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Archive for the ‘starbucks’ Category

1. Bad Customer Service

As a follow-up to my US air travel rants of yore, this piece by Joseph Jaffe (also a follow-up to his own rants on the same subject – his being specific to Delta Airlines):

A bunch of my colleagues experienced the delta skelter.

About 10% of the Microsoft people travelling from Atlanta to Brussels on july 21st couldn’t find their luggage in Brussels. Some of the luggage are still missing today. Among the retrieved ones, the suitcases of my lovely colleagues Valérie and Virginie… in  very bad shape (see picture). Valérie called Delta today to discuss a compensation but they asked her to call again within a week.  They obviously don’t have the time to handle her complain.

Bad goes around.

Wow. Check out the picture of the bag here. Imagine if you took your car into a mechanic’s shop for service, it came back with a huge dent in the hood and grease stains all over the seats, and the customer service manager told you “uh, yeah, sorry ’bout that… Why don’t you come back later this week when I have time to talk to you.”

Imagine any company outside of the airline industry doing this. “Sorry about your suits sir, the dry-cleaning machine must have malfunctioned. Come back later this week and we’ll see what we can do for you.” I don’t think so.

2. Bait & Switch Tactics

Seth Godin also focuses on the airline industry today with this:

I feel badly for the airline industry. They are caught in a never-ending price war due to online websites and their own commodification. Pick the cheapest flight to get from here to there…

The natural short-term solution is bait and switch. Advertise the lowest price you can imagine and then require add on fees so you can actually make a profit.

Air Canada, which my readers generally concur is the single worst major airline in North America, has a fascinating policy. No oversized duffel bags, regardless of weight, unless they contain hockey gear. No shin guards, you pay $80 a bag.

Of course, you can have whatever rules you want, even if they’re only designed to help defensemen. The problems with bait and switch are:

1. You have to be very careful to apply them equally, because people hate being treated worse than everyone else.

2. You have to be prepared for anger, resentment and brand disintegration.

 See what his answer to pain vs. pleasure is for companies like Air Canada here. (Hint: Disney has a pretty good system in place.)

3. Community Managers

Chris Brogan has a great piece on the essential skills of a community manager, which ties in nicely with the Tribalization of Business post from Monday. Some of these skills include being experienced communicators, being ambassadors and advocates all in one, being bodyguards and protectors, etc. Great post, but the real gold here is found within the comments. Here are two of my favorite:

“The great community manager is able to match the importance of the bottom line with the requirement of providing customers with a feeling of being #1. He or she is an advocate for the customer while being able to discern what is realistic ahead of time.” – Sol Young

“Not a skill, but an essential for a good community manager is to be empowered by their organization. They need to have very public, spontaneous conversations; sometimes shiny happy ones, sometimes trickier ones. Not an easy string for many companies to cut, but the only way for real conversation and communities to evolve.” – Pamela O’Hara

Join the conversation here.

Chris Abraham follows suit with this post about the importance of Community Leaders:

I woke up to an amazing article written by Jonathan Trenn, The fallacy of community, and I responded in a comment to a pretty passionate article and a passionate comment string, and here’s what I wrote — and I have expanded the argument below, so it is an expansion:

Gosh, I don’t know what to say here… there are so many different types of communities, many of which can surely be manufactured. What every successful community requires is community leadership. Community leadership can be organic and emergent or they can be hired in the form of online community managers or facilitators. A strong leadership — people who have skin in the game — is more important than a good web application; also, these community leaders are often the main draw to the community and can be the difference between keeping or losing your members when a competitor comes to town.

Read the full article here. It’s good. (Why the focus on communities all of a sudden? Whatever the reason, I like that it is on so many people’s minds.)

4. Starbucks, design, and the future

John Moore gives a sneak peek at the design of future of Starbucks stores. (kind of cool, but will it work?)

5. The writing on the wall finally gets the attention of Ford execs.

CNN reports that Ford Motor Co., faced with its largest quarterly loss ever, is finally planning to “shift product line, bringing European-made vehicles to North America.” Duh.

The company said it will make big changes to the vehicles it sells domestically – bringing six small cars made in Europe to the North American market.

Ford said that three large truck and sport utility vehicle plants in Wayne, Mich., Louisville, Ky., and Cuautitlan, Mexico would be switched over for the manufacture of small cars. Re-tooling will begin in December, the company said.

In addition to converting the three plants in North America, Ford said it will ramp up production of small utility vehicles at its Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant, including the Ford Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid.

Check out Ford’s “new” Euro offerings here. Better late than never, I guess.

6. Back to work already!

Okay, lunch break over. I have to get back to work now. Have a great Wednesday, everyone.

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Great post by Lewis green over at BizSolutionsPlus on how great leadership can build great brands. Here’s a taste:

You can tell a lot about leadership by studying how leaders live their lives outside their work. Whether President of the United States or Starbucks or L&G Business Solutions, we can take the measure of a boss not only by evaluating their principles and how they lead at work, but perhaps more so by how they behave when they are away from the office.

Let’s take a look at one such leader: Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO, Starbucks.
Schultz reinvented Starbucks after he purchased the company from its original owners in 1987. Initially, he joined Starbucks in 1982, which was then a small Seattle retailer with five stores. He bought Starbucks in 1987, bringing a new vision that was to be built upon a solid foundation of Guiding Principles, which became the following.
The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:
1. Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

2. Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

3. Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.

4. Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

5. Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

6. Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

Ultimately, these Principles alongside passionate leaders and employees grew the business beyond anyone’s imagination. By 1997, Starbucks boasted 1,300 stores, 25,000 employees, and an international brand that rivaled all others. This month, Starbucks Market Capitalization stands at a lofty $14.5 billion.

However, Starbucks faces several serious challenges, as its brand image seems in decline. For all practical intents and purposes, Schultz left the day-to-day operations at Starbucks to others nearly a decade ago.

Schultz recently, as Michael Dell did last year, returned and jammed both his thumbs into the dikes to stem the obvious leaks that have occurred, leading to a decline in the Third Place Experience and a perceived reduction in product quality. One wonders if this is the same Howard Schultz, however, that as a young entrepreneur surprised everyone by his success.
The young Schultz refused to take a salary for several years after buying the company. He insisted on ethical behavior from all. He surrounded himself with smart people. He motivated and inspired everyone he touched. His passion was contagious. And he could be trusted and relied upon in every conceivable way.

We can all agree that poor leadership can kill great companies, and inspired leadership can turn small companies into extraordinary powerhouses. How does your boss fare as a leader? Where is he/she taking your organization? If you’re a boss, take a step back and be honest with yourself. Are there things you could do better? What are they? What are you doing TODAY, this week, this month to take them off your “I’m not super good at this” list?

As a business, department or project leader, how are you REALLY impacting the brand(s) you serve? If you don’t know or can’t be objective about it, you might want to ask for your peers’ input. Ask them to anonymously tell you one thing you do extremely well, and the one thing they think you should get better at right now.

What’s most impressive about this whole Schultz thing is learning that he refused to take a salary his frst few years on the job. How many CEOs today would do the same thing?

Integrity is a pretty powerful thing.

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