Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in January, 2013

Customer Disservice

By on Jan 30, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Why do companies with big brands and tremendous momentum go out of business? One reason often discussed here is lack of innovation, which is often opaque, quite difficult to grasp when it is happening because you are in the midst of it, even enjoying a final gasp of success. Another is much easier to understand and very definitely within control—when you stop loving your customers. Here is a summary of a recent actual customer service call with a well-known company in which I was the very real customer. ME: But the replacement knob you sent me does not fit the appliance. CUSTOMER SERVICE: It’s the one you ordered. ME: No, not exactly, I called and gave you the model number of the appliance and told you which knob was broken, and this is the one you sent me. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Well, it should fit. Did you push hard on it? ME: It does not fit, so pushing harder will only break it. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Maybe you don’t know how to install it. Would you like us to send out a technician? I need to advise you we bill on site service visits at a minimum $95 per hour. ME: I don’t need a technician. It’s a $4.75 plastic replacement knob to turn the appliance on and off. It does not fit on the metal stem. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sir, if you don’t want me to schedule a technician to come to your home, there is nothing more I can do. ME: Yes, you could send me the proper replacement part. I actually looked up the appliance online and have the serial number for the part I need. It differs from the one you sent me by two digits. CUSTOMER SERVICE: That’s not possible, they are all the same. If you are not able to install the one we sent, how do you expect to install another one? ME: I’ll take my chances that the right part will fit. Can I send this one back and get a replacement please? CUSTOMER SERVICE: We don’t refund parts you ordered incorrectly that become open stock. You can order another one if you want, but you’re still going to need a technician to install...

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Too Busy To Save Your Company

By on Jan 14, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

One of my final posts of 2012 memorialized the brands we lost last year, and inspired the question, how do so many companies so often and so badly miss the boat? It’s even more perplexing when they know where it’s docked, what time it leaves, and who the captain of that departing ship is. Seems they are just too busy to make their way to the boarding gate. Yep, you could have found your way out, met the challenge of Creative Destruction, and banked the opportunity by reallocating resources from historic enterprises to future growth, but you didn’t. How does that keep happening? In a recent Wall Street Journal profile, longtime media executive Strauss Zelnick, who has worked his way through several platform shifts, summarized it perfectly: One of the problems with some of the diversified media conglomerates is you get the benefit of the cash flow of legacy assets and the burden of owning legacy assets. You own a motion-picture company and you should be thinking about what digital technology will do to your business. But when you wake up in the morning you’ve got to be on the phone with the folks in your studio, talking about a $200 million picture that’s going to cost $300 million and the star who’s not showing up at work and the marketing plan that’s going to cost you $100 million world-wide. When someone says to you, “I think you should meet with this guy, he’s 26 years old, he graduated from MIT, he’s in Brooklyn doing a really interesting social media startup,” you say, “It does sound interesting but I’m too busy to do that.” That happens a lot, way too often. People are so busy in their jobs, ensconced in the past, they have no time to breathe the future. Then the future becomes the present, and it’s too late. Busy, busy, busy. But is busy the same as productive? Not quite. Sometimes, not at all. Companies intend to keep you busy. If you aren’t busy, or if you at least don’t look busy, you’re probably at risk. But do you add real value, especially in light of constant change? How we prioritize our time says a great deal about what we...

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