Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Congratulations, Juande Ramos

I've just come across the website of Juande Ramos, recently deposed Spurs manager (head coach, or whatever title comes with a sporting director above you).

It's a site available in Spanish and English and he's used it to communicate his side of the story after his dismissal from Spurs.

I'd never before come across a football manager with a dedicated website.

My favourite section is this, where he enables fans to post their stories of meeting Mr Ramos.

Even if the site is indexed at 3 and 4 on Google for a search of 'Juande Ramos', unfortunately other results suggest he 'cuts a pathetic figure' or that he 'needs the sack'.

Mr Ramos should be applauded for entering the digital age. By having a website, he's giving himself a platform to communicate with key stakeholders. However, it also goes to show the importance of search engines, social networks and other websites in shaping a brand - and how important they are whether you are Tesco, Juande Ramos or just Matthew Cain!

Tricky coverage for BA?

I've blogged recently about how companies which make an emotional appeal to customers may be more at risk from criticism online than those who have a more transactional relationship.

This article in the Independent about British Airways seems to highlight my point.

However, the impact of the article on BA's online reputation will be limited. Why?
  • the article is not listed in the top 30 of Google for British Airways
  • the BA website has an authority of 3,360 (high) compared with the Independent's 8490 (critical)
We'll monitor blogs for the next day or so (particularly in Wales and Scotland) but I don't think this story has legs.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Customer complaints making you emotional?

I read Robert Cialdini's book on influence recently.

He recounts a piece of research where volunteers were asked to drag a circle into a square on a computer. They were asked to do as many as they could within five minutes. One group was paid a small amount ($5, say) the other a large amount ($50, say) and the third group was asked to do it as a favour to the research organisers.

Which group do you think performed the task most effectively? It was group three. Cialdini suggests that companies appeal to staff on an emotional level because it increases productivity.

How does it work with advertising and customers? Think of a few well-known slogans:
  • There must be another way
  • The world's favourite airline
  • Every little helps
Clearly all successful companies who have built brand loyalty. When the company makes an emotional plea the benefits are obvious.

But companies make mistakes, and sometimes customers feel let down. Do customers of these 'emotional companies' feel more let down than those companies that offer a more transactional relationship?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

20 Anfi Emerald problems

I've just spent two weeks staying at a timeshare in Gran Canaria. We stayed at Anfi del Mar in January which was very impressive. However, this time it was fully booked and we were placed in Anfi Emerald. It was no comparison.

It's not that any single incident spoilt the holiday. Simply that combined, dealing with the staff was an irritant and combined, they suggested this place is poorly managed with little care or respect to guests and principally a means to sell timeshares. Apparently the apartment costs £1500 a week so you'd expect 5* service.

However, there is only one restaurant one site and a small shop. The complex feels just too small to promote a professional service.

Here, in tedious detail, are all the problems we had:

Front of house
1. We arrived at 22.30 and were told that we couldn't take food from the restaurant to our room so had to keep our 6 month old awake longer whilst we ate in the restaurant. For the rest of the holiday, we watched people taking pizzas and take-away food from the restaurant.

2. The parking that we were told beforehand was free, wasn't.

3. When we arrived in our room the travel cot and high chair that we had ordered weren't there.

4. When my wife called reception to ask for the travel cot, she was asked if it could wait til the morning!

5. When my inlaws came to visit, they were told our room number without any checks. Fine for us, not so much if you're a VIP.

6. The information book in the room said that there was free internet access and we just had to get a cable from reception. When I went to reception, they said it required a €10 deposit, despite having our credit card details and despite us having over €200 already on our room bill.

7. The first day I waited 15 minutes to order a coffee. It came after a further 30 minutes, cold and only half a cup.

8. The second day we waited 45 minutes for a pizza and club sandwich at lunchtime. They both arrived cold and - suspiciously - seconds after we complained to staff

9. On the third day, we asked for condiments. The waiter then went and served a rep for the holiday company and never brought the condiments. There were only three tables in use; not unduly busy.

10. On subsequent days we waited unduly to place an order and receive it. When we complained to the waiter he told us that he was doing his best.

11. We frequently had to wait until reps had been served (they spent most of the day in the restaurant) until our order would be taken

12. On one day, with only two tables in the restaurant, I got up to leave and was asked by one of the two waiters to prove that I had paid. The waiter asking was the one who had taken payment from us. When he couldn't find proof of payment on his PDA I was told to wait until he went into his office before leaving the restaurant.

13. Everything sharpened up one day. From the look of the flipcharts on the rep's restaurant table, management had been visiting. The waiters even wore bowties. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to wait half way through the barman assembling my order whilst he worked out how to put on his tie.

14. I don't mind hearing from the waiters what they earn and what their mortgage costs. But I know plenty of people who would.

The reps
15. A rep called our apartment on our arrival and said that if we had any problems we should contact him. He didn't leave any method to contact him.

16. Constantly sat at the restaurant all day smoking and on more than one occasion received waiter service before guests.

17. We heard a (more senior?) rep tell a junior rep that when showing people around the venue they should walk infront of the guests and "lead them like dogs".

The apartment
18. Looks great. Cleaning always a great job. Except the towels and bedding wasn't changed when promised but a day later.

19. UK TV channels didn't work including BBC1 and 2, Sky Sports 1 and ITV.

20. Hit and miss. Sometimes we were allowed in straight away, sometimes we had to provide our room number through the intercom and sometimes our room number and registration number. Sometimes the intercom was answered with efficiency, sometimes not.

. . . And of course they provide a survey form, accompanied by sweets but no pen!

So if you're planning to stay at Anfi Emerald - do; but don't expect anything but surly disinterested service and an amateur 'in it for the sales' ethos. But if you can get in Anfi del Mar instead, grab it with both hands.

Friday, 3 October 2008

How to win online - free

The Media Standards Trust have announced that their journalisted website has received over 100,000 unique visitors in September, eight months after launch. That's more visitors that Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale or the Press Gazette.

It's a fantastic achievement, particularly given their total promotion budget of £150. So how did they do it?

The 'build it and they will come' strategy is used too often by organisations with websites. Too little thought is given to reaching out to new users.

Why did it work for Journalisted?:
  1. volume of content - the site has over 1,000,000 pages and;
  2. a long tail - each page doesn't have a lot of readers but cumulatively it works
  3. unique content - they are providing info on journalists where little else works
  4. combined, this means good search engine optimisation with most of their pages 1 or 2 on Google
  5. their A-Z index also helps search engines explore the site
  6. no 'empty pubs' - no page is dependent on a volume of readers
  7. regular updates delivering repeat business - evidenced by 70% of readers 'favouriting' the site
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