Monthly Archives: June 2015

Caught In The Storm (Part 1)

I know it’s Thursday, but we’re going to begin our Foodie Friday Fun today. This is actually a two-part post about my dinner experience the other night and there are some instructive business points I took away.

I’ve been traveling this week on business. A fellow has to eat, so I had made a reservation via Open Table a week or so ago. It’s a place I had been before and liked a lot. Upon arrival, there was a note on the door that the place was closed for a private party and all non-party seating would be outside. I’m not a huge fan of dining al fresco and given there was a massive storm about 2 minutes away (no exaggeration – thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and extreme winds), outdoors was no option. There was no one from the restaurant at the host stand to provide further detail. I flagged down a waiter, explained that I had a reservation, and asked if there a table someplace away from the party where I could dine? He went to find a manager and came back with a polite but firm “no”.

Under normal circumstances, I might be a little angry and very disappointed. Given that leaving the area was a non-starter (by this time it was a deluge), I was mad. The place is in an indoor complex with other restaurants but most were fast food places that held no appeal. I ended up in a faux Irish Pub and we’ll continue the tale there in a minute.

What could have been done differently? First, if the party was booked prior to last week (I’m willing to bet it was), the times should have been blocked in Open Table. The manager must have been counting on outdoor seating being available and thought he could double-dip – have a big party and serve a bunch of covers as well.  It was not possible due to the weather, but even if it had been, anyone making a reservation (me) should have been informed they must eat outside. Second, they should have reviewed the day’s reservations as they opened up and reached out – my contact information is in the reservation – and said there was a problem. In a perfect world, they’d offer a suggestion of a comparable place and maybe even make the reservation for me. Third, someone should have been greeting the diners they were turning away. There was a table greeting the party goers but it wasn’t staffed by restaurant employees.  In short, this place put their own needs – the party, maximize revenues – ahead of the needs of their customers.  There were a few others who showed up when I did and who seemed equally disappointed.  There actually were a few tables being served outside – I didn’t stick around to see what happened to their food when the storm hit – I don’t imagine they were allowed inside by the invisible management.

As we all know, unhappy customers make a lot more noise than happy ones.  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about what became a happy ending and more business points learned as two other businesses get it right.

Leave a comment

Filed under Consulting, food, Helpful Hints

What Are We Buying?

There was a piece this morning about how Samsung appears to be blocking Windows updates on its laptops. The folks over at The Next Web are reporting on a security researcher’s findings during his investigation of Samsung’s softwareupdater. That updater installs another app:

Automatic Updates 'Restart Required' in Window...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The app, conspicuously named Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, is installed automatically without the owner’s knowledge. According to a support representative, it’s there to stop the computer from automatically downloading drivers from Windows Update that could be incompatible with the system or cause features to break.

Unfortunately for Samsung it also appears to change the user’s update settings and disables Windows Update entirely. Once installed, the app even disables Windows Update after the user re-enables it.

As anyone who has ever owned a Windows computer knows, no updates means security risks and other issues.  Which raises a question – who owns the device?  When you buy a house, you’re free to make whatever changes you want – paint it, knock down a wall, or add on.  When you rent, your options are far fewer in number and you might not be allowed to make any structural changes at all.  In my mind, Samsung is behaving like a landlord – you’re a tenant, don’t change our building’s structure.

They’re not alone in this.  Think about your iPhone – your ability to make changes to the device are pretty limited.  Even Andriod phones carry bloatware from manufacturers and carriers that can’t be removed unless you void your warranty and gain root access.  As Wired reported John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

I’m sure you have other examples, but it raises the question of who owns what we buy?  At what point does the notion of ownership become outdated?  You might not realize it but you may not own your music, your electronic books, or even your car from a legal perspective.  So what are we buying?

Leave a comment

Filed under Huh?, Thinking Aloud

Socially Devoted To You

The folks at Socialbakers do a quarterly study on how well companies respond to consumers via social media.  Here is how they put it:

Socially Devoted brands understand the shifting paradigm of customer care. They know that the most responsive and dynamic audiences are on social and those people want responses to their questions and issues.

If your brand responds to at least 65% of audience questions on Facebook and/or Twitter, you qualify as Socially Devoted. The benefits of Social Devotion are clear – Socially Devoted brands get 3.5 times more Interactions than their less-responsive counterparts.

Needless to say, some brands are really good at this but many are not.  Sadly, US companies ranked near last globally in responding to customer inquiries on social.  What I found surprising was that it wasn’t the business sectors or brands – airlines and telecommunications to name names – that were at the bottom of the responsiveness heap.  Actually, they ranked near the top.  Instead, e-commerce – the last sector one would think would ignore the social space – was down towards the bottom.

What do they mean when they say the US ranked near last?

The US ranked 33rd out of the 37 countries, with US brands responding to only 18% of customer questions. Compare this to the average global Question Response Rate (QRR) of 30%…Of course, some US brands are providing great customer care on Twitter. A couple of examples are T-Mobile, whose @TMobileHelp handle received nearly 11,000 questions and responded to 75% of them, and Nike’s local branches (@NikeSF, @NikeBoston, @NikeSeattle, etc.), which maintained QRRs anywhere between 76% and 84%. But many major companies, like Domino’s Pizza (@Dominos) and Walmart (@Walmart), had low QRRs on Twitter: only 13%, and 18% respectively.

The US ranked 23rd out of the 24 countries — beating only India in our rankings. US brands had a response rate of 59%, compared to the average of 74% for all brands globally. US brands on Facebook with poor customer care included Nationwide Insurance, Wendy’s, and Samsung Mobile USA with response rates of 7%, 20%, and 18% respectively. Brands on Facebook with great customer care included many telecom companies — like Sprint with a QRR of 84% , T-Mobile (87%), AT&T (68%), and Verizon Wireless (72%).

You can see if your company has been included in their rankings here.  It might be easy to blame the poor response rate on short staff but clearly when one company can handle 8,000+ questions in 90 days (meaning they answer 91 out of 122 questions every day), it’s not an impossible task.  So why isn’t every company doing that?  My guess is that it’s a matter of priorities and customer-centric thinking.  Maybe it’s also that they still see social channels as megaphones and not telephones.  What’s yours?

Leave a comment

Filed under digital media, Huh?