Archive for March, 2009
I’m off to have another little operation so I won’t be posting for a few weeks and I’ve turned off comments for the duration.
In the meantime, here are a few of my favourite posts that you also seem to quite like judging by my blog stats:
It appears that a depressed economy results in (sometimes misleadingly) uplifting marketing and content.
Marley and Me (major spoiler follows), about an uncontrollable Labrador and his hapless owners has cleaned up at the US and UK box office. It was marketed as a lightweight comedy, but I saw it over the weekend and it seems they forgot to mention that the dog dies at the end. The cinema was packed with people obviously wanting to see something cheerful – but they actually started to walk out when it became clear that the doggy wasn’t going to make it. I stayed ‘til the bitter end and cried…
first direct (who are a client of OnVisible, work’s online PR division) are launching a social media campaign about the little things that make a big difference to someone’s day, which looks like it’s going to focus heavily on making people happy.
Its seems that consumers are really responding to anything uplifting. Maybe the best opportunity for brands to engage at the moment is to offer a ray of sunshine amidst the economic gloom.
Since it’s Red Nose Day (at least I hope it is, or the large number of blokes in the office who chose to wear dressing gowns to work today have a lot of explaining to do), I thought I’d share this (love the concept, not so keen on the ending):
So I was sitting in the car dealership this morning, waiting for them to finish my car’s service, which they started in December and inexplicably failed to complete vital bits of at the time (and will now charge me extra £££ for).
I’d been there for the best part of an hour during rush hour but only four other people had come in to drop their cars off so the service bays weren’t exactly a hive of activity and the three blokes sat behind the service desk were looking a bit bored.
They perked up a bit when the phone rang, only to inform the customer on the other end of the phone that no, they couldn’t possibly valet her car while it was in for a service, but it would get pushed through the car wash as normal.
Hang on? The dealership is not exactly jumping with activity (presumably the current economic climate is discouraging people from getting non essential servicing work done) and you can’t find a vacuum cleaner from somewhere to delight a customer?
I know that a lot of businesses are trying to cut out costs wherever they can (this particular dealership used to return cars from a service in showroom condition), but it seems to me that at the moment businesses should be aiming to go the extra mile, not cut corners.
It doesn’t have to be particularly costly, but showing customers that you really value them choosing to spend their money with you during these difficult times is priceless.
So how does this translate to AgencyLand? Is it about making sure that the client’s favourite biscuits are in the meeting room? Spotting an interesting article in the paper and emailing it over? Delivering the work a day early? Or is that just decent client service in the first place?
Via the SmartBrief on Social Media e-newsletter, I found this post at Conversation Agent on the top 10 reasons why your customers are being difficult.
But perhaps rather than specific, economy related reasons like customers feel you’re charging too much or customer service reasons like you make it difficult to reach the right person, I think there has been an overall rise in our expectations. We actually expect things to work first time and any problems to be resolved quickly.
So when a brand doesn’t deliver, customers get disappointed, aka ‘difficult’ – and understandably agitated when their complaints get the same sub-standard response.
A great example is over at That Gormandizer Man about Mark’s experiences with thetrainline.com, which he sums up in one word – FAIL.
Or take my 3 month battle with Vodafone to get my new phone up and running. Which was finally (sort of) resolved yesterday. Everything has now been delivered and is working (touch wood). After some chivvying, Vodafone decided that my investment of 20+ hours in trying to sort out all the problems and the inconvenience that involved was worth a measly £10 credit on my bill. Sigh.
One of my friends is a vet and she was telling me today about the special business skills for vets course she’s taking because “you’d be amazed how many vets end up in charge of large practices without any idea of how to run a business”.
I said that sounded pretty familiar actually. Just because someone is a great copywriter, designer or even account handler it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are equipped with the ability to read a balance sheet or to get their heads around the latest health & safety legislation.
Of course agencies have always relied on back room finance, facilities and HR staff to keep the business running smoothly, but it strikes me that a broad understanding of little things like the difference between net and gross profit is perhaps a bit thin on the ground in some (but not all!!!) agency boardrooms.
Which might explain away a few agency failures over the years…