Why stores will win

So you can choose to shop in a store, online or on the phone

On my last blog I said that the service that I got from the 3 telesales team was rubbish, they sent me all over the place to get what I needed…yuk.

So on Saturday I needed to sort out a new dongle (mobile broadband) and I hit the High St, vowing not to go into the 3 store. As a guy I kinda enjoyed doing all the techie shops and ended up thinking that I’m going to have to go into 3, I know they have the largest 3G network, and they’re probably going to be cheaper.

I went in, the guy serving really knew his stuff, he listened to me, asked good questions, gave me the solution I wanted, and I so bought it.

So retail can work, it needs to be a good experience, but the reason why stores will win in the end is the human contact. We are social, tactile, community loving PEOPLE and we love it when others make us feel valued. In a way no computer or phone can do it.

Get it right, and stores have a really good long term future.

and the award for worst customer service ever goes to….

I’m about to move over to an iphone and so need to extract myself from “3”. I’ve been pretty happy with them up till tonight. I sent them an email, and they called me straight back, pretty good I thought, until they put me on hold, for 30 mins!

remember they called me!

Then I got transferred twice, having to give all my details again & again.

The guy at the end of the line obviously had a tick sheet of questions to go through, and boy was it painful. Even when I asked, politely, not to waste any more of my time, he plowed on. Needless to say it wasn’t UK call centre so the line was bad, ( ironic for a phone company) and his accent made conversation difficult.

So I’m leaving 3, not as a satisfied customer ,but a disgruntled one.

And after 18 months of good service, they ruin it in just 38 minutes.

I learnt from this

1. How easy it is to ruin your reputation.
2. How fickle I am.
3. How high our service expectations are.

Tough ol’ world…

Confidence and leadership

I have a confession, I support Carlisle Utd football team. I started going to watch them soon after I moved to Carlisle 7 years ago, and caught the “live sport” bug. Over the last few years they’ve being steadily improving, refinancing the club, bringing in new players etc, and they’ve done pretty well, moving up a couple of divisions, nearly making it into the championship.

But all of a sudden they’re performance have fallen away dramatically, they’ve lost 10 put of the past 11 eleven matches, and are playing really poor football.

Why is this? The bulk of the team are still the same players, against opposition they have beaten. I think the answer is confidence and leadership, or should that be the other way around.

The team have lost all self confidence, unable to play to their potential. They aren’t playing together. How much is leadership a part of this?

I’m starting to read Seth Godin’s Tribes which talks about movements being led not managed, rallying around a cause rather clocking into work. Powerful stuff.

I thinking about how this affects my life, I’m going to send Greg Abbott, the new Carlisle Utd manager a copy, he needs to hear this!

This is getting scary

This global banking crisis sounds like something you’d read in a Grisham or Clancy novel. In these stories there is normally some hidden fiendish plot run by some bad guys that are behind all the troubles. So the prime minister/president will send in the SAS or whoever, kill the bad guys and the world returns to normal.

But what is happening today is not a story, it is real, and was caused by each of us by choosing to spend when we want, on what we want, no matter what the cost. It’s no good just blaming the bank bosses, becuase I’m sure if we were in their positions we’d have gambled in the same way.

So what do we do, change our lifestyles and pray for forgiveness.

London at midnight

    Last Wednesday I was standing in Piccadily Circus at midnight with hoards of people around me. The bars/coffee shops & restaurants were all open and buzzing. The pavements were full of people moving with purpose….

    Now I live in Cumbria where you struggle to find a restaurant open after 8pm.

    So I began reflecting on how different the world of London is to Carlisle.

    So here’s what I love about Cumbria…..

    1. No background noise of M25, A3, A406, A1 etc etc
    2. Walking around without an aeroplane droning overhead
    3. The views from my village of the back of Skiddaw, or Criffel in Scotland
    4. The gentler pace of life
    5. The way Cumbrians laugh at anything that happens further south than Kendal
    6. Carlisle Utd… the only team to support within 50 miles
    7. Farms
    8. The fact that Cumbrians don’t care what happens in London
    9. Being in the Fells in 20 mins
    10. Jennings Brewery

    Here’s what I love about London

    1. Vibrancy
    2. Progressive culture
    3. The vast number of people
    4. Resources
    5. Life after 8pm
    6. Friends
    7. Church
    8. The culture of optimism
    9. Money/Influence
    10. Foyles Bookshop

    So where would I really like to live…..

    Tues/Wed/Thurs – London
    Fri – Mon – Cumbria

    One day!

    B&B rant

    so why can’t us Brits run B&B’s ( bed & breakfasts) properly

    Yep sorry but this is a rant…..

    I stayed in a B&B last night in Bath, great city but what a rubbish B&B. The website made the place look great, but talk about over promise and under deliver! The room was tiny, the shower nonexistent, the walls paper-thin, the owner preferred not to take credit cards… the list of disappointments goes on and on.

    I stay in a lot of hotels with work, not expensive ones, the regular budget chains, so not luxurious, but consistant, clean and good for business travellers. So when I had to go to Bath on a last minute visit, I couldn’t get into one of these hotels, so I booked for the same sort of price, a B&B. It was like going back 20 years, I half expected Basil Fawlty to walk out…( OK that was a hotel but you can see where I’m going).

    So why can’t we do excellence as standard. When I travel to the US, they have a completely different view. Their start point is excellence as standard (which more often than not they are) rather than making you feel like you’ve an unwanted interruption .

    Sorry rant over…am home now. with family who do make me feel wanted.

    Good faith experience 2 – The Gods aren’t angry

    My 2nd good faith experience last week was watching a DVD from the creator of the Nooma DVDs Rob Bell. It was called The Gods aren’t angry. It’s 90 minute sermon/monologue about humanity discovering that they instinctively live their lives in tune with the rhythm of nature, the sun, the moon, the seasons, and they soon deify these outside influences. When these influences don’t deliver their promises, the rain doesn’t come, the hoped for pregancy doesn’t arrive, then humanity looks for a way of appeasing their particular God. This often ends up by offering a sacrifice to get your God to do the things that you want him or her to do. This practice has led to some of the world’s worst atrocities.

    Rob Bell then talks through the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, in which the meaning of Yahweh saying to Abraham, stop, do not sacrifice your son, has profound implications for those of us who profess to have faith. It means that this God doesn;t operate in the same way as the Gods we’ve created. Bell goes on to talk about the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and teh eway that reshapes our faith and reframes our lives.

    Then it typically Bell fashion he relates that to how we should live out our faith with honesty, passion and committment.

    I’ll be honest , I watched this on a train home from London, and cried. It took me back to the first time in made a Christian step of faith.

    I made me realise why I do what I do…thank you God

    a good faith experience

    When I moved to Cumbria nearly 7 years, I sort of knew that finding a church that I could find a home in would be challenging…and boy was I right! I spent a few years between 2 charismatic churches, that I thought were shallow and middle class social clubs , OK, the problem is more likely to be me and my attitude rather than these churches. So by a completely unplanned route I found myself at Carlisle Cathedral, which gives me the sanctuary that I’m looking for.

    Also with my job with this lot, I get involved with all expressions of church, the weird, the wonderful and the wacky! This can make me pretty cynical about modern church life, but 2 experiences last week really renewed my faith in today’s church.

    Firstly I went to a preview to the latest DVD release from Hillsong London called Hail to the King. Now it’s really easy to get very cynical about folk like this, they are very slick, spend lots of dosh on expensive marketing, and their teaching is often challenged by the traditional church. I sat through the preview and was impressed by the production quality and the music, and had a good evening. They gave us a goodie bag with some of the church literature in it which I read on the tube and in my hotel that night. What really amazed me are the values these guys have, the work they are doing, and their heart for the poor.

    They connect with thousands of people each Sunday, have established hubs around London. They articulate clearly that, yes, they spend money on slick advertising, but this is the one way that a highly visual, contemporary society will listen, and seeing the response they get, I’m gonna say….keep it up guys, you are really walking the talk!

    They are capital city church, and feel like it, they connect with a vibrant buzzingcentral London!

    My second experience I’ll leave for my next post.

    back again

    I seem to be posting annually! Not good for a blog, so one of my committments whilst on holiday it to really engage with blogging. I started journalling this summer, which is a truly releasing experience, however most of what I wrote is very personal, and isn’t the sort of material that should or will ever be posted online. So I’m going to concentrate on faith, culture, retail and dip into my hobbies of bass playing, books, medieval history, coffee and cathedrals as I choose.

    Understanding that writing helps clarify my thinking, this will be good for me.

    back to the cathedral soon….

    I’ve had a great break this summer, a wonderful week in Tuscany with friends, my brother got married this weekend, and back to work tomorrow, which I’m kind of looking forward to.

    I read a number of great books on holiday, an advance proof of Everything must change by Brian Mclaren. An amazing read of how the kingdom of God should impact our world, and Banker to the Poor by Mohamed Yunus, the story of the Grameen Bank, whose micro banking is changing the lives of millions of the poorest people in the world. Something I find myself getting more and more drawn to.

    Why is it that that too many churches don’t see this as important.

    The church we attend as a family Kings Church Carlisle is a good place, but is so inward looking, this stuff is irrelevant to them.

    Anyway the cathedral term starts soon, my son is a chorister, and I love the tranquilty, peace and tradition, it’s my spiritual oasis! Even if I know that doesn’t connect with real people in a way that is meaningful.

    off on the merry-go-round we go again…..