Own your customer’s problem

when-the-customer-isnt-right-in-sales-salesman1Current mood.

So. The last two days I had a bit of an issue with my phone. Well, it’s not exactly my phone which is actually a breeze to use (iPhone 6s), it’s my phone service provider, GO.

You see, I’ve had a corporate subscription with GO for years. I’ve now left my previous company to join a startup. In the startup we use another supplier instead of GO which means we need to do a transition so I can keep my eight-year-old number. So what should have happened is the following:

Previous company cancels corporate subscription and downgrades it to a prepaid. I use a prepaid until the transfer between new supplier and GO is made. I keep my number and everyone is happy (well, maybe not GO, but who cares?).

The problem is that right now I can’t call from my phone. Why? Well, my subscription is apparently cancelled, but when I try to top up the phone it doesn’t allow me to because according to GO’s system, I’m still on the subscription. But if I’m still on the subscription, why can’t I make phone calls?

This phone limbo is rather frustrating so I’ve called GO’s customer service twice. The reply, after a long pointless talk where I’ve done my best to contain my rage, has been that the errand will be put with a technician. Since this has happened twice, I’m thinking it wasn’t done at all the first time.

My problem here, and the reason I headlined this post “Own your customer’s problem” and not “F##%#”!& GO, you mu#%&#”&s” which is a bit closer to how I really feel, is that I get the sense that the customer representative just wants to get rid of me and put the problem over to tech (with the high risk that it gets forgotten, lost and I have to call them again very soon). Not once do I get the feeling that they understand how frustrating it is not to be able to make phone calls and that they will do their utmost to help me.

I’m not an important person, I can surely live without being able to call for a few days. That’s not the point. The point is that great customer service should make you feel important and should make you feel like they understand your problem and won’t leave a stone unturned until it’s fixed.

GO customer service left no such impression. Maybe they’re measured on how many calls they can respond to and not how many problems they can solve or how many customers they will make genuinely happy.

I think the real basics of keeping customers content is making them able to actually use the service you provide. It’s definitely not rocket science. But so many companies fail in this, most basic, of respects.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@jonaswrites” url=”http://www.jonaswrites.com/own-your-customers-problem” display_mode=”box”]The customer isn’t always right, but make sure he at least feels like he is.[/tweetthis]

New adventures

bgec

After more than eight years with Betsson Group, it’s time for new adventures. And I don’t like to waste time so today I did my first day as the CMO for a startup in the financial trading business. It didn’t feel weird at all.

The journey at Betsson Group was a crazy one. I was employee nr 80. When I left we were 1800 and there are no signs of slowing growth.

What I take with me after eight frantic years? Obviously a LOT. Many stories, learnings, accomplishments and failures. When you’re with a company during a high-paced growth spurt it’s sort of like a child growing up, with all its personality changes, mood swings, and good and bad moments. In short: it’s business on speed.

But despite giving and receiving a lot, I still feel like I have more energy than ever. Maybe it’s just more focused and efficient. Maybe it’s the excitement of a new challenge. No matter what, I think there comes a point when we all need to step outside the comfort zone, leave the box, fly the nest, whatever cliché you deem fitting. It’s a recurring key step in our personal growth.

I’m proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish during my eight years, but I’m even more happy about the things I’ve learned. And I sincerely hope I can use them in my new job and keep learning with it.

I will be writing about my new journey here and also sharing it in my other outlets. I’ll list them all here below.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to make the move. It might be scary at first, but it can turn out to be the best thing you ever did. And if not, I’m sure you’ll learn enough to make the next thing you do, your best damn decision ever.

Enjoy the ride. (And make it yours.)
/Jonas

PS. Reach, connect, comment at: Twitter ; Instagram ; Linkedin ; Facebook  DS.

There is time for nice

Employee-Motivation-Organizational-CultureSaw the brilliant Office Space a few weeks ago. Still relevant today.

Do top level managers have no time for pleasantries? Are they always too busy to say thanks, hi or stop for a quick chat in the corridor? I would say no. I’ve met the opposite a few times, but also the ones that make me write this post.

I come off as a bit tough, I know. But I was raised to believe it’s not too difficult to try and bring a smile with you as often as possible.

In many ways it’s common sense. Treat people with respect, be friendly and humble and you’ll get all that back and more. It’s also more fun. And it’s definitely not THAT difficult.

As history has proven to us, being an asshole doesn’t stop you from reaching success in life. On the contrary, maybe the lack of inhibitions and manners will make you worry less about stepping on toes and elbowing people and make it easier for you to take care of your top priority – you.

But is it nice to be an asshole? Is it fun? Isn’t life more interesting when you connect with people and build relationships? When you treat people well? After all, being nice doesn’t mean you can’t be honest and give tough feedback. But unless you also give good feedback, you’ll never maximize the potential of your employees.

And then you (and your business) lose.

I will always wonder about the people who believe it’s okay to be rude in the office. You are you, also at work. You’re not hiding behind a facade or acting in a some kind of cubicle movie. What you say and do reflect on your character. And if you don’t understand that, you are the one that look stupid, not the employees that you treat like they’re stupid.

End of rant. Smile a bit from time to time, will ya?

How to think like Elon Musk

Francesco_Hayez_001Aristotle nicely drawn by Francesco Hayez in 1800s.

I read an article today about entrepreneur/rockstar/innovator Elon Musk and his approach. This is what he had to say about the philosophy that sparked ventures such as SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

“The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”

It’s logical really to question everything, but it requires a lot more energy so you need to know when to resort to that kind of critical thinking. What I like about first principle thinking is that it’s about thinking BIG, outside the box and challenging what we already (think) we know today.

Read about Elon Musk’s approach to SpaceX here

First principle thinking is not new of course. This is what greek philosopher Aristotle had to say about it:

In every systematic inquiry (methodos) where there are first principles, or causes, or elements, knowledge and science result from acquiring knowledge of these; for we think we know something just in case we acquire knowledge of the primary causes, the primary first principles, all the way to the elements. It is clear, then, that in the science of nature as elsewhere, we should try first to determine questions about the first principles. The naturally proper direction of our road is from things better known and clearer to us, to things that are clearer and better known by nature; for the things known to us are not the same as the things known unconditionally (haplôs). Hence it is necessary for us to progress, following this procedure, from the things that are less clear by nature, but clearer to us, towards things that are clearer and better known by nature. (source: Wikipedia)

Reading the above might easily get your head a little tired, but principal thinking doesn’t really need a detailed explanation. What you should do is move backwards in your thought process and question the things you already take for granted and try to see the problem/situation from another viewpoint. This is the kind of thinking that can really drive innovation, create huge ideas and change the world.

And for the true entrepreneur, innovator, artist, etc…it’s definitely worth the effort. Just ask Mr Musk.

Sympathetic Pricing – A New Way Into Consumer Hearts/Wallets?

2012-01-06-Sympathetic SharkThe sympathetic shark above is courtesy of muffincomics.com

I subscribe to the trendwatching.com newsletter and the latest issue talked about Sympathetic Pricing, labelled as a new wave in the overall trend to improve the conscience of businesses.  Here is the report that I summarize very briefly below.

It comes as no surprise that consumers still don’t believe that business have their best interest top of mind. According to PR firm’s COHN & WOLFE’s 2013 report just 5% of consumers in the UK and US believe big businesses are very transparent and honest.

Will this ever change? Well, a lot of companies are trying through sympathetic pricing. So what the heck is sympathetic pricing?

DEFINITION OF SYMPATHETIC PRICING | Flexible and imaginative discounts that help ease lifestyle pain points, lend a helping hand in difficult times, or support a shared value.

There are a few different kinds of sympatethic pricing:

1. PAINKILLER PRICING
Discounts that target lifestyle pain points.

Trendwatching gives the example of the impressive taxi company Uber:

In April 2014 during a 48-hour London tube strike, mobile cab app Uber offered 50% off all London trips for passengers who split their fare with another passenger. Meanwhile, in October 2013 the company offered free rides to students in Boston during a 24-hour bus strike.

There are more examples of painkiller pricing in the report.

2. COMPASSIONATE PRICING
Discounts that offer a helping hand at a difficult time.

In April 2014, online platform Pressfolios announced it would make its service available for free to journalists affected by a staff lay-off by New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger. Pressfolios allows users to create an online portfolio. The out-of-work journalists received a Pressfolios Pro account with unlimited storage for three months, at no cost.

3. PURPOSEFUL PRICING
Discounts in support of a shared value or belief.

As an incentive for motorists to leave their cars at home, all Parisian public transport was free for one weekend in March 2014. The decision was made by transport chiefs in response to the dangerously high levels of pollution which had engulfed the French capital for days.

I think sympathetic pricing makes a whole a lot of sense. Business need to become more human to win consumer interest and this is a great step in the right direction. Our agile online world makes it easier for business to launch sympathetic campaigns quickly and react to world events and target consumers who are in need of a “break”.

It will be interesting to see which businesses can use sympathetic pricing to create a closer bond with their customer base.

Do you experience company culture problems?

corporate_culture

I found a great post form Forbes about called “10 Signs That a Company Has a Serious Culture Problem” by Shane Atchison of Possible. It’s very good and that’s why I quote it below in full.

Do you or have you worked in a company with a serious culture problem? Please comment below!

10 Signs That a Company Has a Serious Culture Problem
by Shane Atchison

Looking for a job? It always surprises me how few people interviewing at my company ask about our culture. But they should. Over the last several months, we’ve all seen two cultural meltdowns that got big media play, and neither company came off well. In one, a woman named Julie Horvath resigned from GitHub and took to Twitter to complain about its alpha-male culture. This eventually led to the resignation of the CEO. In the other, a PayPal manager named Rakesh Agrawal began saying nasty things about other executives on Twitter. They tweeted back that he was mentally ill and they hoped he would find the help he needs. No matter what he did, that was not the sign of a happy workplace.

Aside from the unpleasantness, bad cultures are also bad for your career. Successful people tend to work for winners, and a good culture has been shown to drive long term financial performance. Work for a happy place, and you’ll likely do better in life.

However, that brings up a question. How can you know anything about a company’s culture when you only go for a single interview? Believe it or not, there are signs. As an advertising agency, my company does interviews with dozens of potential clients every year. Over time, we’ve come up with a list of red flags for company culture. No one of them, by itself, should turn you off. But if you see, say, five of them, you know you have a problem on your hands. Here they are:

1. They make a big deal out of the Ping-Pong table. Having a Ping-Pong table is fine; bragging about one is not. Why? The corporate world has somehow equated owning one with having a fun loving-culture. If your potential employers emphasize theirs, it may be a sign they’re checking off boxes rather than giving their employees what they really want.

2. The place is a dump. Whenever I walk into an office, I look along sightlines. If I see boxes sitting in the aisles and chairs piled up in meeting rooms, I know no one cares about the place. And there is probably a good reason why.

3. Only the leaders have offices. We’re always leery of a place where everyone has a cube except for the bosses. That usually indicates a hierarchical structure in which management and employees are at odds.

4. No one talks about culture. Companies should try to sell you on their culture. If the person interviewing you only wants to talk about your qualifications, ask yourself what she’s not telling you about the work environment.

5. Leadership demonstrates bad culture. Culture always flows from the top. You may not have a chance to meet senior management, but you can probably track down a video of them. Your initial reaction may speak volumes about how much you’ll enjoy working at the company.

6. Your interviewer talks about excellence. Every organization strives to succeed. That’s a given. A company that emphasizes excellence may also hold its employees to unachievable standards. Rather than focusing on your job, you’ll be worrying about your job.

7. It just seems weird. A happy workplace should hum. Some people should be up, moving around, and talking to one another. They should not seem bored or stressed. So take a look around, and ask yourself if the average person seems happy or not.

8. The company values are posted on the wall. If you see this, don’t bother with the interview. Simply find the nearest exit and walk through it.

9. It’s five o’clock, and everyone is buried in work. If you can, schedule your interview late. Five o’clock gives you a great opportunity to see how a company manages the work-life balance. A few people working late are fine, but some should be heading home.

10. If they ask you if you have a question, ask this: “How much time do you spend with your coworkers after 5 p.m., and doing what?” Good answers include having a beer and playing softball. Bad answers include anything to do with work, unless it happens only occasionally.

A lot of people would say that work should be a place for work and that these days any job is a good one. Agreed. Obviously you should get the job you can if you’re having trouble finding one. But if you have a choice of employers, try for one with a good culture. You’ll be happier, and your career will thank you.

In fact, the only downside to a good culture is that you’ll never become famous for ranting about your boss on Twitter. Then again, that 15 minutes is probably best left to someone else.

Twitter demonstrates customer centricity

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.00.55

Customer centricity is the buzzword for companies the world over, but buzzwords doesn’t always translate into sensible actions. But the above is Twitter’s way of understanding what I want and helping me sort it out. It’s a bold move to change something without asking the customer first, but, and I assume this is built on some solid data, they “know” what I want and what my obstacle for achieving it is (laziness in this case, because I could have just switched those notifications off) – so they help me!

It’s not grand, it’s not amazing, it’s not awesome, but it’s customer centric and I really appreciate that.

Good work, Twitter. Keep it up.

Ryanair rebrand

ryanair_ad_11
Fake ad

Yesterday I booked a trip to Bergamo (vacation) with Ryanair. I’m traveling frequently through work, but there was a long time since I flew with the controversial airline. I haven’t been able to avoid them in media though with their CEO Michael O’Leary appearing in media (mostly as a “defendant”) from time to time. Here are his “daftest” quotes according to the Guardian.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or are lucky enough never having used the airline, Ryanair are famous for cheap flights but crappy service, doubtful security measures and intricate ways to try and squeeze more money out of each customer. Earlier they didn’t seem to care a whole lot about their customers as is evident in this line from the CEO:

“I don’t give a shit if no one likes me. I’m not a cloud bunny or an aerosexual. I don’t like aeroplanes. I never wanted to be a pilot like those other platoons of goons who populate the airline industry.”

Anyway, as a part of their rebranding they have revamped their website. Their previous one was coded by the devil and besides hanging at the worst possible moment at times (transactions) you felt like Dante trying to navigate through a cybernetic inferno full of challenges involving web forms.

Now it’s better, but it still costs you at least 25 euro per flight to check in a bag (15 kg) and if you don’t do it at the moment you buy the tickets it costs 30 euro per flight which feels slightly ridiculous. But then again, the flights are cheap = the whole point and reason for their existence.

Let’s hope for a good flight!

Brand Leadership

I bought two new books on my holiday (more about the second one,Taschen’s 1000 record covers, in a later post). Here’s about Brand Leadership.

Brand Leadership by David A.Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler is hailed as one of the best books on branding. Management guru Tom Peters describes it this way: “This is it on branding. Read it…or else.” I’ve read parts of it on flights and although I knew a lot of it already, it’s just a fantastic reminder of the beautiful areas of building a brand, brand strategy and brand leadership. You can buy it on Amazon (my preferred shop for books, although mostly Kindle)  by clicking this link: Brand Leadership: Building Assets In an Information Economy and a few cents will go to this blog.