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Your window to The World

Your Window to The WorldI was driving down the M4 the other day and spotted a rather interesting livery on a removal van. To protect the innocent I won’t mention the name of the company but it is necessary to mention that the company name started with an A as in A……… Removals. The livery on the rear of the van in large font was A…… Removals Surprisingly Economical, written vertically with the capital of each of the four words in a different colour so that they stood out. My first reaction was a double take then a smile. Then I started thinking more widely about the message being transmitted. Having worked for a large blue chip company I applauded the freedom of choice as I am sure the decision was not made by committee and signed off by compliance after checking with a marketing control group etc. etc.

Then I started, rather surprisingly, thinking all of the red tape probably has a place in our lives. Why? Because I started to think what does writing the word A..E on your vehicles really say about you and your business? It might mean that you are fun to be with, it might mean that you are a risk taker, it might mean that you snub your nose at authority, hey , you might even be the type of person that I might like to share a drink with, BUT the $64,000 question is do I want you and your mates to look after my flat screen TV or my mum’s knick knacks which are not valuable but are irreplaceable , the $64.000 answer is probably not.

Like most personal and business relationships we are all judged not by our intention but by our impact. So whether it is those answering your phone, your front office staff, the way your management team lead your people or a few words painted on your van, it is not about what your intentions are, rather, it is about the impact this has on those that you are trying to attract or influence. What is your window to the world, your window to your customers (or potential customers) really saying about you?

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I feel sorry for the people on the front line

Sorry for people on the front lineA quick trip into one of my local shops to pick up a paper is providing me with a revealing insight into the how the business is run. It is a small store for a major PLC retailer……

I was in the queue behind an elderly gentleman, who like me, had just gone in to purchase a paper. The shop assistant handed him a small leaflet, whilst waiting for the till receipt to be printed. He indicated that he didn’t want it. “But I have to give it to you” she protested; reluctantly and very politely he took it from her. “If you then want to give it back to me that is OK!” she then added. Somewhat shocked he returned the voucher and left. I took the voucher when it was my turn, keen to see what all the fuss was about.

It was a two for one voucher for Merlin Entertainments Attractions. Every time I go in I get handed one of these presumably “because they have to”; even though I go in most days (convenience!), there is no appreciation that I have a small wad of these now. Or at least a street bin has!

It got me wondering about what this woman had been told would happen to her if she did not comply (how would anyone actually know?) with every customer. I also wondered whether the income received for this labour intensive “promotion” was worth the potential alienation of customers. They may be better walking around local streets and just pushing them through letterboxes. I also wondered what training she had had as to how to “sell” this leaflet and why it was important for her to do so – “I have to give it to you, but you can give it back” doesn’t seem to be a very effective selling technique.

Today my wife purchased some greetings cards. She was asked (bizarrely) if she wanted to buy a gift card for £10.00. When she declined the shop assistant indicated that if she bought a card and put £10.00 on it, the shop would add £5.00 and she could then use the gift card to pay for her purchases saving her £5.00. This is odd behaviour; I can only imagine the poor woman is tasked with “selling” more of these gift cards and has worked out that this is a good way of upping her performance. Of course, it is costly for her employers – the card comes at a cost, the discount is immediate, and it is not what the cards are designed for (they are gift cards, with a delay between the shop taking the money and the gift card being redeemed, if ever!). It all seems a bit desperate…………

So what are you doing that is counter-productive either in cash/profit terms or simply in alienation of your customers? How are your front-line staff actually delivering your messages to your customers? Next!