A question of value

This post was prompted by my desire to practice open inclusive working and an interesting discussion on Cliqmunities and the pricing of events over at David Goddin’s place.

We ran this year’s Stop Doing Dumb Things event and charged our guests £119 +VAT. That price was a ‘think of a number’, intuitive guess in the dark, so we now have a conundrum that you may be able to help us with, please.

The event generated revenue of about £6,000 and produced a surplus of about £1,600, though we didn’t pay any people for organising it. Bearing in mind the financial risk, we think that is OK for such an event (first time around). And we’d like to do a bit better next time and make it a better event too (e.g. provide a sound system, etc), and keep challenging the established market place (well you’d expect nothing less eh?!).

So here’s a question: “What do you think you/other people/companies would think is really good value that they could decide and sign up to without major hassle of getting board approval etc?” Should value be based on the learning people gain, comparison with other conferences/events, the good feelings people seem to have enjoyed together? We’re tempted to write down some numbers and get your reaction, but on balance, we’d rather just ask for your responses please – and please do include a suggested number or two. It’ll help us focus our thinking for 2012.

Thanks your very much for your consideration. If you feel you’d rather not say, that’s fine too, and please remember next year that we did ask and some will have replied!


The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Good The Bad The Ugly - You Decide Which is Which!
The Good The Bad The Ugly – You Decide Which is Which!

Wow! I had a weird fifteen minute burst of three very different customer experiences today.

The Ugly

I was contacted by International Business Development Group. They are running a business event on engagement in November and wondered if I would like to attend? It quickly became clear that there would be costs associated with this and though I kept asking for more information about these “associated costs”, all I got in response was more sales pitch on why this thing was such a must attend event. The pitch rapidly got harder and harder and the crux of the matter, yup, those “associated costs” seemed to get further and further away. After my umpteenth interjection I was told that I could attend this event for an investment of only £14,500. Game over – but even then I couldn’t stop the sales pitch. In the end I had to get quite direct and hung up, after letting the person know that’s what I was about to do. Hard Selling – Ugly.

The Bad

Within seconds the phone rang again. This time it was British Gas, they had some information for me. The information was about reduced gas prices. I’ve been contacted many times by British Gas and each time I politely ask them to mark my records – no phone contact. The lady from British Gas was polite enough but I know where to go to find out about gas prices thanks very much. If I want you – I’ll call you. Poor Record Keeping – Bad.

The Good

After the two phone calls I needed to take my frustration out on something. So I did a quick blast of vacuuming with my Dyson DC23 Animal. It’s a beast of a machine and sucks up pretty much everything in its path – yeah! Two minutes in the turbine head gave out with a satisfying mechanical BANG! I phoned Dyson and within a minute I was speaking with the customer service team – they’ve ordered me a new turbine head and it will be with me in around five days, free of charge. Listening, Understanding, Responding – Good.

I dread to think what passes for sales training at IBDG. I wish British Gas would take notice of my request. I love the customer service experience delivered by Dyson.

Customer Satisfaction and Engagement. Learn From the Locals

I’ve compiled the January 2010 UK Institute of Customer Service (ICS) figures into a table ranked by score (rounded to whole numbers) irrespective of sector. Local services make up four of this top ten. John Lewis/Waitrose take two more of the places, and Marks & Spencer/Marks & Spencer Food take two more. Toby Carvery and Virgin Holidays complete the top ten.

We can clearly see local businesses emerging with good results. I think this is because small local businesses worry less about things like vague customer satisfaction figures, and more about personal, connected service. Too often big brands risk losing that sense of connectedness as they strive to hit a spurious measure. Deliver service purposefully, and the scores will come. Very encouraging.

If you want to see where your company ranks, the full table can be downloaded here. By measuring scores irrespective of sector, some interesting results emerge. For example, despite all the industrial unrest and inconvenience caused by that, British Airways scrapes into the top 25.

It would be interesting to overlay employee engagement scores onto this table. I expect that the local businesses would disappear from sight. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that they don’t need to measure employee engagement, it’s literally staring them in the face. I’m not convinced that most big businesses need to measure it either; they just do it because everyone else does. And in so doing, most businesses risk chasing an improving employee engagement measure, instead of actually engaging. As you can see from the chart above, there appears to be a connection. If anyone has any further research on this that they’re willing to share feel free to post it here.

The July ICS figures are just out and it’s slightly disappointing to see they make fewer results available. I’ll carry out a similar comparison of these figures and publish them soon. Meantime if you have any stories of local v global, better or worse, feel free to share them with us.