Archive for the ‘Idiotic Management’ Category

Idiotic Management Award: John Hazell, Rocketism

Monday, July 30th, 2018

There are the clueless, who want your business and then there are the charlatans. Over the past month, a guy called John Hazell at a London marketing firm, Rocketism, has spam emailed me on five occasions. He doesn’t know me. The tone of his approach descends into increasingly passive aggressive suggestions about why I need him when I don’t respond and uniformed assertions about my business. This is a guy, who you cannot make it up ran a business, clearly unsuccessfully, called “Half Baked Ideas Ltd”, and insists on a comic strip personal photo on his website. He has held junior positions at EMI and he makes himself out to be a marketing genius for professional service firms! He is not that, he is an utter disgrace to his profession. Buyer beware.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management Award: Equiniti

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

This month’s Idiotic Management Award goes to Mark Taylor, Chief Customer Officer and his firm, Equiniti. A designated share dealing and management company for many of Europe’s leading multinationals, where the simple act of trying to sell share certificates online is a horrible customer experience. Disruptors bang on the doors of Investor Relations in companies like Royal Dutch Shell, GSK, InterContinental Hotels, Sky plc, they need you!

To enter your date of birth, requires 10 seconds clicking on a clock counter, cumbersome and duplicate data entry, regular error messages when you have entered the correct details directing you to call one of their customer representatives, where you are met with “your held in a queue, we are busy” and a 10 plus minute wait if you are lucky. You are then hit with a £45 minimum charge and asked to mail in certificates on the understanding the trade will happen the next day and settlement received two to three working days later. This is 2018, not 1988.

Customers expect both speed (responsiveness) and quality (experience). Are you “shopping” the simplest of customer experiences and making it near seamless? When I call your main telephone number, am I able to quickly communicate with the most relevant individual with minimal effort? When I scour your website do I find a very clear point of contact, who I can contact immediately and if they are not available my message is answered within 90 minutes or am I asked to jump through hoops? Does it reflect a professional and contemporary service image or like Equiniti something out of the “telex” age?

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management Award: UK Passport Office

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Here in the UK when renewing a new passport, the UK’s Passport Office insist on the application form being filled out and countersigned  in “black biro”, no blue black, and woe betide you if your handwriting should stray outside the tiny boxes provided. Rejection! At a cost of £287 for a family of four,  the experience of applying for a passport exudes extreme bureaucracy and frustration. Nearly three years into the fixed term tenure of Mark Thomson, formerly a Managing Director of the international arm of the UK’s Royal Mail, he has seemingly spent more time driving the burden onto the customer to infinitesimal detail and expense while the experience hasn’t improved one iota.

To what extent is the emphasis and energy on improvements in your own organisation over the next 12 months on “internal benefits” (reducing overhead) versus “external benefits” (customer)? Is that a productive and common sense use of scarce time and resources? If like Mark Thomson, you think your actions make sense, you rightly need to be removed from the job.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management: HSBC Lounge Key

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

In the rush to offer enhanced value to HSBC’s Premier customers, their Privileges Programme boldly announces a partnership with LoungeKey, a tech-driven airline lounge access provider. You are encouraged to register through multiple channels. Try doing it through mobile in the UK, and at the sixth attempt, you are denied. You are then directed to an online page, to try to figure out an alternative. Sorry, we don’t have the time. Has HSBC’s management ever shopped this partnership? If they have, they must concur that the user experience is a classic example of a failed partnership between a tech platform and an incumbent. If they haven’t, they are idiots.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management: British Telecom (BT)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

A call from a Jennifer Williams at BT, our broadband service provider’s security department, alerts us to suspicious activity. The call request details send us to their main customer telephone (30 minute wait) or their chat line function, hosted in some far fetched location, where you spend 30 minutes trying to get someone, who can input your account details accurately.  If BT’s management are truly serious about lowering the costs of fraud, and improved customer care, they would do well shopping their own business processes. They make the keystone cops look like MI5.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management: Britanic Industries, Newquay Town Council & Fistral Beach

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall is a world famous magnet for surfers. Yet a hidden danger with a shark’s bite lurks on arrival for the unsuspecting visitor, particularly foreigners. The car park is run by a ruthless management, Britanic Industries and its’ operator, Smart Parking, with zero interest for the visitor experience and for the express purpose of making hundreds of thousands in car parking penalties. In the height of season the local Town Council receives 40 complaints for unfair practices and doubtless 100s of people are ripped off daily. Visit Britain, the UK’s marketing arm has invested millions behind its’ “GREAT BRITAIN” campaign, yet the experience at Fistral Beach is designed to encourage a “HATE BRITAIN” thought in the mind of visitors.

The management of the large car park, Smart Parking, provide a perfect experience where the use of high technology enables a low touch customer experience. Reliant on camera sensors and nothing else, they keep electronic records of entry and exit to the car park. They daily fine innocent families, who are unable to find a car parking space in this half mile square beach, gather their beach equipment, walk 800 yards to the sole parking meter and have the right payment within 10 minutes. They rely on signs that don’t make clear payment is due from the time your car passed the entry sensor to the time you return to the car, pack up and physically pass the exit sensor, which can be half a mile from the place you are parked. They then issue penalty charge notices upto 16 days after the event, by which time you have no doubt destroyed the parking ticket if you have paid by cash. If you seek to Appeal, wait you are in for a 6 month determination of whether your claim is legitimate. You will receive the plaintiff, Smart Parking’s boilerplate template 24 page document, usually copied and pasted with hundreds of factual errors. It is death by a hundred shark bites.

If you think that this is a great way to encourage first time visitors, build tourism revenues and attract investment into a town, which outside of the holiday season has a number of severe social and economic issues, you are deluded. However that is precisely what the idiotic management of Britanic Industries, the leaseholder, think makes sense. Their decision-making process is flawed. The Newquay Town Council are impotent. Indeed the Mayor won’t even respond to written offers of help with smarter parking ideas.

Technology is a powerful enabler when it is used effectively to enable a higher touch customer experience (Uber, Amazon and Spotify). Equally, when it is used poorly it can have serious and catastrophic consequences.

Does your organisation’s decision-making process give sufficient thought to the desired outcomes, the benefits and risks of technology and the appropriate course of action? Does it solely look from your firm’s perspective or that of its’ customers? Fistral Beach has shown what happens when the sharks are left to run riot with technology and the lifeguard is asleep.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Idiotic Management: AXA Strategic Ventures

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

AXA Strategic Ventures: Least responsive corporate venturing start up. AXA, the French insurer announced with great fanfare in late February the formation of AXA Strategic Ventures. The intent being to invest in companies with the potential to shape the future of the financial industry. This is a highly competitive arena with billions of dollars being injected into early and mid-stage growth businesses by large organisations (Citi, HSBC, USAA, BBVA, Google, Intel and so on).

I brought to AXA’s attention an investment opportunity in an early-stage growth client of mine, which I reasonably felt might have a high potential fit with their publicly stated investment parameters. The General Partner responded with interest within 48 hours requesting a brief synopsis that was sent by return. Over a period of 3.5 weeks 5 offers of a “get to know you” call and an understanding of their interest went unanswered. Finally, a junior analyst responded with a polite but curt “no interest, please keep in touch”.

This is a well-staffed global organisation with a full complement of investment experts, business development and other resources. Why in the world do they think any discerning adviser or client is going to come knocking on their door when their more seasoned competitors provide a dramatically warmer welcome? How difficult is it for management to figure out that they need to proactively communicate in order to build a stronger brand and a point of differentiation with established competitors? It helps that management are exemplars for the desired behaviour and hold their subordinates to account.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.