Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 2) Stand up and be funny

I’m going to tell you a story… no, I’m going to start with a confession – I don’t go to that many comedy shows so what I’m going to say is based almost entirely on the few shows I saw at the Fringe. But, as we consultants say, two data points make a trend and anything more than that is cast-iron proof. Oh, and I’m also going to attempt some humour… what’s that? People heading for the door? And I’ve only just started…

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Service Smackdown 6: Casual dining, casual service?

It’s an occupational hazard of this line of work that I feel obliged to fill in online feedback forms whenever the opportunity is presented. Recently I’ve been invited to do so by two outlets operated by Tragus Group – whose website proclaims they are one of the UK’s largest casual dining groups and their brands include high street favourites Strada, Bella Italia and Café Rouge. As they use the same survey engine it seems a good opportunity to promote a Service Smackdown bout between two evenly-matched  opponents: in the red corner, armed with several bottles of lethal brew, the Belgian Bruiser that is Belgo; in the blue corner, with an audience of adoring fans across the country, I give you Strada! Seconds out…

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Branch banking? Let’s get personal!

I’ve been working in financial services on and off over a period of more than 20 years and the debate over how many branches a bank needs has been going on for at least that long. So it was good to see the Financial Services Club keeping the debate going this week. Despite money becoming increasingly virtual and the growth of online banking I think the industry has a long way to go before we see a significant change in the number and style of bank branches. Banks that invest in their people as well as new technology will maintain both a distribution network and the valuable customer relationships that go with it.

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Service Smackdown 5: Apple and the road to power

This is not so much a straight fight but more a series of skirmishes along the road to power – the power in this case being the power supply enabling my wife’s new iPhone to function effectively.  It’s a story of persistence in the face of supply chain problems and one customer service rep’s action turning a mediocre and frustrating experience into superior service…

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Waitrose hashtag fail: too clever by half?

My social media credibility – recently boosted by having a tweet ‘favorited’ by a jazz pianist admired by my 16 year old – has taken a bit of a dive as I was unaware of Waitrose’s recent Twitter campaign – #WaitroseReasons – asking people to complete the sentence “I shop at Waitrose because….”. Initial reaction in the press and on Twitter suggested that this was serious hashtag fail. I personally think it’s a brilliant piece of marketing.

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Service Smackdown 4: Man vs IKEA

During a period known in these parts as ‘between contracts’ I have been doing a fair bit of home improvement and, inevitably, this has involved a trip to the temple of home-furnishing-and-lifestyle that is IKEA. Time then to put myself into the ring to take on the Swedish behemoth in possibly the most one-sided bout in the Smackdown series. But first a bit of history…

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Service Smackdown 3: Olympic Special Part 1 – London 2012 vs the World

A colleague once passed on the received wisdom that when a business starts to use sporting metaphors it’s a sure sign that it’s in trouble. Be that as it may, this post offers some lessons from the London 2012 Olympics for delivering superior service and a terrific customer experience. This means changing the rules for the Service Smackdown – which, since I made them up and they are basically unfair, I’m at liberty to do – as I’m not able to compare London 2012 with anything even vaguely similar – the scale and uniqueness of the undertaking makes that impossible. Consider this to be more of an exhibition bout then since, on the basis of my direct experiences so far it’s at least podiumed* on customer service.

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Can supermarkets deliver? Ocado vs Waitrose – Service Smackdown

This is the first – in a series of completely unfair, no-holds-barred customer service evaluations of two similar providers based on recent experiences. First into the ring, Ocado, the pioneer online supermarket synonymous with Waitrose’s high-end brands. And leaping over the ropes, here comes – uh – Waitrose, the high-end online supermarket. Confused? This post won’t help – but might illustrate how to get some basics right in this highly competitive area. Seconds out, round one. Continue reading “Can supermarkets deliver? Ocado vs Waitrose – Service Smackdown”