May my wife booked our family a half-term break in Morocco. With less than 24 hours before our flight last week, the hotel sent us a confusing email which we took to mean they were shut and couldn't accommodate us. I informed the online booking service who we had used, who went off to find an alternative. But it didn't suit us. The long and short of it was I spent all day trying to find and book an alternative and sort transfers - all of which was last minute stress and actions no one wants and indeed most people expect all that stuff to be sorted by their agents with significant upgrading involved.

    With an hour of the business day remaining I finally got booked and it took a series of emails into the evening (we were getting up at 1:30am) to confirm a transfer would be waiting for us when we landed the next morning.

    I had asked The booking service to book and pay for the transfer. They told me they could not but if I kept a receipt they would meet the cost.

    And so they are doing. But my level of stress when trying to get the transfers booked means that this 45 Euro 'apology' feels little more than a sop. Had they had the ability to book and pay for the transfer and simply tell me it was all sorted at the time I was in emotional flux, the impact could have been much more significant. That is, if they had done what I could do, what any human could do, but apparently not what this company's policies allowed, I think I would have felt much better.

    In the cold light of day, after the emotional challenges, after the holiday, 45 euros just looks like money. It could have been a problem solved. It could have been the stitch that saved nine...

    Being able to take real and meaningful action at the point of emotion is a critical part of the customer experience journey today. Too few businesses have enabled or trusted their Customer Service teams to think fast - to act like their CEO, to apply a stitch in time (one example is in my book The 10 Principles of Open Business)

    The resulting costs in terms of additional customer support time, lost goodwill, damage to brand reputation and lost customers is worth considering by anyone at the helm.

    Thursday, October 22, 2015

    UX starts at the front door

    What's the message you've designed?
    No matter how good the customer experience is within your doors, if your customer can't actually get through those doors, everything else is wasted.
    I had lunch in a steak house in Milton Keynes yesterday as I prepared for a meeting with a colleague.
    I was seated near the window and close enough to observe as potential diners approached the entrance.
    I think I could make one, simple, physical change to that entrance and at least double conversion.
    In the short time I was there (a little less than an hour) I saw at least 15 people walk up to the front door, try to open it, fail, and walk away.
    People rarely see your embarrassment at failing a simple test like opening a door on the internet (so perhaps they try again and again, allowing us to get away with poor online design?). But in the real world, in front of your friends and passing pedestrians on a Milton Keynes pavement, that embarrassment is real and all that you need to prompt you to keep on walking to the next restaurant.
    By the time I came to settle the bill there had been so many failed attempts to get in that I felt it fair to point out the issue to the fella taking my credit card details. To confirm my point, it happened to another would-be customer as we discussed the problem. The member of staff dashed off after that one, but they'd already gone.
    To put this in context, there were less people inside dining than had failed to get it. Half the revenue was failing to get past the front door.
    What, I wondered, makes this door so great a challenge?
    The door very clearly states 'pull'. And the instruction is correct. And to be fair, I had managed to get in, hadn't I?
    The problem, I think, is that we typically expect an entrance to open inwards. My front door at home does this and, I'm pretty sure from the pov of entering the room, so do the rest of the doors in our home.
    My guess is we come to expect doors to open inwards when they are entrances - no matter whether they are covered with explanations to the contrary (signs don't work, by the way).
    The episode highlights how important it is to really push out the ends of end-to-end when we map customer journeys. Sometimes you must, literally, put yourself in your customers' shoes and walk it.
    So Middletons, my free piece of advice to you today is, change your entrance door to one which opens inwards. You could double your revenue overnight.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    Could VW fines lead to a dirtier planet?

    I note that VW is cutting $1bn a year from its investment budget as it strives to balance its reputation-and-fine ravaged books.
    Let's imagine that the rest of the car industry takes this as an opportunity not to get ahead, but to take its collective foot off the gas too on investments. After all, they face many margin pressures of their own.
    So perhaps the consequence of VW cutting back is that the whole industry will cut back - perhaps $10bn of investment gone per year for the next three years.
    What was that $30bn being invested in? New more efficient, less polluting, more recyclable carrs - and the plant to make them.
    The consequence of VW being fined for cheating on emissions may well be a less clean planet than might of been had nothing been done.
    Surely the aim is a greener planet?
    To that end the concept of punitive fines - and the attendant public furore around them - is not doing its job.
    Perhaps instead VW should be directed to ring-fence greater amounts of investment for innovation in green technologies, that may actually have the consequences intended.

    Friday, October 09, 2015

    Listen Again: Antifragility and Digital Transformation

    I had the pleasure and privilege of being invited to join an international panel to discuss antifragility and digital transformation on Wednesday October 7, 2015.
    The panel was broadcast live at 5pm-6pm UK time but is already available to listen to at your leisure on the following link:

    If you are hoping for a detailed discussion on the digital architecture required to make your business antifragile, this probably isn’t the discussion for you. But if you are interested in the human elements, the value of connectedness, openness, and the development of the truly networked, purpose-led organisation and the role these play in the sustainability of business, you’ll find plentiful riches.
    Naturally, I brought my take from The 10 Principles of Open Business (which I note is suddenly scaling Amazon’s ‘Strategy’ book sales charts – perhaps no coincidence) and Anne McCrossan – founder of Visceral Business (link) spoke with passion for the humanising of the org and Todd Nilson who is director of consulting at Feverbee, the online community builders.

    My sincere thanks must go to Sinan Si Alhir (Si), for his relentless sharing, connecting, openness and humanity. He brought us together and hosted the panel and never rests in his efforts to build a better future.

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    VW will bounce back stronger for learning the lesson of Open Business

    It's all too easy to join in with the doom and gloom brigade about VW. They have done very naughty things. And they have been caught doing them.
    But let's have a little context here. The auto industry has long been accused of tweaking its test performance figures in its favour.
    It is not unheard of for motorcycles to be tested with their wing mirrors off and tyres pumped up to super-high pressures to reduce drag, for example.
    The car industry is no different with much hemming and hawing from both public and press over their claimed mpg figures for decades. We haven't trusted those figures for a long time. VW's re-calibrated version of the emissions truth is arguably just further along the same continuum.
    Even so, all of a sudden VW, and much of the rest of the car industry (don't forget GM and Toyota are both currently paying hefty fines for misleading the public, according to Automotive News Europe and BMW's share price is plummeting on concerns about their emissions) have a mountain to climb to rebuild trust.


    Lack of trust is a drag on performance of the intangibles of a business: So your trust in the VW brand will have reduced. That will have some impact on your car choices. But so will how much you desire their designs, mechanical reliability and performance, build quality, drive quality, comfort, style, the sound the doors make, the cache of the badge etc etc. In other words whether or not you trust the absolute veracity of their performance figures is just one parameter and, when the dust settles, perhaps a far less important one than the feeling you get from driving it. Or simply how much you want that car.
    So my guess is VW, et al, will bounce back. Nose bloodied, bowed and ready to be better, more open businesses for their experience.
    They will be reborn as organisations for whom trust IS more important in future and in which the governance is aligned with building trust.


    For example, if they had performed their testing out in the open in the first place they would not be in the trouble they are today.
    In the connected car future they will be able to aggregate real-world results from real world users results, in real time, and share those results with all drivers and to anyone else who requires them via open data.
    All of this is very do-able with the technologies of the connected car.
    Combine this with a new regime of open governance ensuring accurate measurement, and VW has the opportunity to respond and leap ahead of their rivals for trust.

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Going Postal

    I tried to track a recorded delivery on the Post Office website today.
    When you Google 'Post Office' Track & Trace comes back as one of the four most important returns, as selected by Google, relating to the term Post Office.
    On the Post Office site it is one of five (and listed at No4) of the Post Office Essentials.
    Bear with me...
    These to me are indicators of how important both the Post Office and its online customers view the Track & Trace function of the site.
    So if you were looking after the Post Office twitter account you may think it worthwhile to stay abreast of its state of functionality - or at least have routes to hand to find out what the issues may be and the fix times estimated?
    Or then again... you could regard it as someone else's problem.

    This afternoon I tried to track a parcel and got the message that the system was down.
    It gave no clue as to when it may return.
    So I tweeted the Post Office.

    This is how it played out:

    1. how long is your Track & Trace site going to be down for?

    Track and Trace is powered by you may wish to tweet them about this. ~ Luke
    It's on the PO site - one of the main links offered when 'post office' is googled. Perhaps in your interest to know?

    That part is powered by Royal Mail, it would need to be investigated by them as it's their service.
    Ah thanks. Does that get ticked as a customer issue resolved then?

    In the mean time, I'd tested it for myself - and it was back online. I do wonder why 'Luke' hadn't found the time - I guess he was busy gathering evidence that my problem was nothing to do with him.
    I was after a relatively simple answer to a relatively simple question. In return I was getting a lesson in organisational structure.
    I'm sorry, but I do find this buck passing at the front line frustrating.
    The Post Office and those representing it really can't take so little responsibility for what is clearly an important piece of real estate on their website - and a significant driver of traffic. Who cares who it's powered by - certainly not Post Office or Royal Mail customers.
    Here's my advice for a quick fix: 1. Move the Powered By graphic above the fold (old newspaper folk will know what that means, it means in this case you shouldn't have to scroll down the page to discover the Powered By secret... 2. Add a link to Royal Mail customer service, if that's where you would like to point the traffic (aka blame).
    Here's my advice for the right fix: Reorganise the business around putting your customer first, but I realise that may be a very large ask for a Thursday afternoon.

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    Doing The Right Thing

    As previously discussed on this blog and in The 10 Principles of Open Business, the value of trust to a business cannot be over-stated.
    But does that mean you are doing the right thing?
    Trust is the core component of the value of any brand, institution or organisation.
    And - as we make clear in The 10 Principles - we don't mean the 'we trust you to deliver' kind of trust that Ryanair used to rely on, we mean the 'we believe you have our best interests at heart' kind its more recent marketing has been tilted toward (yes, even Ryanair has grasped the essential difference and how important that has become to their sustained success).
    What this all boils down to is a shift in staff behaviour from Jobsworth to Doing The Right Thing.
    When the horse-meat scandal hit the European food-chain, Tesco's senior team didn't stop to ask themselves what they could get away with, or to investigate which suppliers they could point the blame at and pass the buck to, or spend weeks with the legal department honing what they would say to the press and on social media. No. Instead - as CMO at the time Matt Atkinson tells us in The 10 Principles - they simply went about doing the right thing; telling the truth as they knew it, opening up to provide transparency, giving money back without a quibble - acting as if they had the best interests of their customers at heart.
    That's really at the guts of my complaint about Hargreaves-Lansdown published yesterday. They are taking a Jobsworth attitude, hiding behind regulations, letters of the law.
    Today we expect something different: We expect them to Do The Right Thing.
    I don't blame the front line staff I have had to interact with for this - it is an organisational stance and that comes from the top.
    Tesco shifted theirs, thanks in no small part to ambitions to become an Open Business. The rebuilding of trust was (and remains) essential to that business.
    And if you want me to believe you have my best interests at heart you had best Do The Right Thing rather than what a set of terms and conditions protect you for. When The Computer Says No but your heart and head tell you Yes, it's wise to consider it's the computer that may be wrong...
    Contracts and regulations rarely cover every circumstance, every nuance. The relationship between customer and business, or business and supplier is built on trust. The moment you have to refer to the terms and conditions, the contract, the relationship is essentially at an end - you no longer trust each other or believe the other party has your best interest at heart.
    How do you make Doing The Right Thing endemic in your org? It's all about permission. I rather like what Avis has done in the US (again referred to in my book) where every member of staff (every member of staff, not just folk up the tree or behind the management desk) is empowered to give up to a set amount in dollar terms to resolve a customer's problems as they see fit, right there and then.
    That makes the ability to Do The Right Thing a genuine possibility to all.
    So ask yourself - in your organisation are the teams being encouraged to Do The Right Thing or keep the Jobsworth hat on? It could make all the difference to how long folk are prepared to keep trading with you.

    Thursday, July 16, 2015

    Taken without consent

    Apparently, if a financial institution changes what it charges you (including creating brand new fees) it can do that as long as it tells you. It doesn’t need a response from you. It just needs to tell you that from now on you get to pay them for something you never requested.
    It does not even need evidence that the message was received. Message sent,  it can get on with taking the money from your account.
    I’m not making this up – and according to the folk at Hargreaves-Lansdown –it’s all perfectly legal and within the rules.
    I bought some Royal Mail shares when the  last government was fool enough to give them away some time ago. I followed this trade with one other in which I sold the amount of Royal Mail shares that covered the cost of my investment within a few days. I left the rest in the Hargreaves-Lansdown account I’d opened specifically for the purpose. I used them because they were relatively easy to use online.
    That was my last transaction with them. And the last contact from customer to Hargreaves-Lansdown between then and now.
    In the meantime they sent me many letters in the post – pretty consistently marketing material aimed at getting me to invest in other shares with them. In short order I began to view them just as I do the regulars from Virgin about broadband – spam that goes direct to the bin – for the most part, unopened.
    A CRM or even learning business process could have saved them heaps in postage. The spam wasn’t working. The evidence is clear in my empty trading record.
    Unbeknownst to me, among this deluge of spam were letters informing me that they were now going to charge me for paper reports. Now, if you know me, the last thing in the world I am going to opt for is paper reports when a digital version is available. The fact is I didn’t opt in for either. But HL’s argument is that because I didn’t respond to their letters, telling me they were going to charge me for something I had neither requested nor had any intention of using, they could merrily take cash from my account.
    At first they took the share dividends my Royal Mail shares paid out without telling me. Then (and this is when the penny dropped for me at last) they sent a letter (one I did open) telling me my account held insufficient funds to cover fees that fell due. Fees? I thought. What fees? I didn’t k now I was paying these guys fees? Annual ones? I don’t recall opting for that? I never had, that’s why I couldn’t recall it.
    But because they had sent me a letter saying they were changing their terms from what was a free service to one which would now be billable, they were within their rights to bill me and then charge me even more.
    I don’t like being in debt to these types (it can ruin your credit rating), so I paid a further £20 odd at the weekend on a DD card. I do so without any grace.
    Now if all of this is within the letter of the law then I say shame on the law (or in this case the regulation). It’s clearly been designed to protect the institution over its customer.
    Think of other reasons why I may not have responded (apart from my learned behaviour of binning letters I consider spam). I may have moved house. I may have been in a coma. I may have been dead.
    So what? Ker-ching and another fee gets taken on another account to pay for something another person never requested or agreed to pay for. I wonder how many of us there are? (And if you have ever done a trade with Hargreaves-Lansdown I suggest you make checks).
    Oh – for the record – since December last year they have sent me around 40 emails. None of them refer to taking any fee from me for paper services. All of them are general marketing messages.

    Here’s a thought for Hargreaves-Lansdown: Instead of opting-in people to pay when you don’t hear back from them, stop sending out the paper documents instead. And when they contact you requesting you switch the service back on, have that conversation about paying for it. Somehow that would seem altogether more honest.
    The sums involved here may be small - but the principle is an important one. Everyone's mother teaches them: "Don't take without asking".

    And just before anyone tells me I should have opened my spam... a reminder on the importance of making sure messages are received by those for whom they are intended - from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

    UPDATE: On July 21, 2015 after a series of lengthy exchanges between myself and increasingly senior members of the H-L team, I finally received a refund for the latest report (though not, it has to be said, for previous fees taken on other occasions). 
    I was told of this in a message from the CEO. I'll be fair and say the tone was not somewhat questioning with a degree of surprise retained that I had not read their communications (to which I refer you to the video above).
    That being said, the CEO did say that their policy was that where people were unaware of the paper fee and contacted them then it was usually waived (provided they then swapped to paperless). That hadn't happened in my case costing both parties considerable time and effort.
    I will also note that I have only been refunded the most recent paper fee.  I'm still out of pocket on reports it seems I must continue to receive, though at least - as the digital option is now well and truly selected - future ones will be at no additional cost.
    The victory may be small (£12 back for - all my dividends on the shares I hold there plus a recent payment of just over £20) but at least the CEO knows in detail how his customer experience is working out right now...

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Trust should be priority 1 in digital transformation

    Many companies are waking up to how far behind they are on the Digital Maturity scale referred to in the recent Copgnizant sponsored paper by Brian Solis.
    But it seems to me too few are seeing their efforts toward digital transformation as more than a way in which they get to do more/faster to their customers. In my work on Open Business I have always argued that the single biggest win of digital transformation for organisations comes from the shift in relationship it enables.
    Yes there is great efficiency and effectiveness to be had from learning more about your customers' behaviour, their needs and their implicit and explicit desires. But it's unlikely you'll generate a meaningful relationship of trust purely by serving needs (think of the difference between helping to fix and then enjoy a family meal, and rushing in and out of McDonald's to grab a bite on the run).
    I don't argue that servicing need (and making it as easy as possible) isn't of extremely high value. I do argue that it is the tip of the iceberg that can be released through the shift in relationship with the consumer; from customer to partner. Trust, sense of ownership, shared purpose - all drive loyalty and increase spend. One regional co-operative I worked with boasted 50% membership among its customers. They accounted for 70% of the spend.
    The transparency and free communication digital delivers offers the promise of making all organisations accountable to their customers in the kind of way member organisations have always enjoyed.
    Trust accounts for the vast majority of the value of any brand.
    It therefore remains a mystery to me that building trust isn't always top of the digital transformation agenda.

    Sunday, May 17, 2015

    A chat with Amazon...

    A chat with Amazon....
    You're now connected to Govindaraj from
    Me:Hi yesterday I had a chat conversation here about a faulty mains adapter which came with the order I placed: ORDER # 205-9738485-2982704. I was told £15 was being refunded to me as the item was out of stock and therefore a replacement couldn't be sourced and I would have to purchase my own replacement or get it repaired. I was told I would get an email confirming the refund. This has not appeared in my inbox and in the mean time I have both purchased a replacement AND noticed that the item concerned IS in stock on amazon
    Govindaraj:Thank you for contacting My name is Govindharaj. May I know your name, please?
    Am I chatting with David?
    Govindaraj:Hello David,
    I understand that you have been promised to issue a partial refund of 15.00 GBP for the defective item by yesterday.
    Me:that's correct
    Govindaraj:Unfortunately our colleague have failed to issue a refund for your order.
    In order to help you, I'll issue a refund for your order now.
    Me:ok thank you. But cvan you also check if it is possible to simply send out the replacement adapter since the item it is part of is in stock?
    Govindaraj:I'm afraid, we are unable to send a adapter as a replacement for your order.
    I'll issue a partial refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate right now for placing new order straightaway.
    Me:Hang on. That's not a refund.
    Govindaraj:Yes. This is how we can issue a refund for your order.
    Otherwise, we cannot issue a partial refund for your order in other form.
    As per our Amazon Standard policy, we cannot issue partial refund for the items which are sold by our sellers.
    If you are not happy with the discount, I suggest you to return the item for a refund.
    Me:Thanks so much. I will of course bear this in mind in all future transactions with amazon. This was a prime vendor. What is the point of prime if you default on your legal responsibilities as soon as anything goes wrong?
    Govindaraj:I understand that you are a prime customer. When the item gets defective which are purchased from our seller, we should ask our customer return the item for a refund. We cannot send a replacement for the seller's fulfill item.
    I'll send the return label with additional return details vai email.
    Please return the item to us for a refund.
    After reviewing our previous correspondence with you, please accept my apologies for any misunderstanding caused. The promise which was made by our colleague by yesterday was an incorrect one.
    So, I suggest you to return the item for a refund.
    Me:NO it's o late for that I have already purchased a replacement (on amazon) for the mains adapter and it is showing that it has been despatched - so I'd end up with a useless adapter I've paid for (and not out of a gift voucher as I was excpecting a REFUND as told yesterday. So, please issue the refund as promised yesterday. My daughter is now using the item under battery power. Yesterday's promise made me spend MORE money with amazon (ie cash not gift certificates.). Get this osrted between you and tell me what you are going to do to correct both the delivery of a faulty item and poor communications internally.
    Govindaraj:I'm sorry, we are unable to issue a refund for your order in the form of Gift Certificate. We can only issue a partial refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate.
    Me:Then you had better add the cost of the additional item I paid cash for yesterday as a minimum - £8.03p. And this would have to be without prejuidice since I do not know at this stage if this will solve the problem
    Govindaraj:Please understand, David. We can issue a refund in the form of promotional Gift certificate you can make use of that for placing your next order.
    Me:I do understand. And I'm saying I have already spent money in the expectation of my refund being a refund. So I am asking in respect for that that you make the gift certificate up to £15 + that additional £8.08 ie (£23.08) and this remains without prejudice with the caveat that the replacement I purchase resolves the issue,
    Govindaraj:I'm afraid, we are unable to issue a refund of £15 +£8.08 for your order.
    Me:So that means you accept no blame for the misinformation I was given yesterday and the subsequent purchase I have made, just so we are both clear?
    Govindaraj:Please understand, David. As per our Amazon Standard policy, I can only help you by issue a 15.00 GBP refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate.
    Me:Govindaraj, please understand how much money I spend with Amazon each year. Do you want to lose that for the sake of a £8.03 in gift certificate. That's where we are headed right now so you may want to check if you can make an exception before we close.
    Govindaraj:Alright, I will issue a partial refund of £8.03 for you in the form of credit payment which you have spend for the another product as an exception.
    Please note this is against our standard policy, I'll going to do that as an exception.
    Me:Thank you. And so I am clear you will do this in addtion to the £15?
    Govindaraj:I'm sorry, we cannot issue a refund of 15 GBP as a promotional credit for the purchase.
    When you will return the item, we will issue full refund for the purchase.
    *return the item in future.
    Nazeera:Hello, my name is Nazeera.
    Thank you for contacting May I have your name, please?
    Me:we just lost connection. I was speaking with Goindaraj and had been for some time
    Sorry Govindaraj
    Nazeera:Hello David.
    May I place the chat on hold for a minute or two while I check this order for you?
    Me:Hello can you reconnect me with Govindaraj please?
    Nazeera:I’m sorry this is taking longer than expected. Please bear with me while I research your query.
    Thanks for waiting.
    : I understand that you have been promised to issue a partial refund of 15.00 GBP for the defective item by yesterday.
    Nazeera:I'm afraid, we are unable to issue a refund of £15 +£8.08 for your order.
    Me:I have spoken at length about this with Govindaraj. For too long. And I have much to do. so what's going on?
    Nazeera:As per our Amazon Standard policy, I can only help you by issue a 7.00 GBP refund in the form of Promotional Gift Certificate, else I will issue refund for the order £8.03.
    Me:So what are you doing about my defective item, the fact I was misinformed and have made another cash purchase on amazon as a result of that misinformation and now have spent a further half an hour repeating the whole story because you failed to send the refund yesterday.
    Nazeera:As per our Amazon Standard policy, we cannot issue partial refund for the items which are sold by our sellers. My colleague has promised with this incorrectly and he has already been coached on this.
    Me:Which helps me not one jot. Planet's most customer centric company? I don't think so. This was a prime vendor. Take some responsibilty for that badge.
    Any response?
    Me:Oh - right anoth4r lost connection huh?
    Lavanya:Hello, my name is Lavanya.
    Me:And you are the third person I have spoken to on this. Can you resolve in the next 2 minutes?
    Lavanya:I'm sorry your previous chat was disconnected. I will try and help you with your query.
    Me:YOu know all about it? Because I'm not goign over it all again
    Lavanya:May I know the name, e-mail address, and the first line of your billing address on your account, please?
    Me:David Cushman, xx xxxxxxxxx xxxx. And I've really had enough of this by now.

    Lavanya:Thank you for the details.
    In this case, It is not possible to issue a partial refund for the item. I request you to please return the item for full refund.

    Me:I have explained a million times. It is workign with bastteries currently. I have bought a replacement mains adapter for it on amazon yesterdasy aft5er I was told I was getting a £15 refund to cover that yesterday.
    I have no more time to discuss this. Please check with Govindaraj, Nazeera and crucuially your management before we waste any more of my time. email me your resolution and I will add it to this: full link) thanks


    The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?