Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meeting Tom Peters at last!

Two weeks ago I had the immense pleasure of meeting Tom Peters in London. For over 20 years I have followed Tom's writing and at last this was an opportunity to come face to face with him.

A meeting I will remember for a long time. What a gentleman he is!

I am sorry not to have been able to post this picture until now but at long last our Internet connection is up and running so better late than never.

Almost there!!!

Well, here we are at last …. Wednesday, and we have received, as promised, the hardware we need from BT Internet to re-connect to the Internet. We now just have to wait till 8pm today before trying to connect.

Fingers crossed and God willing we will be up and running fully once more tomorrow, Thursday, and we are excited about being back in touch properly with all our friends and business contacts round the globe after 37 days without our home Internet connection thanks to WANADOO.

No more trips to the library although I must say the ‘customer care’ we have received from the 3 libraries in the town we have had to visit almost every day for the last five weeks and two days has been good.

Libraries are a great place in the local community and I have to say that in the past I have ‘under-used’ and certainly ‘under-appreciated’ what an excellent service libraries offer to the local community.

I intend to compile an e-mail to the local authority Chief Executive complimenting the staff of all 3 libraries. The staff at one of the 3 libraries are particularly excellent and the service from all three is well above average compared with many of my recent customer care experiences in the commercial world. Once more I ask myself ‘Who says public services cannot deliver exceptional customer service just like the private sector?’

I have the article in my head that will be my reflections of the last 37 days. I intend to write something in the next couple of weeks with this title


Watch this space ….

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Respect your customers - PLEASE!!!

As we get closer to reconnecting with our many friends and business colleagues around the world next week I have had time to reflect a lot about the almost 6 weeks of hell that we have experienced due to Wanadoo.

I have begun writing an article about customer care … or more accurately the total lack of customer care in 2006. What does customer care actually mean today?

This article will obviously be informed largely by my recent experience with Wanadoo but also informed by a trend I have definitely noticed in the last year or two as a customer in all aspects of my life.

It just seems to me that:

1 Some organisations ‘get it’ and they deliver phenomenal customer care. I of course tell all my contacts.

2 There are those ‘other’ organisations where I experience ‘crap’ customer care and I tell all my friends and business associates about them too.

I cannot understand ANY organisation in 2006 that does not place customer care on top of their agenda.

It is so obvious why that is important. Namely that we live in a world where information crosses the planet in nano-seconds and in my opinion a ‘bad’ customer experience travels far more quickly than a good one across the ‘virtual’ world.

Organisations that bury their head in the sand and do not have a pro-active approach to customer care will go under. There is nothing more certain than that. And they deserve it.

Good organisations do not need to be told how to do customer care properly – they do it as part of their culture.

Bad customer care reflects a bad organisation.

Yes I do believe it is that simple.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Light at the end of the tunnel .... and 'we told you so'

Latest update on IT problems:

We should be back to normal by Thursday of next week having switched to a new provider BT Internet and finally saying goodbye with absolutely no regrets and indeed a bitter feeling toward Wanadoo.

Ironically we have now discovered our next-door neighbours (also Wanadoo customers) have had precisely the same problem since precisely the same time as us and also a few other local people who are Wanadoo have had the same problem since the same date which is 24 April 2006.

Wanadoo have given our neighbours the identical pathetic excuses and denials they gave us for the last four weeks. Wanadoo keep on insisting there is a problem with lines and wireless routers and in fact anything that is not to do with Wanadoo! WE NOW KNOW BETTER!

One thing you will have noticed is that I have been unable to post pictures for the last three weeks - this is not allowed for some reason from my local library pc’s but from next Thursday I hope to be able to brighten up Simplicity Blog with pictures again.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Life is too short to work with jerks"

The day I spent in Tom Peters Master class yesterday (Wednesday) in London was just amazing.

I have long held on to an ambition of 25 years to see Tom in action ‘live’ as it were and there are very few human beings who could retain my attention for over 6 hours in a day.

Tom spoke in 4 sessions of 90 minutes each with a short refreshment break between them and a lunch hour.

There were many Peters ‘gems’ and it is hardly fair to try and summarise such a wonderful day in a few words. Suffice to say that he held the attention of an audience of 500 people all day.

It was great to hear Tom talk passionately about how ‘Excellence’ has come back into the vocabulary of management 25 years after ‘In Search of Excellence’ his first book.

I was delighted to hear his rants about healthcare and how hospitals are unhealthy places to be. His strong language about ‘killing people’ in hospitals may have upset some people. Those who know Tom’s work will realise he uses such emotive language to emphasise his point. He does not hold back when criticism is justified and many times during the day he pleaded for people who disagreed with his views to challenge him about them. It was very significant that no one among the 500 senior business executives took up the challenge.

Whether people like Tom Peters or not is immaterial really. One thing you have to say about Tom is that he will make you think. He forces you to question many of your assumptions and he will try to alert you to the current challenges we all face in the business world.

I made many notes during the day and searching through them I came across two that are probably my favourites.

Number One

“I am often asked - How long does it take to become excellent? The answer is 1 minute – excellence is a commitment to yourself”

Number Two

‘Life is too short to work with jerks’

I say Amen to both of those profound yet simple thoughts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - Victor Hugo 1852

I find it it amazing how one can re-prioritise when FORCED to.

I think Victor Hugo is right!

A couple of weeks ago I was depressed about the lack of access to the Internet and as a result I was worried about being unable to keep up the fast pace I tend to work at. My ‘virtual networking’ around the world is my bread and butter.

As the days and now weeks have passed I have been forced to reorganise my work to cope with the circumstances that have been forced upon me. As a result I have been able to keep on top of urgent work by regular visits to free Internet access at my local libraries and in addition I have been using the phone more thus making direct verbal contact.

It seems to me we must always remain sure that however bad things look, there is always ‘another way’ and most of all there is always hope.

This has made me think once more about how resilient we have to be in the world of business and organisations as things that are outside our direct control have a huge impact on our work and thus our life. We have to develop new answers to the old questions and this keeps us on our toes and so I believe this can be seen as good for us – however bad it feels sometimes. Was it John Major who said there is no gain without pain?

Of course no one wants to have these forced changes thrust upon us but sometimes life is like that and we have absolutely no choice and no control. My feeling is that this can and should be seen as another challenge that can be overcome and who knows we may actually find that our new style will be better than our old style.

The last four weeks has forced me to re-assess how I work. I have learned about priorities and making sure that in the limited time I have available on the internet I am clear and very focused about the ‘must be done’ and the ‘it would be nice to do.’

Enough of this rambling … I will soon be convincing myself this Internet disaster I have experienced for over 4 weeks has been good for me!!!

Back to work my Man!!!!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tom Peters - 'Finding !nspiration'

On Wednesday 17th May I am going to the Hilton London Metropole to see Tom Peters Master class “Finding !nspiration”

Tom is speaking in the ‘all day’ seminar made up of 4 sessions each of about 90 minutes. This is an event I have been looking forward to immensely and I know I will learn a lot.

The first book that Tom Peters wrote in the early 1980’s was In Search of Excellence, which became a management classic – the best selling management book ever. I first read that book in 1983 and it inspired the ambition inside me to write my own book, which happened with the publication of Simplicity is the Key in 2005.

I am honoured that Tom has corresponded with me personally a few times in the last year or so and I hope to meet him briefly on Wednesday.

I will report of the event later this week and I just know it will be brilliant!

Who knows? – maybe even a photo of the great man!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

WANADOO - No 'emotional connection'

Latest report from my local library!!!!

As the days have passed I keep telling myself I am learning through this enforced absence from the Internet.

I am definitely going to find time to write an article about the experience we have had including the following:

  • The appalling ‘customer service’ from the Wanadoo ‘customer service’ department
  • The failure to deliver by Wanadoo staff on promised ‘phone back’ calls
  • The abysmal ‘care’ shown by Wanadoo technical department and the ‘feeling’ of being dealt with by a checklist operated by people acting as robots who are unable to show even the slightest initiative
  • I would love the Chief Executive of Wanadoo to have experienced the service we have experienced in the last three weeks and ask him or her self “Am I happy with that?”

I have come to the conclusion there just is no emotional connection between Wanadoo staff and their customer. Not one person in Wanadoo that I have spoken to in the last 20 days has made me feel like a valued customer.

I think if I was in charge of Wanadoo I would be ashamed of the service offered. Frankly however I don’t think they even care!

There is something in this expression ‘emotional connection’ that I want to explore more.

Watch this space ..More to follow ….

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" Leonardo da Vinci

"Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple"C.W. Ceran

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler"Albert Einstein

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity"Charles Mingus

"The aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity"Prof. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Another Two Weeks!

We have completely lost faith in out Internet Provider Wanadoo and have now arranged to change to BT Internet.

This has been brought about through a total lack of faith and confidence in WANADOO for their apalling customer service and technical service.

We decided that although being with BT will cost a few more pounds per month we will have the back up of a large company that will provide us with peace of mind if this sort of crazy situation ever recurs.

I am learning so much through this experience and will write it all up in an article just as soon as I get chance.

In the meantime I visit the library most days to keep on top of important business e-mails.

I am missing my regular Blogging and this last two weeks has brought home to me just how crucial the new technology is for networking and keeping in touch.

Our new BT connection will be available on 22 May when I hope we will be up and running 100% and in the meantime I will try hard to keep posting two or three times a week on my visits to the library!

I have made another great contact with Mathew Scott through Blogging and please take a look at Mathew's Blog at this link

Friday, May 05, 2006

Horror upon Horrors

We are still not connected to the Web after 12 days!

This is getting serious now and the only way I can keep my head above water is to go to my local library every day to simply answer the most important business e-mails. That is the limit of my activity on the Web and I am beginning to realise just how important the Web is to my business.

I desperately miss being able to 'network' electronically every day. I am missing out on the usual high level of communication I enjoy across the world through the electronic airway!!

Some serious investment is required to get us back up and running and at the moment it looks like being another week before we will be fully operational again.

I am learning through this.....