Friday, April 18, 2014

Laura Ashley Fail to See THe Big Picture

I must say that it never fails to surprise me how even the larger and you would think, smarter and more established businesses fail to see the big picture when it comes to customer satisfaction, lifetime value of the customer and ultimately brand promise and reputation.

In yet another staggeringly poor example of customer service I found myself wanting to return an item to Laura Ashley on the basis that after only one brief use for literally 5 minutes, I could see that on the basis of its design the sides of the foot rest were pulling across the top and sides of the unit and this puckering could only worsen over time.

Realising that this simply was not the design required, we called back the store and speaking to the 2IC were told to bring the unit in, in person because she (the 2IC) would need to see the unit in person to make a decision and this could not be done by the other staff in the store.

At the first available opportunity I brought the unit in to the store  and explained the situation to the same 2IC who then proceeded to tell me she did not have the authority to make the decision so I would need to come back in 20 or 30 minutes when the manager returned from her lunch.

Accordingly I returned later and presented her with the same facts and the unit fully in tact as I had purchased it.  I would have imagined that a simple exchange would have occurred at this stage and that would have been that but no the plot was about to thicken.

At this point I was told a number of other things including the fact that they did not think anything was wrong with the unit and there was nothing there. Later on this changed to yes there was some puckering but all units have this type of pulling at the top, which was interesting given that initially they had said there was nothing there.

And of course the third thing was that the manager said that she would have exchanged the unit had we come within two weeks of the sale with a voluntary exchange but after a little over three weeks, this could no longer be an option despite the fact that we had called and registered the issue within two weeks and were told by the assistant manager to bring it in at our earliest convenience which we did.

As you read this description of the proverbial changing of the goal posts, you may be able to relate to it personally where you have been in this type of position with this or some other leading brand. I am staggered of course because after years of buying from them, their attitude is seemingly not to protect the goodwill established but rather to protect the sale. Surely the integrity of the sales process and the all-important customer relationship are much more valuable to the business than the one sale.

For the record the footrest was valued around $140. I put this number up against what has already been spent in years to this point and what may yet be spent in years to come and I can only wonder why for the good of the particular store, the brand and the profitability of the company, these managers are not more focused on the need for customer service, managerial discretion, the integrity of the product being sold and above all, lifetime value of the customer.

To finish this anecdote I have just heard that after great deliberation They will in fact refund my money. I'm grateful and pleased about this of course but it should not have been such a great ordeal. 

In closing I am reminded of one of the most powerful lines I have ever read from Robert Bolt's incomparable play 'A Man for All Seasons' where Thomas More says:
“Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for Wales."
And certainly not for $140.

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Digital Enterprise Program Goes from Strength to Strength

It is really thrilling to be able to report back to you all how wonderfully well the Federally funded, Digital Enterprise Program (D.E.P) has begun in recent weeks with packed out sessions for many of the free workshops being delivered all around the city through the various councils under the auspices of VECCI ere in Victoria.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are 7 state of the art two hour workshops which are free for all attendees and cover off all the key areas of interest in all things digital media. Specifically they are:
1. Developing an e-strategy

2. Improving business efficiencies: Online tools and applications

3. The benefits and risks of digital marketing

4. Social Media

5. Going global online

6. E-commerce

7. Managing customer relationships online

To register for any or all of these workshops  you can visit: or Email: or Phone:  VECCI directly on  (03) 8662 5333 to register for them at a date and venue that suits you.
By attending any of the 7 workshops each attendee will also be able to sign up for a free,  one on one 4 hour coaching and mentoring session for their business at their location. FREE. 
This is simply too good to pass up on and I urge everyone to not only get involved with the DEP themselves but also to forward this post to their networks so that their contacts can also benefit from this remarkably generous digital marketing initiative.
So until next time, Good luck and good marketing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty this Time for Facebook With Its Purchase of WhatsApp

The last week has been an amazing time as we have all followed the ongoing discussion that surrounds the decision for Facebook to purchase the application: WhatsApp for a staggering US$16 Billion (AUS$19 Billion).

  Predictably this move has polarised opinion with some saying that the almost $20 Billion price tag being ridiculous especially in  light of the fact that Facebook offered to buy WhatsApp main rival: Snap Chat for around $3 Billion but the offer was declined. Maybe so but a year later is paying 6 times more for a similar product the best thing you can do with this money.

Well you'd have to say that many Facebook shareholders think not and instantly many decided to sell their shares causing the stock to go into free fall. Again is this a good or a bad thing for investors. I guess it all depends on how you see the value of the deal and what it may eventually bring to Facebook.

WhatsApp is a platform that lets you send free messages and make free calls to other users regardless of what mobile platform or provider they use. 

So what is the upside? Firstly the product current has around 450 million active users and is growing quickly. It is a quality product that has differentiated itself by not having any advertising on the site which as we all know can be a real announce to everyone.

Instead users pay $0.99 per download instead of generating advertising revenue and this is clearly going to help drive Facebook's top line revenue well above its current 5 Billion dollars a year mark and help position them as a serious contender in the mobile arena as the trend in the increasing use of mobile devices continues to grow as evidenced by Facebook itself confirming that around 80% of online users are now entering Facebook via a mobile device.

So will this deal pay off for Mark Zuckerberg or prove in time to have been a serious lapse in judgement and fiscal sense. Just two years after paying one billion dollars for Instagram and saying that he was not sure if Facebook would ever make a similar purchase again, he signs off on this.
No doubt that in time we will be able to see more clearly if in deed the Facebook glass was half full or half empty. It will certainly be interesting to watch.

And until next time, good luck and good marketing.

PS:  And remember to come along to our free, Digital Marketing Program seminars.
Just call VECCI to speak to Maria D'Cunha on: (03) 8662 5126 and find out the next time Trent Rebeiro or I are presenting at a Venue near you.  Hope to see you all there for a good chat.