Archive for February, 2010

Crafty Kraft or a longer term Own Goal?

I read in the news earlier about Kraft’s decision to continue with the closure of the Somerdale factory in Keynsham after the takeover of Cadbury. This was despite its alleged earlier indication that it would keep it open even though plans to close it were already well advanced.

It’s not just the 400 workers at this plant and their union representatives who understandably view Kraft’s actions as a “cynical ploy” and “cruel manipulation” purely to gain public support for what was from their view an unpopular bid – though the PR from that angle would be bad enough in itself.

Lord Mandelson has joined the fray by pointing out that Kraft’s CEO would have known a week ago what the announcement would be and should have been straight.

Let’s say Kraft is willing to take the employee and union backlash on the chin. What message does the company think it’s sending out to the business world? That it’s a company of its word? That you don’t have to ‘count your fingers’ after shaking hands with one of its representatives? That it actually cares what anybody thinks of it?

I have no idea what Kraft is like as a company to work for or do business with but I know what impressions it’s giving me – and I can’t be the only one thinking it’s actions are more than a little tacky.

It may have got its way in the short term but I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes back to bite it in the you-know-where down the line.

Moral of the story for the rest of us?

Business is business and it’s not all warm and fluffy – we know that. What I can’t understand is that Kraft seems to have ignored the fact that it takes time to build and nurture a reputation and only seconds to demolish it :-(…

What are your thoughts?

How would you describe You ‘Plc’?

Okay, so you run or work for a company. That may be a big part of you. Yet it’s not the whole story by a long shot, is it?
How often do you step back to get a perspective of the whole, great big picture and see how your work is serving what you want out of your life? When was the last time you came up for air and even thought about what you want out of life?

A client we ran this exercise with recently said:

“I now have a much better idea of how to allocate my time and energy to get to where I want to go.

The funny thing is that where I want to go is also clearer. This tool will
be something I will continue to use to review and evolve how my
purpose, passion and process are aligned.”

Worth you having a go?

By the way, regular visitors and followers will see we’ve just added the Tweet gizmo and applied it to earlier posts, too – it’ll be interesting (for us, anyway) to watch – and it adds colour to the site ;-)…

Did you say something BAD about me?

We often feature customer service here and the importance of getting it right – never more so than dealing with a customer complaint. Or even preventing a problem turning into a complaint… so I thought I’d share this with you…


A land line went down here the other day and I was having real hassle getting through to the telecomm provider to report it.

  • The recorded service I got through to (using a cable line) said it couldn’t run the test on the faulty line as it was busy… and suggested I call back…
  • The form on the website accepted all the details I inputted then wouldn’t process…
  • When I finally got through to a human being, English wasn’t her first language and she insisted on trying the web route again on my behalf – only to discover it wouldn’t register the fault…

I was eventually transferred to someone in the UK who manually logged the necessary information and started the process of sorting it out. From then on, I must admit in all fairness, it all happened pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, the interesting bit

Half an hour into this malarkey I was really getting hacked off, so I tweeted about it on Twitter, naming the company. Within about a further 20 minutes I had a direct tweet from its Care team inviting me to email them the info and they’d get on the case!

I did email them and thanked them for spotting my dilemma and offering to help. I also suggested they get the ‘powers that be’ at their (blue chip) company to phone in with problems/ use the website to try and solve them and see how they get on see how they like the experience.

Even when I received a follow up call the next day to check that everything was okay I still felt that they were playing catch up from a customer service viewpoint:

The competent human interaction should be there right from the first contact.

Now a question for You

What happens when a customer phones your company with a complaint?

PS: You Plc coming soon – Customer service happened to be more topical for me right now 😉

Employing young women

With recruitment issues way at the back of many companies’ minds in the current economy, this may seem like weird timing to raise the issue of the potential ‘risk’ involved in employing young women:

Will she decide to go off and have babies?
If she’s already a mother, what happens when one of her children is sick?

Some years ago I needed to recruit people (admittedly on a temporary basis) for a telephone marketing research project. It was my first in that role for the company and I decided to opt for 10 part timers rather than 5 full timers (there were good reasons for this – contact me direct to know more) and I was going to be a ‘model’ employer ;-): The best 5 males and the best 5 females would be taken on, trained and have a two-week trial period.

It was a tough one that entailed a) identifying and b) conducting a 45-minute telephone interview with plant directors/managers in specific industries across 3 European countries. The first stage was with English speaking participants though the team had the language capabilities to cover all 3 countries for the roll out.

As it turned out, none of the males ‘made the grade’ whereas all 5 females (including an artistic ‘resting’ film director and a down-to-earth mum of three who had never worked in an office before) were retained and went full time on the project, were introduced to the client and really ‘got into’ their part in the aims of the research. They bonded well as a team with the ‘mum’ naturally herding and taking on additional responsibilities, and each went on to work on further projects as and when their skills were required and they were available.

That didn’t mean that I never took on some smashing blokes to work on later projects, rather that my focus should have been on the best 10, regardless of gender, in the first place.

The point to this?

People will move on; their priorities will change, as will their circumstances. Employers can’t predict when and why. We can only willingly take the opportunity to work with the best as and when it presents itself to us, for as long as it lasts.

I want to give credit to a post I saw earlier today that started off this particular stream of thought: Is it too risky to employ young women? and suggest a mosey over there would be worthwhile – you’ll see input from different and interesting angles and viewpoints…


Next up: I think it’s time to look at You Plc (unless something extremely topical alters my tack… ;-))

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