Tag Archives: customer service

Great customer service … with honour!

I posted the other day about Manchester United and their proposition and positioning.

It reminded me of a stunning, and quite original, positioning that I came across almost by accident.

Those of you who know me will know certain things about me;

  • I love concrete and all things modernist and brutalist in architecture
  • I firmly believe that Roadhouse is the finest film ever made (with lessons for life in every scene)
  • I only really listen to Jazz
  • One of my favourite brands is Wilkinson’s
  • One of my favourite logotypes is Norfolk Line – lovely combination of type colour and design
  • … and I drive up and down the A14 most weekends to get home

All of which you are likely to know .. but the last 3 in that list have a connection … lorries, and in particular advertising on lorries.

I posted about this some time ago, I may be becoming a lorry geek!

By now reader, you are wondering what on earth this post is going to be about … well lorries… and a proposition …and a surprise;

Allow me please to introduce Knights of Old .. in fact the Knights of Old Group.

If you drive around the Midlands in the UK you will know their haulage. It states boldly on every lorry “SERVICE WITH HONOUR” I really like that, its bold, it’s certainly original and I don’t know much about haulage and logistics, but I bet it’s a USP !


Check out the values on their website … here

This is a roll call of ambition, style, and growth. Mission statements may be a little old hat these days, much derided thanks to too much pomp and ceremony from Management Consultancies in the 90s (just my opinion you understand), but in this instance it absolutely backs up the vision and it must by its nature and presence unite a workforce that is by its nature dispersed geographically.

The typeface is also crucial in lending credence to such a nice line and vision. Can you use an old-fashioned word like ‘honour’ with a modern san serif typeface? I don’t believe you can, at least not for this brand.

And the surprise?  Well it is their website, a quite lovely piece of story telling across the piece. The rolling banner points you at three different stories and, my, how well they present them, especially the photography.

Can you make logistics sexy? You bet you can, especially with as clever a use of brand association as I have seen for a very long time, John Lewis, Carluccio’s anyone? … lovely!

Check it out here

But maybe I should not be so surprised at the quality of their advertising and marketing … look how they promote the cycling team they sponsor – very nice!


One final point to make as well. Added to my list at the top of this post you could have added I love brand heritage stories .. some brands lend themselves to it … Co-operative please note … why do you not embrace yours? … and this is one such brand. The history is well presented, not over done and it contextualises the whole vision. Very nice indeed

Read it for yourself here, its worth a few moments of your time I believe.

The story telling explains the origin of the company name and the use of the “Knight” and “Old”. The company was founded in the village of Old (near Kettering) by William Knight. It’s interesting to ponder how different their brand proposition might have been expressed if the two names had not worked quite so well together.

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly offbeat post, I find it really refreshing that a brand in such a non glamorous industry can make such a bold creative play but I guess you would expect that from a brand with such confidence to paint its proposition on every Lorry!

You will also be pleased to know you can buy toy lorries ‘a la’ Eddie Stobart too … I may seek one out, one on my desk would remind me that delivery of great service is important whatever industry you are in … and if you can do it with honour, even better.



01 May 2014

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A tale of three tweets


I’m very fortunate to have been asked, a fair few times, to speak to other marketers about how to make social media work for brands … tough in my case as financial services can be a) a tad dull if I’m honest and b) generate strong views.  

My first piece of sage advice is always to listen to what your members or customers are saying and then, and only then, chose to respond or not. My explicit advice is to do so knowingly.  It takes less than a second to retweet and each ‘Twitterer’ has an average of 208 followers. You can do the impact mathematics quite easily ! 

I will lay my cards clearly on the table – I love twitter personally, but intellectually I know it is a danger zone for brands – just ask Waitrose or Ryanair about those impact stats – I know it from personal experience now as well ( that’s a cue to read on by the way…)

This post is about three tweets, that’s all, just three little tweets.  Approximately 500 million tweets are sent each day and the record appears to stand at 143,199 per second (2013 stats – source twitter)  

So this is a tiny fraction of the traffic – but all affected me personally so they are very important – well to me at least and I hope they prove interesting to you.

They all relate to customer service, and I could easily have called this post “The good the bad and the ugly'” by the way … Just to set expectations !

But let’s step backwards first: I have found myself defaulting to using twitter for customer service matters. The simple reason – brands are listening and they understand the impact mathematics all too well … (They must have been listening to me !). I bet you do the same – leave me a comment or two and give me your views if you have a moment to spare.

The Ugly
A well known supermarket messed up a pre-Christmas online food order of a, top drawer slap up dinner, delivery for my stepson who was unable to be with us on the day and so would be alone. Clearly to my Partner and I this was hugely important. They messed up the delivery time and then would not deliver until after Christmas. I won’t go into the details but needless to say the phone experience was not great at all and despite them clearly being in the wrong they did not resolve the matter to our satisfaction – despite their paying us compensation. So we tweeted our disappointment. 

The retailer did all the right things initially via twitter – took us off line into direct messages … but crucially did not do anything of substance including not following up what they said they would do. 

The outcome – we have told all of our friends and stopped using that retailer – ok, that is unlikely to hurt their profits in isolation … But it will not help if they keep doing it ! 

The Bad
Actually this started out as a good ! But tailed off badly !  I have moved house and dutifully told my energy provider. First of all I told them their website was not working as I was unable to register and so I could not give my meter readings over the Web.  I tried the app – same issue. I used the email form on line and I was promised a reply in two days … not great … but crucially I have still had no email reply other than that auto message in mid November 2013 ! That is just plain poor.

So I rang up and gave the reading. Then I managed to get the web working and repeated the task as requested by the phone handler. 

Then I got a bill and a nasty reminder threatening credit reference action – I was well in credit and on the phone they had told me to cancel my direct debit. I called again, 4 times, my last call took 50 minutes to get through and I was quickly put on hold – and finally they cut me off. My irritation led me to tweet. 

Great response initially, as before I was taken off line and handled very well by a named representative. Friendly and apologetic. I was impressed. However – I am no longer ! The first tweet was 29 November 2013 – I still await my refund 2 months later !

The result – I have told all my friends again  and will never use that energy supplier again. I am in regular contact with the tweet handler … daily in fact!

The Good
This was easily the slickest and best experience … probably in no small part by being the most human and friendly.  GREATER ANGLIA TRAINS please take a bow ! 

It started with a bit of a moan by me – on the early train from Diss to London and no coffee car … but what happened next was delightful – I was taken off line again and what a difference – I actually had a conversation with a human using no more than 140 characters. Clearly all they could do was apologise, but they checked my train time and service and got back to me with why … and another apology. They were now following me of course, so when I tweeted that evening what a nice journey I was having on the way home – including a free coffee in first class – you can imagine my surprise when they entered into a very good natured chat with me. No selling, no serious stuff, but the tweeter clearly had read my earlier messages. It was another conversation and an enjoyable one at that.

So what have I done? you guessed it  … told all my friends ! 

There is a few simple lessons to learn here for me :

– Twitter like most social media should be a conversation – being nice is a much under rated trait in my view and it generates a great word of mouth result. Check out my favourite film Roadhouse for inspiration !
– if you are going to respond to service issues – listen and then take the customer off line to reduce that impact math equation
– but just like any other channel you must do what you say you are going to do – it’s all lost if you don’t ! 

Simple lessons to remember, personally I see twitter as a way finding tool primarily in business, but as people use it more and more for complaints then these simple givens will become more important than ever.  Just ask me when I’m not in the office !!

24 January 2014

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Online customer reviews in 35mm perspective


I went to see a brilliant musical show in London on Friday night at the Pleasance in Islington.  Its called 35mm and I really enjoyed it.  More of the show later, but I learned an unexpected lesson from two of the stars of the show – Niall and Rosie – I learned the true impact of a review and I got, first hand, a good insight into how a singer thinks about customer service.

Reviews are a phenomena that has really grown in the last few years, and it is an activity that shows no sign of diminishing in volume or impact.  Only the other day I was reminded by Amazon that I had not yet reviewed a Jazz album I had recently purchased …Amazon are just one retailer that recognises the importance of these reviews.  Think about your research when booking hotels … I imagine, like me, you check out the reviews first !

Lets look at some stats:

  • The marketing research website Emarketer reports that in the US 3 out of 4 people (Sept 2012) buying an electronics product read reviews as a key part of their research prior to decision making.  There is some interesting divergence of views when it comes to professional reviews … more of that later …  but that is a massive percentage.
  • Why should Amazon encourage me to place reviews … well there is plenty of evidence that this increases uptake.  In September 2011 Bazaarvoice were reporting that order values of people who have read reviews of their intended purchase have a 6% higher average order value (Sept 2011) and at the same time customer satisfaction is reported to be higher with the purchase – plus 11% according to eMarketer.
  • The killer stat for me though is that the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey shows a positive shift in the trust and appreciation of on ine reviews … 72% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So it seems fairly clear .. If you read a good review, you are more likely to visit or buy, and you will be likely to get a higher level of satisfaction.

To the show then… I loved it, it was unusual in construct and it featured some great songs and some excellent performances from two of its young stars, Niall Rooney and Rosie Ward.  It has been a success off Broadway and Ryan Scott Oliver who wrote the musical has set his songs and music to a series of 15 Photographs.  I really enjoyed the show it balances some tender songs – especially Seraph – with some amusing and fun songs and some really emotional ‘belters’.  All backed up by a seriously funky band (which reminded me of George Clinton at the end and which I am now streaming as I write).

The conversation with Rosie and Niall after the show though was very insightful.  They were both concerned primarily about customer service  “..did you enjoy the show?” this is clearly one thing that drives them as performers; ensuring that their paying audience have enjoyed the show and had a great night.  That focus is brilliant, it must be very exposing to perform so close to your customers … you really can see the whites of their eyes from the stage I imagine.

The second thing that concerns them is their reviews.  This is both personal and practical.  The personal desire of all of us to satisfy our ego, to be reassured we are good at what we do, but they very directly recognise the impact of critical reviews of their work on ticket sales and the length of the run they will have in the theatre.  Its an independent affirmation of their talent and in the success of the production.

They both had a real focus on it, they are self critical anyway (neither need worry in my opinion) but the direct nature of what they do and the history and tradition of theatre reviews give them a focus that as a Marketer I find really interesting.

Retailers like Amazon clearly understand, but I’d argue that the producers of the service or product, should perhaps start thinking about how their review scores are built into 21st Century KPIs and marketing dashboards, that may be a bit radical … but the stats I referenced earlier seem to support a need to consider how they are used to better positive effect by Marketers.  Theatre critics are professionals and the research by eMarketer suggests they carry less weight than consumer reviews (not in theatre reviews I suspect however) and I think if Marketers can find a way of exploiting this consumer trend better it could give their brands a powerful low cost credible boost.

Go see the show if you are in London, I hope you will enjoy it as much as my friends and I did.


3 February 2013

Useful links:

Theatre Link – the Pleasance, Islington

Niall Rooney

Rosie Ward

Emarketer website

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