Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

The promotion game can be a tricky one. No one really appreciates the intricacies until it goes horribly wrong. I have spent a good part of my life working in promotion of one kind or another. Television, Radio, Print, Billboards, Publishers, etc. You name it and I have promoted in it or for it. Some are big and well know places. Others, not so much, but they realized the need for good promotion.

In fact, those are the ones that I took my name from. One of the fellows who brought me some of these clients use to refer to me as “SPP”. One day I finally asked him why he called me that. He chuckled and explained, that it didn’t matter how little or how bad the material was he brought me to work with I was always able to make something good out of it. He went on to explain that SPP stood for Silk Purse Productions, like the old saying of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
He got it.

Now, I am not going to brag…ok, maybe just a little. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve won International Awards for Promotion in New York City (twice). I have trained and mentored people in the field who have gone on to do big things. Unfortunately, now that the internet exists a lot of people think that all they need is on-line social media accounts for promotion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to name just a few, are all incredibly useful tools for promotion but you still have to have some skill to navigate the ins and outs of promotion. Even a little common sense can help.

Recently I came across a small company that totally blew me away in how poorly they handled their promotion and customer service. I won’t name them. I didn’t name any of the big companies I spoke of above. Consider this a mini case study.

The pandemic has been very hard on a lot of businesses, especially the small family owned businesses. Some have not survived, others have actually flourished. He-Who and I tend to eat out a lot. When we like a place we are loyal customers, we write good reviews and we promote the place to friends, family and readers.  No one was looking forward to being able to eat inside again more than we were. When it finally happened we made a point of visiting one of our favourite places 125 km from where we live. We had visited during lock-down and were able to go inside and order but had to eat in the car. We aren’t really great at eating in the car.  When we got there this time we found there was no access to get inside. They had put in windows to order from outside and there were picnic tables outside for eating. We were not best pleased and I confess a little confused. We ordered and ended up eating in the car. Unfortunately, this was the first time that I can say the food was not good. More of it made it to the garbage than to our tummies. We were really disappointed.

When we returned home I went to see if there was a reason they were not letting us in. There was a post.

There were a couple of red flags here…

1)There should have been a better way to let people know

2) “We are too busy with lineups (daily) to be able to follow safety guidelines for COVID.” Ummmmm, there are still plenty of “guidelines” to follow even for just take-out. There were lots of lineups when they were busy before COVID, this implies to me that their cleaning of tables etc. was not being done because they were too busy. (Anyone else feeling a little queasy?)

3) I’m not sure I want to know that their sanity is in question while preparing food I am going to eat.

As I felt my food coming back up on me I wrote a note just to let them know we were disappointed. The response was…let’s see what you think.

I came out of my office and read this to He-Who. He was…not pleased (I’m trying to keep this PG). I confess, I had to calm down before I responded.

That was the end of that conversation. He-Who and I both had the same thought. We had been frequenting a place in another town. Family owned and operated. A husband and wife team that were killing themselves to keep customers happy throughout the pandemic. No excuses, no bad food, no poor service. When they were allowed they put tables on the sidewalk. When they were allowed to serve indoors I am happy to say their excellent customer service had them at capacity all day, as loyal customers kept coming. We both decided that we would rather give them our business and that we would not return to the other place.

This morning I got a private message from the offending place.

This person should not be handling the customer service or the promotion. To tell a client that they “mentally can’t handle it” is beyond my comprehension. But wait, there’s more. The following is what put me over the edge …

Never in all my years…I know I sound old, but seriously…never have I ever heard anyone use menopause as an excuse for them not being able to respond to a customer in a proper manner. This person has sent feminism back at least 40 years. I am torn between laughing my butt off and disgust.

The lack of professionalism from the business was astounding. They need help. I almost felt sorry for them, briefly. Very briefly. Had they handled this differently from the beginning I might have even offered to help them. As it is, my cousin saw the public posting and asked me on there where this place was located. I gave him directions and then added, “however, I can not recommend them at this time”.  

I’m not sure anyone can make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

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It has been quite awhile since I have traveled anywhere. It wasn’t long ago that I was a fairly frequent flyer… just not in awhile. Yes, traveling is one of my favourite things but that’s not what I want to talk about.
So there I am in Nashville unpacking all my stuff and getting organized for the next few days. Now, for those of you who know me or those of you who don’t, but happened to read my blog “How Far Will You Go?” you know I am pretty loyal to good products and service. This means that I travel with my some of my favourite products, like shampoo. When I undid the lid to the shampoo I was enveloped in the aroma that hooked me on the shampoo and that convinced me to buy more from the same line. That’s when it hit me. I don’t smell that aroma when I use the shampoo at home any more. Why?

This got me to thinking about some of my other favourite brands/products that have reached a measure of success and then for some reason have strayed away from the very item that gave them that success. Again, I ask, “Why?”.

My thoughts are that it is poor market research/management/customer awareness/just plain stupidity and/or all of the afore mentioned.

OJON Hair Products

OJON Hair Products

There is no doubt in my mind that OJON leads the way with restorative hair products. I recently discovered they are sold on the Shopping Channel but I have been buying them from Sephora for years. According to the blurb their formulas are infused with a 500–year–old beauty secret found in the remote regions of Central America’s Rain Forest. That secret is ojon oil, a.k.a. “nature’s golden elixir”. It works. I love it! The best part though is the aroma. It is kind of nutty & butterscotchy and actually hard to define. It is not flowery or frilly or perfumey (all the things I hate in a product). I use the shampoo, the conditioner, the glossing cream, the treatment, the mist…I think you get the idea. I can’t get enough of that scent! Recently they have been promoting a new line for colour treated hair. Being a woman of a certain age I have to confess that yes I do colour my hair. Trusting this brand without question I purchased the shampoo and conditioner. I don’t know what Tahitian Monoi is, but it surely has overpowered any Ojon oil that might be in it. Several of the reviews on the website put it quite simply, “It smells awful”.

CAPRINA Fresh Goats Milk Liquid Hand Soap (Original Formula) by Canus

CAPRINA Fresh Goats Milk Liquid Hand Soap (Original Formula) by Canus

My husband is a diabetic. Several years ago we received in the mail samples from the Diabetic Society that included Caprina Fresh Goats Milk Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap. It is very important for diabetics to take care of their skin and prevent sores and infections whenever possible. If it was recommended by the Diabetic Society we figured that was good enough for us so we tried it. It is a superior product and it wasn’t long before we were using the body wash and the body lotion as well. We became huge fans for many reasons. Needless to say goat’s milk is their not so secret ingredient…a natural moisturizer. Yeah! Caprina products are “proudly” Canadian. Yeah! They are biodegradable and phosphate-free. Yeah! Caprina never tests its products on animals. Yeah! Very subtle almost imperceptible scent. Double Yeah!
They became very successful very quickly and we seldom had a problem finding the products where we shopped. We were customers for life. A few years ago we noticed these fancy P.O.P. Caprina “Stations” in the stores. There we found all the original products along with five other formulas of each item. Now whenever we go to one of these stores there stands this big structure housing all the products in all the lines filled to the brim except of course the “Original Formula” which is always sold out. In the spirit of fairness we tried each one of the formulas at least once (because the one we wanted was sold out). We would not buy any of them again. When we find the original formula we stock up, as I imagine others are doing the same and that is why they run out. Can they not see that none of the other five are moving anywhere near as fast as the original?

RJ’s Natural Soft Eating Licorice

RJ’s Natural Soft Eating Licorice

This is my confession. I am addicted to RJ’s Natural Soft Eating Licorice. I like black licorice and black licorice products. But you have not tasted what real licorice tastes like until you try RJ’s. I have never had softer or fresher licorice. I have most of my friends and family hooked on it too. RJ’s is a family run, hands on company in New Zealand. They have a great story, website, blog and even a facebook page. They are extremely involved in helping their community. They actually respond to you if you contact them! But first and foremost they have a stellar product.
My problem is not so much with them as it is with their distributor. So far in Canada the only place I have been able to find RJ’s is in Longo’s. At Christmas this year I intended to put some RJ’s in all my Christmas packages. It seems I am not the only one that wanted to stock up for Christmas. When I went to pick it up they were out. Now, RJ’s has a whole line of licorice products that I am sure are amazing but the only ones carried by Longo’s are the black and a red ones which turns out to be raspberry (again all natural flavouring). The shelves were stocked with the raspberry, no black. The area I lived in had 3 Longo’s (I say, “lived”, because we moved and there is not a Longo’s within an hours drive now. But that is another whole story). I visited those three stores twice a week for six weeks. I talked to the Managers who all had the same story. They were back ordered. What I noticed was that the raspberry remained on the shelf that whole time and longer. It was well past Christmas when I finally broke down and tried it. It was hard as a rock and tasted terrible. Please understand here, I am not saying it is a bad product. I am saying it was stale and old and obviously on the shelves way too long. Apparently, we Longo’s shoppers just aren’t into the red stuff as much. I did some research and found that the Canadian distributor is Husky Food Importers and Distributors Ltd. located in Woodbridge, ON. I contacted both RJ’s and the distributor at the same time. RJ’s responded almost immediately and Husky responded 3 days later. Husky’s only response was that they were indeed back ordered and had been for some time. By the time they responded I had found that RJ’s distributor in California, NZING (New Zealand Natural Goods), offers an online purchasing service. Hmmm, what a novel idea!
NZING also offers all of the RJ’s products. I have really wanted to try their Licorice All Sorts and just may now. So tell me, Husky why all the red licorice which obviously isn’t selling, none of the other products at all and still continually running out of the black licorice.

Yes, these are a few of my favourite things. Just tell me why I have to work so hard to spend my money on them? Why when something works, is popular and obviously sells well do you have to muck it up with stuff that doesn’t or isn’t?

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Every time I get my car serviced, whether it be for something big or just an oil change, I have found that no matter where I take it they put in a nice new shiny air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. It’s a funny thing but that never use to happen. This may seem like a nice gesture, or good customer service but I take it personally. They actually have to remove the air freshener I have there when I take the car in to put the new one on. To date no one has actually thrown it out. They usually leave it somewhere I can find it.
I just had my car serviced this is the air freshener I found dangling when my car was returned to me.

Their idea of an airfreshener

Ok, it is cute. I believe it is the AFLAC duck.  Always, a hero.
This is MY air freshener that was hanging from my rear view mirror when I took my car in.
I have had it for some time and am rather attached to it. I’m sure I don’t need to explain myself.

My idea of an airfreshener

When I first acquired my little friend, I had just spent a couple of hours waiting in line with a lot of other people (mostly men) waiting for my cars E Test to be done. As I patiently waited my turn I watched as the attendants would offer an air freshener of their choice to each male customer. They were all scantily clad women and they had to choose between 5 different poses. It didn’t bother me that the male indecision of which lovely they wanted hanging from their mirror was adding an extra 5 minutes to each service. What did bother me was when the customer was a woman they simply installed a great big yellow happy face from the mirror. Yes, I said a “Happy Face”. When it came my turn I interrupted the installation and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m sure you can do better than that”. They looked at me, rather sheepishly and very slowly retrieved a box from behind the counter. Some of the finest male specimens I have laid eyes on lay in that box. There were 5 choices (and a few choice words from me for hiding them behind the counter). I demanded one of each and they didn’t argue. I had a lot of fun mailing the other four to friends I knew would appreciate them.
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if it is a mechanic or just a friend, or even a boss who borrows my car (as long as they are male), when I get it back they are pink behind the ears (sometimes even quite flushed) as they hand me the keys and I always have to search for my air freshener.
I’m pretty sure the air freshener part doesn’t even work anymore. I can plant other air fresheners around my car for that. But seriously, who would want to replace that grin with a happy face? Not this girl.

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