6 ways the CEO screws up!

When the CEO receives a complaint (and it is so easy to find a CEO’s email address now see www.ceoemail.com) it is often the CEO’s fault. Here’s why…

1)  Complaints about call centres  there are so many complaints about waiting times, being passed over etc. Many issues and reasons for the complaints are discussed in this post Call Centres. Most if not all boil down to the CEO. Who is putting the time limits on calls, making decisions about targets etc?

2) Rude staff – who is responsible for recruiting the people who recruited the rude staff? Who is responsible for ensuring that there are robust recruitment and disciplinary systems in place and who is responsible for recruiting that person? You keep going up until you reach the CEO. His/her fault!

3) Staff who don’t know where products are or how to carry out a service? Training is needed and again, who is responsible for that, one keeps going up until you reach the CEO!

4) Staff morale is low and they in turn provide poor service. Who is responsible for pay and conditions? Ultimately the CEO!

5) Staff don’t go the extra mile for a customer, they do the bear minimum. Who is responsible for putting in measures that make staff loyal to the company? That’ll be the CEO.

6) Sales go down because the CEO doesn’t care for his or her customers, just profits and this shines through all the way down through the ranks to the face to face staff because the brown mucky stuff starts from the top. Look at my posts about the previous Tesco CEO

If CEOs cared about what their customers wanted and listened to them they’d do what they want and the profits would follow. Just. Simple. Common. Sense. Not rocket science, common sense. So many a CEO got all the qualifications but sadly there is no qualification in common sense. Every company makes mistakes it is how they deal with the mistake that matters. That is down to the CEO too. Empower staff to make decisions, train them to make the right ones and the complaint won’t be escalated to the CEO. Simples. So many CEOs don’t see it.

Marcus Williamson, the editor of www.ceoemail.com wrote a guest post on why and when to contact the CEO here. Tips on complaining effectively to the CEO can be found here.

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Sainsbury’s nectar turns sour

Supermarket’s forthcoming trading figures may reflect disillusioned customers

Sainsbury's nectar turns sourFrom 11th April Sainsbury’s reduce their loyalty points on their Nectar card. This move from Sainsburys may save them money in the short term but in the long term it could hurt the supermarket hugely.

When Sainsburys announced this change last year it said that it would be making better and bigger offers, with more included in their double-up voucher scheme at Christmas. However, in reality the “double up points” scheme that was limited to £20 per department and many staff didn’t even know what was in and what was out of the offer with confusion around Christmas gifts and food. £20 limit on toys for a family of 4 isn’t very helpful either. I know I just kept going back and doubling up for alcohol! Very inconvenient for customers.

This sort of thing, reducing offers and making it complicated annoys customers greatly and for Sainsbury’s to increase their profits they need to be mindful of making things more difficult for customers if they want to develop loyalty. In glaring contrast, Tesco has the more developed reward scheme, with the most frequent doubling-up of value and range of items to spend points on. It also improved its voucher scheme for Christmas, having simplified the doubling-up process so customers could spend across departments with no limit. As you know, I have had several run ins with Tesco and people often ask why I still shop there. The loyalty scheme is right up there, I’ve saved hundreds of pounds using it making it much cheaper than other supermarkets overall.

In a benchmarking survey of 1,000 UK consumers, the marketing and data specialists GI Insight, found that companies in the supermarket sector are by far the most popular loyalty scheme providers, as more than three quarters of respondents are members of at least one supermarket loyalty programme. The supermarkets, in terms of the percentage of consumers who are members, remain active and recognise the brand’s ability to effectively analyse their data to deliver relevant and useful offers.

Supermarkets fighting the price wars and offering price matching need to find other ways of retaining and attracting customers. I think Mike Coupe is at risk of making the same mistakes as Clarke. Never mind all the analysis of this, that and the other, Tesco’s downturn in fortunes boiled down to one simple thing, Clarke didn’t listen to customers and that filtered through the company. With only an eye on growth and making more money he didn’t care about exiting customers and they left as a result.

Loyalty must work both ways
Customers flocked to social media when Sainsburys announced that they would be reducing the value of nectar points, making their feelings clear, with many customers saying that they would be leaving the supermarket. It will be interesting to see what the following quarter is like too, when the cut in loyalty points kicks in and if Coupe continues not to listen to customers. Perhaps it about time that supermarkets took on an ‘Every listen helps’ slogan”!

Should you wish to contact Sainsbury’s CEO, do so here.

What are your thoughts of the loyalty schemes?

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Warning about insurance procedures

Don’t be afraid to challenge insurance company procedures! If you feel someone has made a mistake they probably have. Xmas 2013 we sort of forgot a candle was burning! Luckily before it burnt the house down it only burnt through the table burning a couple of holes and scorching it in other places. I telephoned the Liverpool  and Victoria insurance company to request a claim form and was told that I would have to pay the £150 excess to the loss adjustor when he arrived. I don’t think so! As this was a customer service representative I decided to write to the CEO of the insurance company. So the correspondence went as follows:

23/01/14 emailed CEO informed him that we had been told that an Assessor would come and we would have to pay a cheque for £150 and this would be deducted from the amount paid out. Said what an appalling, outrageous and unfair system it appeared to be. We offered to send photos but this was declined. How on earth is anyone meant to make a decision about whether it is worth paying the excess and an increase in future premiums? You could look at the photos and give some indication, but this had been refused. Mentioned the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 as believed this to be an unfair commercial practice, misleading the consumer as to what they can expect. I attached the photos that were deemed unnecessary. “You may send an Assessor and deduct the excess from the settlement should we choose to take it” said I. Threatened the ombudsman and Small Claims Court. Did the trick.

24/01/14 response from someone in the CEO’s team stating that he would like to arrange an inspection of the table by their contractor’s Independent Inspections to see if the table can be restored. Offered us opportunity to arrange a report ourselves for which they would pay. Apologised that I was told I would need to pay the excess in the first instance, this should only be applied to a settlement.

28/01/14 emailed to say I had contacted restorers who said that just by looking at the photos they can see that the table is beyond repair and the quote for providing a report with details of how much it would cost to replace will be £35 plus VAT. I reiterated that I was categorically told that the cheque had to be paid before we agreed to settle. This was queried several times because it sounded so ludicrous. The customer services representative was adamant that the cheque had to be paid to the assessor and asked why this was. He clearly thought that this was the correct procedure so I was quite sure that this was not the first time it has been done and saw no reason why I should not take the matter further and expected redress for the inconvenience caused.


28/01/14 response to say go ahead with quote and that he would listen to the call and get back to me.

29/01/14 further email to say that I was correct and I had been advised as I said I had been! Oh whoopee do! Should I be pleased that they decided I wasn’t a liar?! He had discussed the matter with the handler and apparently there was some confusion. With building repairs, they would expect their contractors to arrange to collect an excess before carrying out repairs but this would usually be after they had inspected damage and assessed the approximate costs. The handler was informed of the error and a significant misunderstanding about the claims process was put right. How you confuse a building with a table I am unsure. The report was accepted I settled and took the £25 goodwill gesture for the inconvenience.

Insurance can be a minefield, whether house, vehicles or health! Most people have a story to tell. Don’t forget to use the tips on here for complaining and insurance is well covered in the book!

If you want to contact Liverpool and Victoria insurance company CEO you can do so here.

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Government hushes up critical consumer and trading standards reports

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has recently released two reports: “Consumer Empowerment Survey Report” and “The Impact of Local Authority Trading Standards in Challenging Times“. Neither report was given any press announcement or further comment from BIS ministers or other staff.

Consumer Empowerment Survey Report
This 95 page research study, carried out by GfK NOP Social Research, was designed to gain a better understanding of the attitudes of groups of consumers, and to build a stronger picture about their characteristics and engagement levels: particularly those consumers in vulnerable situations and/or on low incomes.

This report was finalised on the 15th March but not released by government until the 18th March. This was Budget Day. The report was given no press release or other coverage.

The report states that “…the market also requires empowered, active and informed consumers in order to flourish. Only then will the full benefits of competition – which include lower prices, greater innovation, efficiency and growth – be unlocked.

There is strong evidence that many consumers do not engage fully in their transactions;….. Whatever the barrier, it is the least engaged groups of consumers that are likely to miss out on the best deals, overpay for basic services, or even get ripped off”.

The report found that 57% of those surveyed said they felt very confident about making complaints post-purchase, but that only 32% were confident that the law would protect them.

A recent survey showed that fewer than 45% of people in the UK use their consumer rights and that only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly.

I’m not surprised by these findings of course, People frequently ask me about their legal rights, sometimes having heard of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and may even know that items have to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. But they have no idea how long “a reasonable length of time” is, or if they are entitled to a full refund or just a repair for example.

All these surveys and evidence show that a minority of the public know and assert their legal rights. People also cite time and effort as factors too. It takes more time and effort than it should, often because companies fob off the customer, so even the customers who have a passing knowledge of the Law don’t get the redress they are legally owed. Evidenced last week, when someone on Twitter was having trouble with a certain electrical goods retailer and their line on refund, repairs and replacement policy. When I joined in the conversation to help, the retailer blocked me! But Go to AO.com that’s what I say. Price match and if something goes wrong they deal with it properly and don’t try and fob you off. High praise indeed from me, yes!

The Impact of Local Authority Trading Standards in Challenging Times
The second report, “The Impact of Local Authority Trading Standards in Challenging Times” is dated February 2015, is 145 pages long has 6 recommendations and was released on the 20th March, again with little to no coverage.

The report explored the impact of budget cuts to local trading standards and tested the efficiency of services across the country. It said that changes had led to “a relatively weak, and probably diminishing, profile of trading standards, both within the public eye and within the local authority context.”

The loss of skills, knowledge expertise and the diminishing of these services in protecting consumers can only mean one thing. Increase in bad practice and decrease in protection for the consumer. The report even talks about staff who, in their own time carry out investigations because they feel it so important. Yet again the government relying on people’s good well to provide good services because decent people feel they have to do the extra. If they were treated better perhaps they would do more because they wanted rather than felt they had to. Bet that sounds familiar to NHS staff.

Timings 
It is incredible that the government commissions, at great expense these two reports and then appears to ignore them. One shows how little people know about their consumer rights and the other discusses the impact of cuts in Trading Standards, the reduction in inspections and support for the consumer with increasing bad practices in companies as Trading Standards struggles to undertake the necessary proactive work.

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World Consumer Rights Day 15th March 2015

Did you know? No, nor did I ’til recently and if it was news to me then hey there aren’t going to be many more people that know. How much press coverage is it getting? Not much? So far that I’ve seen not any, unless anyone would like to tell me differently?

Update – Which? sent a press release regarding healthy food in line with this year’s theme and the story was covered in the Daily Mail, Mirror and the Times but WCRD gets only a passing mention in the articles.

Background So where did this day come from? On 15 March 1962, President John F Kennedy gave an address to the US congress in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so, and the consumer movement now marks 15 March every year as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights. Hard to believe that a politician would be interested and support consumer rights huh? Yep, especially when you consider that this year the theme is healthy, affordable diets.

Healthy affordable diets Well let’s start with 1962 and John F Kennedy promoting consumer rights, internationally. Fast forward to 20teen years and the use of foodbanks (you may recall I challenged Iain Duncan Smith on these and he didn’t even know there was one in his own constituency). The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2013) GBD 2010 says that poor diets contribute to more than 11 million deaths annually and are now the number one global risk factor for death. Premature illness and disability from diet-related diseases impoverishes families, hurts productivity and bankrupts health systems.

To be fair, The Consumer Council in Northen Ireland is promoting the day  and is undertaking a survey to consumers’ thoughts on the affordability of a healthy, balanced diet. The results from this snapshot survey will inform research we’re undertaking in partnership with Food Standards Agency, Safefood, Ulster University and Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. But can you find anything in England, Scotland or Wales? If so please can you comment below so that  can put in the link! In the meantime government agencies and the media can be shown up as wanting to do little help in this area!

Changes needed Reducing salt consumption Reducing sugar consumption  Nutrition labelling on pre-packaged foods  Healthy food in schools

What we can do Well given my ongoing relationship with Tesco perhaps I shall keep on about this to them as well!

For more information on WCRD and the theme please go to Consumers International

Consumer Rights generally A recent survey showed that fewer than 45% of people in the UK use their consumer rights. Only 7% said that they know their legal rights well  and use them regularly. 5% know the basics of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.  But there are of course many other laws protecting consumers, including EU laws of which very people are aware.

To keep up to date with changes in consumer law (Consumer Bill coming late in the year, which amongst other things will replace the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982) and other consumer info sign up to the newsletter:

and of course if you need help in asserting your legal rights there are many tips here for complaining effectively and the up to date book on complaining effectively to always gain redress providing you with information, laws, advice, tips and templates can be found here.

 

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