Thursday, August 14, 2008

I can't get no...satisfaction?

The other day, I was in a fast food business that focuses on chicken. There was a customer who was not happy with her order. She explained that it was not done enough for her. As the issue was handed over to the shift manager, she checked the chicken. The shift manager explained that the chicken was fully cooked and she had cooked it herself.

The customer wanted another order. The shift manager explained how she cooked the chicken for the required time and that all of the chicken was similarly prepared. She offered to refund the customer's money. The customer insisted that she wanted another order of chicken. The manager gave her the option of a refund or keeping her original order.

I was very interested in this exchange, because of that old (false and incomplete) adage--the customer is always right. While the customer is always right about his/her expectations, that does not change the reality of the business. Unless the manager believed this was a bad piece of chicken, giving away more of the same doesn't make the customer happy, it just makes the restaurant less profitable. Good for the shift manager.

All customer satisfaction is not equal. In some cases what we expect is not even close in different industries. The average level of service we expect from the cable company is far different than our expectations from an internet retailer.

Before you paint me with the "doesn't get customer satisfaction" brush. let me say that it is important to deliver a high level of service to your customers. Doing so should get you more business if you understand how to make their experience a memorable one.

However, if your best is not good enough for them, you have to make a business decision. Are we going to get better or do we believe our level of accomplishment is good enough? If you have no plans to get better, target customers that like your level of accomplishment and quickly get the others out of your business.

It is better to not have customers that you will not satisfy, than to keep them around. The more they show up, the more your happy customers start to wonder if their level of approval is appropriate.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Woot - Shopper's Delight

I really like to shop.

Without unlimited funds I have to find other outlets for the shopaholism.
One is a work outlet to allow you to shop. Another is Woot! If you are willing to be awake at Midnight Central Time, there is always a bargain to consider. While you may or may not have interest in this daily opportunity to spend a few bucks, it is very temporary. Once they sell out or the 24 hour period ends, that item is gone.

When the Woot folks really get their ADHD on, there is a Woot Off. Look for the orange lights and you can buy one Woot after another for a day or three. Shop, Shop, Shop until your heart's content.

Mostly there are tech toys available for purchase on Woot. Sometimes there are less technical items like vacuum cleaners and the infamous bag of crap. However, they do have other Woot sites where you can buy wine or unique t-shirts.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is It Creativity

When you tweak things off an original idea--is that creativity?

Earlier today I got that Nike Sparq commercial stuck in my head.

There is the short version which has creative word play and the longer version (here) with the catchy tune.

As parody will do, there are knock offs like this and also this

"My fatter is fatter than your fatter"

What's my point?

In the business world, we tend to look down on copycat organizations from a development standpoint because they didn't create, they only copy or tweak. This is particularly true of service businesses. You better copy the good ideas of competitors or be left behind. Imagine an airline without a frequent flier program.

However, from a consumer view, there is love for similarity because it makes things more price competitive and easier to compare.

And finally, a point I'll save for a future blog--there really are not that many groundbreaking unique ideas. We all tweak a lot.

That commercial is good in part because of the links to sports. The original song was done in 2004.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Attack of the Plastic?

I heard a news story the other day about the dangers of chemicals coming from plastic containers. It all seemed a bit tricky for the average person to keep up with until these came to light.

On the Today Show, Dr. Nancy shared some insight.

This document (Adobe Acrobat Reader needed) comes from the website she notes at the end. As usual the businesses and the environmentalists have very different views on this, but they would both say this is about green.

An environmental green perspective from 2006.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) perspective from 2007. Adobe Acrobat Reader needed.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) group perspective
from 2008.

Where does all this lead the unsorted thinker?

It's not as complex as you may suspect. Clearly, some of this stuff gets into our bodies-see CDC report. The challenge is how much can we control and what difference will it make in the long run. To me, if I were a senior citizen, I'd expect to die of something else before this might be discovered to be more problematic, so no real worries.

As a parent, this could mean something significant for children who have a long life expectancy in front of them. It seems easy enough to steer clear of certain bottles that have a higher likelihood of causing concerns. Keep an eye on those recycling numbers (resin ID codes-Adobe Acrobat Reader needed) on the bottles. Skip the controversial ones.
If you are truly concerned, note that BPA is also used to line tin food cans. Are you willing to give up the canned goods?

If you are in the middle ages (neither child nor senior citizen ;-0) then you have some decisions to make. From the CDC piece, BPA seems to have some kind of estrogen effect. I'm not a medical professional, but it is easy enough to say protect the women and girls. I think there are enough reusable plastic bottles around to not use the questionable ones. It's too much effort to have guys plastics and girls plastics, so I'll put aside the questionable bottles. For the single guys, it probably doesn't matter much. If you might get married or become that baby-daddy, then setting these bottles aside makes you appear more aware of current events and health issues. These things might move you a little farther up the scale for the ladies that care about such things.

Note: need future blog entry about things that take on a life of their own being used in ways totally unlike their original design. Example resin ID codes mentioned above. They are there for recycling assistance.

WWPD - What would Plastic Man do? Hmmm...

If you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, it is available for free. Just click this link.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Parking Lot Madness

Why do parking lots seem to have their own rules that are independent of reality?

I see people circling parking lots looking for a good spot. Often this means using 15 minutes of $3.50 a gallon gas to get 20-40 yards closer to the entrance of a building. If you have a legitimate reason to be close, you should have a disabled parking permit. Otherwise, the extra minute or two of walking is probably good exercise for you.

In a normal parking lot, the arrows are there to direct traffic. It is always odd to see people going the wrong way down one way lanes in a parking lot. Haven't they noticed that it is hard to get into the spaces when you go the wrong way? I find it more amusing when people get upset that you are in their way when they go against the traffic flow.

Recently, I came across a parking lot where the people that run it must have lost their minds. They decided that their Atlanta parking lot was more like Europe. They reversed the arrows to change the traffic flow inside their gated lot! Once you turn into their property, start using the left side for travel...except where they decided to make certain parts one way. While this would be confusing for most people, they took their mysterious patterns to new levels by not marking parts of it at all where there was a two lane loop.

Just to make this more special, the confusing parking lot is at a senior citizens' apartment building. The perfect place to confuse the drivers. Nothing like mind games for 70 year old drivers. Maybe next month they will start projecting images of kids running in front of the cars to see if the old folks will have heart attacks.

I imagine personal injury lawyers will set up shop just outside their fence.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Madness - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am a basketball fan.

This is the best sports time of the year for me.

Call in a favor, use personal time, but free yourself to catch a few college basketball games. Those office pools bring out folks from all corners to put their 2 cents in to win bragging rights (or maybe a prize).

While I enjoy both college and pro basketball, the energy and excitement that goes with March Madness is unmatched--particularly in the first weekend. I am generally neutral in games like Stanford vs Marquette. HOWEVER, it was a great game to see. The Stanford coach gets thrown out in the first half. The game goes to OT. A 7 footer wins the game on an incredible, off balance, twisting shot.

While there are not as many games this Thursday-Sunday, I am sure that some of them will be very close and the crowds will be into them far more than any other event that starts and stops during three weeks.

While I enjoy watching, Cheech and Chong recognized the excitement that players have for the game in the early 70s. Love the song, but the video can rub some the wrong way. The Basketball Jones

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Preference vs Process

The other day, the UT got a request to purchase a specific brand of peanut butter. I paused because the current 2 brands of PB were not the generic that this frugal shopper would love to buy. Even though I bought fancy brand #3, I was not convinced that it was any better than the other two. The comment that Mrs. UT sent my way stated that I had no appreciation for the taste that was clearly better in brand 3.

I’ll admit that I am not an expert foodie, but I did score in the middle of the pack (debonair diner) on a foodie quiz. I do wander over to the Food Network sometimes. I don’t think my kid is a foodie either, just far too picky to enjoy the variety of foods out there. Anyhow, Mrs. UT tossed a Pepsi challenge mumble in the air just before I started making lunches. GAME ON! A process idea initiated.

I got the opportunity to test both Mrs. Picky and her mini protagonist before they left the house. With 3 jars of peanut butter and 3 spoons for each, they both showed a dislike of brand 1 and general indifference between brands 2 and 3 before settling on brand 2.

You should have seen the UT doing the “You didn’t pick brand 3” dance.

My future work on the differences between things we buy into because of marketing versus reality is born!