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Quote of the day

I pinched this from The Independent newspaper.

The bonus system has proved to be wrong. Substantial cash bonuses do not reward the right kind of behaviour.

Andy Hornby, former CEO, HBOS.

You don’t say! Doubtless such profound insight is worth all the money he trousered then? We’ve been working on something which proves Mr Hornby, and others to be right on the mark. Shame it took such upheaval to get this issue front of brain. Come back tomorrow and we’ll share our first thoughts with you.

We Do What We Say We Will

Would you arrange to meet friends at a restaurant and then not bother to show up?
Would you book a hotel room and then not bother to check in?
Would you agree to help a friend and then do nothing?

Absolutely not! I can hear the indignation in your reply. Me? Behave like that? No way, it’s just not cricket/acceptable/the right thing to do (choose your favourite outburst ending). Quite apart from anything else, if we were to behave like this then a) we’d soon have no friends and b) we’d be out of pocket to boot. Unless it was a real emergency, (in which case we would make every effort to at least inform our friends), we just wouldn’t do it.

That’s settled then. Oh, but hang on, wait a minute…

Would you accept an invite to a meeting or call and then not bother to show up?
Would you book a meeting room and then not bother to use it?
Would you take an action in a meeting and then not bother to follow it up?

Errrmm. Well….you see I had every intention of doing the right thing but….something more important came up. My boss gave me something urgent. And anyway, it’s not like it’s just me….is it? Well regrettably no, it’s not just you. We all know how difficult it can be to do something as simple as book a room for a meeting. There are never any rooms available. And yet, on the day, you can usually find space that’s been booked and just not used. If I were the booking system I’d feel very unloved. Trouble is you can’t plan your work around maybes. When we behave like this in big businesses what are the direct consequences…? I hear tumbleweed rolling by. So are we saying that if there are no consequences around failure to act that we just don’t feel the need? I think so – and yet there’s more to this.

If we look at my friend Ursula’s excellent definition of a customer we can see that the right behaviour is essential in developing a thriving business. Take it away, Ursula:

“The Dictionary definition is really boring! So I looked up the etymology for you and here it is… I love the etymology of words! (Incidentally, the etymology of etymology comes from “logo” – the Greek for “word” and “etymon” meaning “truth”! Ha!)

The word derives from “custom,” meaning “habit”; a customer was someone who frequented a particular shop, who made it a habit to purchase goods of the sort the shop sold there rather than elsewhere, and with whom the shopkeeper had to maintain a relationship to keep his or her “custom,” meaning expected purchases in the future. The word did not refer to those who purchased things at a fair or bazaar, or from a street vendor

So it’s all about maintaining a relationship rather than just selling something and bu66ering off!”

Aha, maintaining relationships – thanks Ursula!

It’s weird eh? I think most of us get the concept of reciprocity, the old saying of what goes around…and yet this kind of short term selfishness is not uncommon in my experience. Thinking back to the examples at the start of this short tale, I’m left wondering why people so rarely let friends down, and yet the same can’t always be said for colleagues.

Can you imagine what we could achieve if we kept our hearts and minds with us at work instead of checking them in at security as we enter the workplace?

Economic Intelligence for 8 Year Olds

I was recently told that writers for The Economist have to use a writing style, and words that can be understood by someone aged 8. Fantastic! I don’t care if it’s true or not, I’ve taken out a subscription in an attempt to have the world of high finance demystified. Communication is an art, an integral ingredient to a positive customer experience. Listen. Repeat. Create a common understanding.

This concept reminded me of an extract from “White Riot”, the first single by The Clash, who I just happen to think are the best band ever to stalk this earth. “All the power in the hands of the people rich enough to buy it. While we walk the streets, too chicken to even try it.”

Two minutes of blistering pure punk fury expressing itself with a clarity that few have matched since its release in early 1977. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m an Englishman. The song is written by an English man about England. Were we really too chicken, or did we just not understand? What might a foreign correspondent think? Shall we ask The Economist?

“When a Briton says, ‘I hear what you say’, the foreign listener may understand: he accepts my point of view. In fact, the British speaker means: ‘I disagree and I do not wish to discuss it any further’. Similarly the phrase ‘with the greatest respect’ when used by an Englishman is recognisable to a compatriot as an icy put-down, correctly translated as meaning ‘I think you are wrong, or a fool’.

When a Briton says ‘by the way’ or ‘incidentally’, he is usually understood by foreigners as meaning ‘this is not very important’, whereas in fact he means, ‘the primary purpose of our discussion is…’ On the other hand, the phrase ‘I’ll bear that in mind’ means ‘I’ll do nothing about it’; while, ‘Correct me if I’m wrong’ means ‘I’m right, please don’t contradict me’.”

Is creative, flowery prose the way forward? How about stiff, stuffy formality? Or perhaps we should have left it to four angry Englishmen from West London? Whichever, in order to create that positive customer experience, we need to get it right.

Listen. Repeat. Create a common understanding.

What do you think?