mp900442404-2.jpgA colleague once passed on the received wisdom that when a business starts to use sporting metaphors it’s a sure sign that it’s in trouble. Be that as it may, this post offers some lessons from the London 2012 Olympics for delivering superior service and a terrific customer experience. This means changing the rules for the Service Smackdown – which, since I made them up and they are basically unfair, I’m at liberty to do – as I’m not able to compare London 2012 with anything even vaguely similar – the scale and uniqueness of the undertaking makes that impossible. Consider this to be more of an exhibition bout then since, on the basis of my direct experiences so far it’s at least podiumed* on customer service.

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Nathalie and partnerIn my attempts at bringing humour into my work, I – and I think I’m probably not the only one – have occasionally used the phrase ‘through the medium of interpretive dance’ as a shorthand for ‘out-there, wacky stuff in the business place’. Despite my love of aforesaid wackiness I’ve never actually been to a meeting or workshop where any form of dance was featured – until last night when I attended the excellent Knowledge Cafe run by Alida Acosta and accompanying tango dancers.

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mp900444005.JPGOr how you can keep going on a path of mediocrity while your customers fall by the wayside…

In the second of a series of Celebrity Death Match-style attempts to set one service provider against another, we present O2 vs T-Mobile with retail outlet Carphone Warehouse holding the ring.

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Ouch!This is the first - in a series of completely unfair, no-holds-barred customer service evaluations of two similar providers based on recent experiences. First into the ring, Ocado, the pioneer online supermarket synonymous with Waitrose’s high-end brands. And leaping over the ropes, here comes - uh - Waitrose, the high-end online supermarket. Confused? This post won’t help - but might illustrate how to get some basics right in this highly competitive area. Seconds out, round one. (more…)

Spot the stressed-out queuerYou can’t talk about customer service for long without queues coming to mind. There’s been a lot of coverage recently about queues in relation to the UK’s border controls fiasco at Heathrow Airport and the rather grumbling response to all this has rather missed the point – queuing is not always a bad thing and, moreover, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate great customer service.

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For a combination of reasons too tedious to go into here, this blog has been off-air for a few months.mp900202218.JPG

Normal service will be resumed in due course

It’s not always a question of balanceI’m writing this whilst watching Spain play Portugal in the World Cup and, as I usually root for the underdog, I’m supporting Portugal. Having had a great experience in Portuguese-style piri-piri outfit Nando’s last night I’m even more inclined to favour them. The secret? Over-compensation.

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Is this the life?I didn’t set out to theme this year’s blogs around films but as all consultants know, two data points make a trend, so maybe I’ll continue to do so (although I’m planning to see The Wolfman soon so that could be tricky). After finding a service message in The Road it’s much easier for me to find one in the latest George Clooney vehicle Up In The Air. But it’s one that challenged my own ideas of superior service.

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On a road to nowhere?I saw the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road at the weekend. It’s a marvellous film and, as an adaptation, it’s difficult to fault – but one aspect struck me as, well, intriguing. (more…)

Helvetica Black - so far no controversyAs someone whose walls are decorated with a fair amount of typography and calligraphy (an abiding interest from my wife’s days as an art student) I was interested to see the furore generated by IKEA’s decision to change its catalogue font from Futura to the more screen-friendly Verdana. Is this just an issue for font-geeks or a massive erosion of the brand loyalty engendered over many years of superior flat-pack design and serving countless Swedish meatballs? (more…)