Lead a vivid life that does good

Category: Sales Marketing Customers NZ (Page 1 of 2)

Bad systems, lead to bad customer experiences!

"The ordinary wait for energy to do the work. The extraordinary do the work to get the energy."I got grumpy with a Customer Service guy on the phone at Trustpower yesterday. I wanted someone to take ownership and they wouldn’t so I got annoyed at him. I wasn’t abusive, just frustrated and CEO type direct.

It got me precisely nowhere!

A few months back, I decided to move our home phone and broadband to Trustpower, to hook into the special deal they were promoting. All was going well until the day that Fibre was to be blown from the cabinet (a distribution box about 1km away) to our house. There was a break in the line and it couldn’t be completed. I was ok with that after chatting to the installer, as someone will sort it asap.

That was a month ago.

And each time I ring Trustpower, I’m told if it’s not fixed I need to ring them back.

So yesterday I asked the young guy if they could ring me back. I’m sick of following it up. I wanted someone there to take ownership. Trustpower keeps saying the problem is with the Fibre installer (who I can’t ring). I told him yesterday that I’m Trustpower’s customer and I want someone at their end to follow it up and ring me back. I said I wouldn’t have a business if I treated customers that way. He blamed their supplier.

The rant got me nowhere, other than making the guy think I was a dork.

The problem of course is not the guy on the phone.

The problem is Trustpower has no system. No way of following up to keep their customers informed if Fibre installs go badly.

Bad systems, lead to bad customer experiences.

On reflection, what learning do I take out of my rant…

Firstly, I got grumpy, and it wasn’t worth it, and it wasn’t his fault. One of my missions in life as I grow older is to NOT become a grumpy old man. I loathe men who have forgotten what it is like to be young and make mistakes and push the extremes. I hate it when I forget that a person is an individual, caught behind a bad process.

If you’re the guy at Trustpower I spoke to, ‘I’m sorry’.

If you’re from Trustpower please, help fix the problem. “The ordinary wait for energy to do the work. The extraordinary do the work to get the energy.” Blatant quote from Trustpower.

Secondly, I was frustrated because I know that from time to time our customers will encounter similar frustrations, and I wouldn’t even know. There is indeed a massive difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extra-ordinary’, and I’m not sure we are working fast enough to put somethings right.

Marketing Spin from Hamilton City Council and Telecom.

Flying Solo 07
Telecom recently sent me a letter. It tells me how good they are for doubling my broadband usage from 20GB to 40GB. They are also putting the price up by $5. Thanks Telecom, you are really nice guys, except for the fact we don’t use 20GB and there is a new plan for 20GB that is $10 less per month.

I feel cheated.

Hamilton City Council sent me a letter telling me the valuation they use for rates are changing. They show me my rates now, and then show me my new rates, with water and rubbish separated. At first glance it looks like a saving, until I read the fine print of the existing rates. They include water and rubbish, so when I add the three up I am worse off.

I feel deceived.

My issue is not so much with the changes, but more importantly it’s with the way it’s communicated.  Why the ‘spin’? Why try to deceive us? Why not be honest?

Telecom really aren’t increasing my broadband because I need it, they are doing it to generate extra revenue. HCC are just playing politics.

Neither wants a relationship with me and therefore I don’t deserve authenticity. If they upset a few people along the way. They don’t care.

A small business like mine can’t behave this way of course. We would lose our customers, and our customers pay our wages.

But, it is a reminder nonetheless to make sure all of our marketing is authentic, and honest, and ultimately treats people, the way we want to be treated.

Is it even possible to WIN without competition?

Yesterday we headed out to Patetonga to watch our friend’s son race in Motocross (#342 in picture). He is racing smaller bikes in a larger class to give him more competition, as he often nails the competition in his normal class.

This made me think about the importance of competition.

One of my 5 strengths from Strengths Finder 2.0 is Competitive. I love winning and hate losing. When there is something to win, I try my hardest to win it (or often don’t play if I know I cant win, I hate losing so bad). Competition for me, causes me to work harder, think more creatively, be more persistent.


We talk a lot about winning. About being winners. About being successful. About improving ourselves.


We have become anti-competition. Kids play sports and do stuff to participate. Most businesses don’t care about their competition. Charities think competition is bad.


Is it even possible to WIN without competition?

Well no.

Not for me at least. I am reminded from yesterday that healthy competition, the kind of competition that stretches you to become better, is incredibly important.

And right now I need to add some of that back into my life.

203|365 Intellectually Inquisitive

Day203.jpg One of the problems with being intellectually inquisitive, is one can tend to over think or even over discuss things that have absolutely no impact on ones life.

Take as an example Countdown, the new brand for Woolworths, Foodtown, the old Countdown and Price Chooper. The first time I saw the new brand with the new logo was in Greenlane in Auckland, where the colours were green and orange. Next was Rototuna (pictured here), where the colours are black, white and green.
So I started trying to work out what they were doing with their brand. Getting rid of multiple brand names seemed to be a great idea, but to two different colour sets? Strange. I discussed it with a number of people and came up a whole myriad of explanations. We wondered if they were trying to make some stores appear more budget, and others more classy, while bringing value back to the core brand. We wondered if they would have different pricing points.
We over wondered and over talked given that it is not our brand (although it was mainly travel time).
A lot of thought about something that has no effect on me.
But then that is the point of inquisitive. By thinking and discussing and even waxing lyrical, one refines thinking for real life situations in the future.

[203 | 365 Took this photo while getting milk. Originally titled it 'Intellectual Curiosity' but then changed curiosity to 'inquisitive' because that is a family value and my girls occasionally read my blog.]

181 | 365 Coffee Stories

Day181.jpgAgora’s story is being formed one drop, one cup of coffee at a time.
Yesterday I sat at Agora drinking a wonderful coffee made by the infamous Simon, and over heard a customer tell her two friends great things about the café, about how we give 50cents from each cup of coffee to charity.
There is nothing quite so satisfying as having one of our customers tell the story for us.
As I left the café I remembered the conversations we had as trustees about story. I remembered how one idea developed into another. I remembered how we want agora to make an impact on our community and have a story.
As I left the café, I also thought about my story, about the story of my family, my business, my friends. Those stories, like Agora’s, are a working in progress.
Like a great coffee brewing, one drop at a time, story is very powerful.

[181 | 365 ‘Coffee Stories’ a shot of a shot of coffee brewing, one drop at a time at café agora]

174 | 365 – Coal Wagons

Day174.jpgBack in the New Zealand Rail days, the Railways thought they were in the railway business. They thought they had no competition and they were wrong. They were actually in the transportation business and their competitors were trucking companies. For passengers the competition was bus companies and then airlines.
In business, knowing what business you are actually in is critically important.
Finally though, with new management, Kiwirail have sorted this out. They are not in the transport business or the railway business. Now their competition is static walls as they compete for taggers.
Not really true, but maybe a good idea for Jim is to run a competition for taggers to ‘beautify’ the Huntly coal wagons and them arrest them all afterwards.

Another day. Another trip to Auckland.


06_adlterminalconstructiionoct04 Recently I flew on Pacific Blue for the first time.  As it was my first flight I had expectations. Big Ones. Cool crew, more seat room, modern planes. It was to be an adventure.

On my first flight the crew were dull, boring and lifeless. Their attempts at humour were staged and had as much heart as frozen dead fish. My second flight was far more entertaining, the crew obviously enjoyed each other and started their own onboard dating service over the PA. On my final flight the crew were chatty and entertaining.

Surprisingly however, Pacific Blue did not live up to my expectations.

The first crew let them down. I hadn’t expected the seats to be so hard (yip really). I hadn’t thought about the fact I would need to buy a drink of water, and that the minimum visa transaction was $10. I don’t carry cash.

They did not meet my expectations. Not through any fault of their own but because I had the wrong expectations.

Jim flew with them a week later and loved them, metaphorically of course. His expectations were different. 


In business, in life, or in love, expectations are the root of most problems.

Over and over and over again I have expectations for people that I forget to tell them about.  I think it is one of my greatest leadership struggles as it happened to me twice on Friday. They in turn have expectations of me that they don’t tell me about. I fail to meet their expectations and they mine.

All because we didn’t communicate well.

We become disappointed with each other,



Expectations, if I don’t communicate them, ARE MY PROBLEM.

Does advertising really work?

'Old marketing is dead
10 years ago we were able to advertise a position in a paper and know that people looking for a job would see it. Nowadays you need to advertise in many papers and on multiple websites and you are still not guaranteed a good response.

It used to be that you could build a product and market it really well and people would naturally use your service. Nowadays we are all bombarded with advertising and media and information. We as consumers often ignore these messages. When was the last time you made that call after hearing an ad? It is almost impossible to make an impression and a thousand fold more difficult to actually get them to pick-up the phone.

New marketing is everything we do
Brand is no longer about just having a great logo and good advertising. Brand is now driven by everything the company does. Every time we answer the phone or deliver a sales proposal or email a client or they use online, we build our brand. The aim of new marketing is to get talked about, in a positive way of course, because of how ingenious we are!

To have a strong brand you now have to have a service that is so ingenious, so smart and edgy and stunning that it gets talked about.  Think about Google. How many of you started using Google because you saw their ad. None, they didn't advertise. You heard about it, tried it, liked it, kept using it and if you're an early adopter like me, probably told others about it.' – quote from my eBook called 'Being INGENIOUS @ agoge'

All this means that the old way of attracting candidates or getting customers works less and less. It will get harder and harder get peoples attention. Your only chance is to focus on providing a stunning service or being an incredible employer, so that you get talked about.

Finally, fyi, we measure most of our advertsing, we change ads and try new and creative things. When you measure advertising, the results generally dont make good reading, it forces you to think outside the square. You should try it!

Wasting your advertising dollars

A couple of years ago, Amazon.com announced that they were going to stop their advertising all  together. No more magazine adverts or TV. Instead they decided to invest all of their advertising dollars into providing free shipping of books.

AmazonFrom what I have read the marketing industry thought it was a foolish decision and predicted that it would spell the downfall of Amazon. How could they possibly think that investing money earmarked for advertising into making the customer experience more positive would increase sales.

The results: 1 year after the decision total sales were up 37% and international sales were up 81%.

The implication of applying the same thinking to our industry is huge. What areas do we spend money on, that if deployed into making our customers experience more positive, would actually increase sales.

Is it technology or marketing or advertising or capital equipment or research & development. How could we redeploy this money, improve the customer experience and increase our business along the way.

People Matter

“Is this Mr Nicol”, asked the telesales person who interrupted my life shortly after I arrived home tonight. I answered “Yep”, which was followed by a very ungenuine “How are you?” I know it was ungenuine because I never actually got the chance to answer before she launched into her sales talk.

She talked for a full 90 secs and all the time I just stood there thinking about how she doesn’t give a toss about me, or for that fact, if I am interested in her product. She just wants to get her job done. Nothing wrong with that most people would say.

I thought afterwards about how easy it is for our staff to do the same thing. To answer a call, handle the call, take the order, track the delivery or resolve the complaint. But they can do it, we can do it, without showing that we actually care. Peoplematter

I am passionate about building a company that “Lives People Matter”, which means I want my team to continually remember that they are dealing with a real live person. A person who deserves honesty and authenticity and time.

We do this by encourageing our team to LISTEN first, CLARIFY by asking questions, EMPATHISE by putting themselves in the person shoes, then and only then to RESOLVE the issue.

It is so easy to think that we hear our clients’ problem and jump straight to resolve. The result is the person, the real living person, doesn’t leave the conversation feeling like they matter.

If they don't feel like they matter, we are just like the telesales person who interrupts our dinner.

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