Tag Archives: Steven Pierce

A match made in confusion: Samsung X Heathrow T5

 

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‘Imagine’ is Samsung’s brand slogan so I ask you this, imagine one of the largest and most innovative technology companies partnering with one of the world’s busiest International airports. Surely this would be a match made in heaven, a sponsorship deal based on mutual benefit and an initiative that enhances the passenger experience. Sadly this is not the case. Samsung revealed recently that they have rebrand Heathrow’s famous Terminal 5 as ‘ The Terminal Galaxy S5’ for a two-week period. Firstly, the rebranded terminal name is terrible, an example of pure unimaginative marketing prowess. Surely  ‘The Samsung Galaxy Terminal S5’ would make more sense and have more meaning to an already bemused and flustered traveller.

Now imagine the look on the face of this same passenger when they realise that there really is no benefit to them from this tie-up apart from utter confusion, obtrusive advertisements and signs directing them to Dixons where they can try out the new phone. The problem is that this marketing idea is a daft one based around basic awareness and not engagement. One that is created by one of the most daringly innovative brands of our times, it just doesn’t add up. It is really a sponsorship sell out on behalf of Heathrow who are the only ones who will be surprised and delighted when they see the benefit to their bottom line.

It also speaks volumes about Heathrow’s brand values and their mission to ‘Make every journey better‘. If they were true to their word on this, they would have encouraged Samsung to integrate the S5 into the passenger experience. Maybe create an S5 lounge and give passengers the opportunity to transfer their boarding card onto test models after security, then use the phone for the remaining waiting time at the airport, tweeting pictures and enjoying the product. Where can they run to when they are in a secure zone and their boarding card is on the phone?

In essence, this latest marketing initiative goes against both companies brand values. However, for Samsung it hits harder. The campaign is clunky, unimaginative and basic, the antithesis of what they represent. A little more imagination could have gone a long way.

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Bowled over by Bewleys

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Bear with me on this one, it may take some mild persuasion. Of all places who would have thought that Bewleys would make me stop in my coffee sipping tracks (it was wine actually, but who’s judging).  I would presume that I-like many-hold memories of getting into your Sunday best and taking a trip to Bewleys for a treat. Well my latest evening visit was certainly just that, a ‘treat’ in the customer experience sense. Bewleys are open in the evenings until 11pm, serving wine and uncompromising food at reasonable prices. Gone is the self-service, tricky tray manoeuvring rhetoric of yore.

Back to the experience though and after a rather tempestuous start involving a trivial disagreement over wine glasses, the service mellowed somewhat. The staff were attentive, not over zealous and had personality, much like the beautiful updated environs we sat in. This is the grown up Bewleys, along the way it has matured into a stylish, chilled evening  time haunt.

After a few ticks at the upper echelons of the customer comment card we left, promising prompt return. The only negative is that I think more people don’t know about this after work gem, or maybe it’s for the best, I will selfishly have the place to myself for these much needed cathartic moments of escape.

Like a good ‘brew’, Bewley’s has had  time to infuse and settle but be assured it is now ready to enjoy.

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Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah ‘Zaconey’

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I do enjoy a funfair and a little tipple, but not usually together. Well last week I got to enjoy both with  the launch of Zaconey, a new delicious fun spirit with a bourbon twist. It was held in the wonderfully appropriate Everleigh Gardens on Harcourt Street, and from the outset it was a triumph. This was one of the most impressive and enjoyable launches I have been to.  The location really encapsulated the fun aspect promised by the theme park styled invite. A welcoming theme park attendant told us to ‘enjoy the ride’ and we  certainly did.

The branding was impressively ubiquitous and the staff really seemed interested and friendly. I must admit that I undertook an extensive taste test in order to give you a reliable review!  Various mixtures and combinations later (including a Zaconey slushy), I can attest that it is quite delicious. It’s a sweet-ish drink,  just like the candy floss mini cones, sweet potatoes and jars of sweets we were tempted  and lured into tasting.

This was certainly not the typical funfair offering of chips in a plastic box and unlike many funfairs, I actually won something. An enjoyable game of ‘hoopla’ turned out to be more fruitful than anticipated. With my Zaconey tee-shirt proudly stashed away, I reflected on the event. The lesson I learnt here is that alcohol and funfairs actually go quite well together, contrary to  horrific housewife tales of exuberant hurdy gurdy mishaps! Thankfully no mishaps at this launch, this was a slick operation. A fun-filled launch of roller-coaster proportions.

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‘Oh’ 2- Ironically bad at communication!

There are ironies in life that make for humorous memories (like when I failed my driving test and drove myself home). Then there are instances where I get so incensed with rage that my fingers start punching away at my computer in an autonomous, uncontrollable fashion.

Customer rage should be the antithesis of a company’s value proposition, yet so many fail to eschew activities and behaviours that cannot but imbue a sense of dissonance and vitriolic ramblings. Unfortunately the latest victim is O2 but the comments are generalisable to many services providers. A recent encounter by one reader of this blog has led them to vent. Long story relatively short, they were promised something, put on a waiting list, forgotten and lied to. I truly believe that there is no room for dishonesty in business. Be honest with your customers, they will respect you more and their expectations will not be dashed, thus limiting their feelings of dissonance.

Initiatives such as ‘Priority moments’  are totally superfluous if the core service is not contiguous with marketing activities. Does anyone feel they are truly a priority whilst trying to work out the mathematical maze of automated numbers needed to reach the person who may (possibly) be able to help you? It just adds fuel to a customers blazing fire of rage. Rejoice if you do get through swiftly, you are one of the chosen ones, who haven’t been subjected to a cacophony of brutally low quality, crackling music that some companies assume we appreciate. We don’t, all we want to know is how long we have to wait. Once again, be honest with  us !

Doesn’t it also seem that new customers get all the grandiose treatment ? You know, all the deals, free customer service etc. That’s the final irony and the last fragile straw for me. Was there ever a notion that companies should treat loyal customers to a purgatory of dis-service? I urge you to  ‘Be the difference’, tell these companies how unhappy you are with them, let me assure you it is not isolated to the oxygen related ‘Blue’ ones.

If it’s ‘Better Together’, then why are they trying so hard to turn us away. Demand better service at every level and let’s sing from the ‘Red’ ones hymn sheet: Power to you !

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H&Magnet shopping- The future?

On a recent seasonal séjour to London,  I observed an idea so clever and original that it stopped me in my frenzied shopping tracks. The Swedish retail megalith H&M is to thank, in fact H&M Home to be pedantically precise. Faced with a merchandising issue, limited due to floor space, they invented a new type of shopping experience. Something fun and creative, just like their brand.

It’s ‘Shopping by magnets‘, and its pretty cool.Stage 1 is ‘Browse the mini showroom‘ where you can see an assortment of the physical products. Then proceed to stage 2Grab a house shaped magnet shopping cart‘. Stage 3 ‘Find your items from the shopping ‘wall’  and Stage 4 ‘Pay and collect’. Who knew that such compartmentalized shopping could be enjoyable. Perhaps it’s just novelty, but I think it’s genius.

I wouldn’t have expected anything less though, after all the Swedes are quite the inventive folk, thank them for Skype, Spotify and of course IKEA. It seems they are born with an innate ambition do things more efficiently, whether it be through design, technology or in this case process.  Such dedication to efficiency and innovation highlights how important said strategy is for every business. It could be said that companies who fail to innovate, will fail to proceed in our global marketplace.

Coincidentally just like magnets, businesses should be inextricably attracted to innovative ideas and ensure they implement them with their customer in mind. This is the key to long-term success and the holy grail of sustained competitive advantage.

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Guinness get it right !

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend a secret launch. It was such a secret that all I knew was that it was a new Guinness product. I admit it is not a customer service story per say but a tale of a great brand and a great launch. Now I love a bit of mystery and intrigue, who doesn’t ! So I headed off to the Tivoli car park abuzz with what they were up to.

I was greeted by Mongolian Yurts, blank bottles of undisclosed alcohol and blackboards detailing tasty treats that would soon arrive. There was even a dine in the dark section, but I was much happier sipping on my mystery tipple. At this stage my curiosity was rising with every sip of said mystery drink. Even the lovely promo girls didn’t give anything away; they were dressed in simple blue tee-shirts.

Here comes the good bit. After a brief break in proceedings the product was unveiled. Cue branded bottles entering the Yurt presented by promo girls in branded tee shirts (Kudos to them for their quick change skills) Then I noticed that all the previously blank posters were now adorned with the freshly launched Guinness black lager bottle.

It really was a great launch and executed brilliantly. As the master brewer said what would Arthur Guinness have thought ? A new Guinness lager being launched in Mongolian Yurts on Frances Street, surrounded by graffitied walls in a car park. It sounds a little bit mad, just like Guinness Black Lager, but it worked as does the new lager. A bit of madness never hurt anyone I say and when it is Guinness leading the madness, it is best to just go with it and take another swig.

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I’m in love with KC Peaches..

I’m enamored. KC peaches has my heart and I’m hooked. We met a week or two ago on Nassau Street. This place has it sussed. Their visual merchandising and simple use of neutral colours make this place look rather special.

All I wanted was a humble salad, well, let me tell you that I had a veritable choice of goodness to choose from. As someone who is rather indecisive, this posed a bit of a problem, and waved goodbye to the ‘quick lunch’ I had planned.  Fifteen minutes later, I was still shoveling a bit of couscous and assorted leaves into my ‘box’.

I love how you pick a box and fill it with anything, no horrid weighing scales or sneaky extra charges. The only rule I’m guessing is that the box must be able to close and not be overflowing with spinach and rockety goodness. The staff are cool and helpful and even offered me a cheeky student discount, without me prompting. Not so cheeky considering I am a student but it was a welcome change to see a staff member take some initiative. More of that is to be encouraged.

There have been recent reports from one of my informants of burnt broccoli stowing away in said informants ‘box’, but I am not here to judge on the kitchens over zealousness cooking in relation to the tree shaped vegetable.

Take a walk down Nassau Street and you won’t miss it, they have delightful cakes in the window to lure you in. I do warn you though, If you are tight on time, indecisive or put off by choice,  you may need to plan your time to get the full effect. This place deserves time, effort and a bit of thought. Ironically similar to the ingredients of the perfect relationship !

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Up all night..in the pursuit of customer service.

Never one to be a follower of sport – in fact I swiftly recycle any sport supplement that comes my way -something changed  this weekend. I write this whilst sipping on a free latte from Insomnia. I have always been a fan of this company, I like their style and their brand has a personality that fits kinda well with me. They treat their customers pretty good and this weekend they had a special treat for their ZAPPA tag loyalty card holders. Obviously being a promiscuous loyalty card fiend, I was in on the offer too.

The deal was this, whenever Ireland scored against Croatia, you get a free coffee. Genius ! So for the first and potentially last time, I watched the match from a partially selfish ‘what’s in it for me’ perspective. How joyful I was when we scored, I could taste the milky frothiness of my Monday latte already.

On a less positive note, I find the only weakness with Insomnia can be the staff. I had a think about as to why this might be. The only theory I could suggest is that they are true ‘insomniacs’ dedicated to their job and forego sleep in order to stay true to the brand name. It works as sometimes their enthusiasm and customer service is  lack lustre and I leave feeling a little nonchalant about their staff. Luckily their coffee pulls me away from my grumpy mumblings.

Lets not dwell on picky negativity though. We must applaud companies who run such great loyalty offers, more of it is needed ! Insomnia have done what not a lot of people could do, get me mildly interested in a sporting event. Now ‘Come On You Boys In Green, I am getting quite accustomed to these free Lattes and the suspense of the matches is becoming an enjoyable pastime…Perhaps I am the one in need of some sleep.

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SKY- Do they believe in better ?

I am partial to a bit of TV, like anyone else it keeps my mind active in less ‘busy’ times . SKY is one of those companies that you think occupy a rather untouchable corporate position. I do have to give them some credit. Their product is rather good, they are innovative and normally their service is what one would expect from an international company. However I have a bone to pick.

The bone that needs picking comes from a casual observation over a couple of weeks. As you know I am a full time lurker and professional observer. SKY has a sort of ‘selling station‘ in Stephen’s Green shopping centre. Now normally you would expect to see the staff handing out deals, engaging with customers and generally ‘selling’. This isn’t the case in said location. I am baffled as to what the staff are there for.

Each time I am lurking, they seem to be catching up with the sport, having a chat with other staff and looking a bit bemused by inquisitive customers who approach them. Is this the best job in the world ? They obviously don’t have sales targets to meet or maybe they are the outpost that SKY has forgotten about.

The pressing point is that this  important touch point that the customer encounters is letting the brand down. All the marketing efforts by SKY are futile if the customer doesn’t get the service on the front line. So the note of caution here is that at each point the customer engages with the brand, it should be a memorable experience, and not for the wrong reasons.

This highlights the importance of the ‘value chain’ theory and how a glitch in a companies processes can cause serious problems. Perhaps it’s time for SKY to believe in better service ?

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Exceptional Emirates

Apart from my passion for customer service, my other love lies in the skies, in particular airlines. Back in January I decided to take a trip to China with Emirates to test their new Dublin to Dubai route and onward to Hong Kong. I was spurred into the decision by very favourable launch offers and the thought of spending half a day flying half way around the world (nerdy I know)

Emirates day arrived and I presented myself at the airport for the beginning of my trip. Despite the route being only a week old, the flight was pretty full (thanks to Emirates marvelous marketing skills) I was approached by a member of staff who asked me would I mind being re-routed. Now this for many would be a hellish idea, but for an aviation enthusiast/nut like myself it meant another flight, another airport and a bit of an adventure.

It was how they dealt with the disruption though that they makes this post blogable. I was treated to a free breakfast voucher whilst they got my affairs in order, a duty free voucher and a free ticket back to Hong Kong whenever I chose. There is a lot of free in the last sentence, just how I like it !  This was brilliant customer service.The best bit though was that I was upgraded to Business class from Birmingham to Dubai, with full use of their lounge and all the related amenities. It is this kind of amazing care towards their passengers that ensures they are always voted amongst the top airlines of the world.

So off I headed to Dubai, treated like a king with the promise of a return to Hong Kong and all the Veuve  Clicquot I could have ever wanted. I arrived mildly tipsy and tremendously impressed despite my re-routing.

P.S. Look at their impressive takeover of the Metro herald from yesterday, they know how to do things properly and are so consistent with their message even on a global scale;

Fly Emirates, Hello Tomorrow

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