M&S. The writing’s on the wall

It’s rare that I write a follow-up piece to a blog, but this one seems to be writing itself.  The willful deafness of M&S is a business-failure case study in the making. Back in July, I wrote a piece about how M&S were committing the cardinal sin of business, which is to ignore the views of their customers. It clearly touched a nerve, proving to be one of my most popular pieces and receiving [...]

Can M&S turn things around? Only if they start listening

Poor old Marks & Sparks.  Rarely out of the news, although these days it’s more often gloom and doom in the business pages than a glowing piece in the fashion supplements. Their latest set of ‘disappointing’ results, which show food sales also starting to tank, triggered a further slew of premature obituaries.  In Marketing Week, Mark Ritson bases a piece on brand equity on M&S’s predicament.  He sounds the death knell, concluding that any [...]

Licensed to spam?

Last week, I wrote a piece about how poor digital marketing practice is damaging our industry.  At the heart of this is not just how brands are failing to build meaningful relationships with their audiences, but the fact that they're often actively disengaging them. Like many areas of marketing practice, addressing the basics is not rocket science, but it does take work.  Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help ensure they’re truly engaged [...]

Tipping point?

Back in December 2014, I wrote a blog about the archaic and confusing practice of tipping serving staff in restaurants.  I suggested it was time to end the frequent ‘bill shock’ and the lottery of who actually gets the money.  A few months later, the media was full of stories about the big restaurant chains withholding or deducting tips (for ‘admin fees’ or to 'share' with the wider team) and in some cases, actually [...]

Deep Fried Crickets and Beetroot Yogurt, Anyone?

One of the things I love most about working with the hospitality sector is their constant drive to innovate. Bars and restaurants are always on the hunt for the Next Big Thing, and even those extreme ideas, which start life in the scientific kitchens of chefs like Heston Blumenthal, eventually filter their way down to more everyday establishments. I’ve been looking through some trend reports to see what’s predicted for 2015. Baum & Whiteman’s excellent summary [...]

To Tip Or Not To Tip? That Is The Question…

A recent survey claimed almost two thirds of Britons were “unwilling” to pay a service charge and many are confused about tipping etiquette. There’s worse news for bartenders, as 98% would never tip for a drink. Is it a cultural thing, or is it down to a generation growing up with fast food and takeaways? I know I always (inwardly) question exactly why I’m tipping my hairdresser or taxi driver, when all they’ve done is [...]

By | 2017-01-04T19:51:26+00:00 December 15th, 2014|Customer Service & Experience, Retail & Hospitality|0 Comments

Who’s Menu Is It Anyway?

We’re all creatures of habit, apparently, regularly ordering the same coffee, lunchtime sandwich or even dinner at a smart restaurant. But how annoyed would you be if your favourite item wasn’t available anymore? Would you just order something else, or feel that your day had been ruined? A New York Times writer recently lamented the demise of her favourite sandwich at her regular lunch spot, fondly remembering her husband making a special trip to get [...]

Want Great Restaurant Service? Then Pay Attention!

I just read a fascinating piece about a New York restaurant, whose owners couldn't understand why they kept getting such bad online reviews. The food wasn't a problem, but clearly the service was - how long it was taking, wait times for tables etc. But as they'd recently shortened the menu and employed more staff, it just didn’t add up. To help them understand what was happening, they watched some 10-year-old CCTV tapes, and compared [...]

Happiness On The High Street? Cheap Clearly Isn’t Cheerful

Regular readers of my blog may remember the post I wrote in January about how retailers blame poor sales on just about everything apart from the customer experience. Which? Magazine has just published its annual Shopper Survey, based on satisfaction and likelihood to recommend - and the importance of excellent customer service could not be clearer. The headlines are that Lush, Disney, Richer Sounds, John Lewis and Waterstones make up the Top 5 and Apple [...]

How NOT To Do Customer Service

As a companion piece to my last blog (Time to Address the Relationship Disconnect), I’ve written a handy ‘how not to do customer service’ checklist. Poor customer service is now so commonplace in the UK that comedians build entire routines out of it; the curse of the unexpected item in the bagging area, the endless ‘your call is important to us’ messages while they leave you sat on hold and the never-ending IVR menus. (“Press [...]