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Month: March 2009

HSBC: Failing to communicate with a customer

HSBC: Failing to communicate with a customer

HSBC logo

I’m having a horrible customer experience at the moment with HSBC Malta. I currently have life insurance policy with them with a premium that needs to be paid at the end of January. I didn’t get a notice for them that I needed to pay my premium so I contacted them at the end of January. It’s taken them 2 months so far and I still don’t know what my payment should be. Only now they contacted me to tell me that as I haven’t paid my premium they are suspending the policy. I’ve contact them no less than 8 times in this period and they still haven’t managed to get the message that all I’m trying to do is pay for my insurance. I’m not ready to look for a new term insurance quote yet, but I’m getting pretty close to it.

It’s interesting to note that my original communication on the 28th of January actually has a case number on the reply, so it’s not like they don’t have the systems to cater for their client’s needs. It’s just that they don’t seem to be using them; or don’t care about using them. It’s a crying shame; because an experience like this can really turn a customer sour and they could end up blogging about their bad experiences. Anyway I’ve written them a letter explaining the circumstances and when I’ve tried to contact them. I’ll keep you all posted about whether I manage to get to the bottom of it.

Reading the classics

Reading the classics

I managed to get my hands on a couple of classic “management reading” books a few days ago. These are:

  • Who moved My Cheese: A timeless allegory reveals profound truths to individuals and organizations dealing with change. We each live in a “Maze”, a metaphor for the companies or organizations we work with, the communities we live in, the families we love places where we look for the things we want in life, “Cheese”. It may be an enjoyable career, loving relationships, wealth, or spiritual peace of mind. With time and experience, one character eventually succeeds and even prospers from the change in his “Maze”.In an effort to share what he has learned along the way, he records his personal discoveries on the maze walls, the “Handwriting on the Wall”. Likewise, when we begin to see the “writing on the wall”, we discover the simplicity and necessity of adapting to change.
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: A a self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. It has sold over 15 million copies in 38 languages since first publication, which was marked by the release of a 15th anniversary edition in 2004. The book lists seven principles that, if established as habits, are supposed to help a person achieve true interdependent effectiveness. Covey argues this is achieved by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he believes to be universal and timeless.

They’re two books I’ve been meaning to read for some time and thanks to a trial offered by US Unlocked, a service that allows you to shop in the US and get your products delivered to Europe, I’ve managed to acquire these books for my library. It’s a great service that provides you with a US based payment card and US based address so you can buy anything from microprocessors to grow lights and have them shipped all the way to your home.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to some reading time this weekend!

Onstar: Leveraging new technologies for market penetration

Onstar: Leveraging new technologies for market penetration

OnStar Corporation

Here’s an interesting blend of technologies. OnStar, the GM in-vehicle technology for car-person integration is supporting integration to Twitter, allowing car drivers to Tweet from the comfort of their cars using voice recognition. I personally have a Garmin GPS unit in my car, but it doesn’t even do voice recognition.

It’s a great geeky use of technology, but to me it also represents a car manufacturer using technology to try and differentiate it’s offering from that of it’s competitors. This will attract two segments; those who really love technology and want to play with it; but also those those who respect the fact that GM is looking for ways to enhance their driving experience.

Great work from GM .. I love seeing companies innovate where no one else has innovated before.

Plummeting Interest Rates

Plummeting Interest Rates

I’ve just got a promotional email from one of the internet banks I bank with and it interestingly had a table showing the drop in Bank of England interest rates over the last year:

Bank of England Base Rates

Effective from Base rate
10 April 2008 5.00%
8 October 2008 4.50%
6 November 2008 3.00%
4 December 2008 2.00%
8 January 2009 1.50%
5 February 2009 1.00%
5 March 2009 0.50%

It must be pretty distressing for people living off their savings, as the drop means that their income has dropped drastically. But it is good news for people with mortgages, especially people who are now on negative interest rates. This came about from banks offering mortgages at 0.5%, even 1% below base rate 2 years ago. This made sense back then, but now it technically means that the bank should be paying them for borowwing the money. How crazy is that.

The thing to do here however is to maintain your mortgage payments. Instead of paying off interest you pay more of the capital; with the net result that you shorten the life of your mortgage. Personally, I’ve tried pushing my mortgage payments back up to what they were in the beginning and so far I’ve knocked 5 years off my 25 year mortgage.

Now to go see if I can find myself one of these negative rate mortgages. If you can get one of those mortgages, you might just be able to invest in that super yacht and retire for life.

The ease of buying online

The ease of buying online

Technology has come forward leaps and bounds in the last few years and as more retailers make the leap to the online world, there’s more and more choice online. The reason behind the thought is that my wife recently bought a vacuum cleaner online. She didn’t give more than a cursory glance the the local retailers and popped straight online. Price was one reason, but the main driver was the sheer choice of vacuums that she could choose online.

She ended up buying it from Tesco; We do have a local Tesco store, but they don’t carry the same selection that are available online; again driving her online. I guess it’s only a matter of time before online choices become so compelling that bricks and mortar operations feel the squeeze. Actually, I daresay they’re already being affected but I suspect the effect will become more profound and, well, fatal.

Time will tell, but the reality is, unless retailers start taking immediate action in building relationships with their clients and giving them what they really want, they’re going to struggle to survive.

Creating a Social Media Plan

Creating a Social Media Plan

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  Jocelyn Taub, a job-h...

I came across an interesting post the other day that puts together an action plan of how one should tackle a new social media engagement, specifically around a marketing engagement. Here are the steps it defines:

  1. Understand what social media is: First of all you need to learn about social media and the different channels that make it up. Remember that these change over time. Twitter wasn’t important a year ago and who know what will be next year.
  2. Understand what social media can and can’t do: It’s not a magic bullet that can cure all ills, and it’s very hard to get a hard ROI off it. Understand what benefits you’re looking for, whether it’s conversion or just brand awareness and apply them to the medium,
  3. Determine where conversations are happening: Put some effort into analysing the ecosystem. There are a number of social media monitoring tools out there that you can use to understand where conversations are happening.
  4. Divide .. : Decide which social networks you’re going to target. Based on capabilities, usage and profiles this will be a selection rather than the whole set.
  5. and Conquer: Implement your strategy across the channels you have selected and using the mechanisms you have decided. Remember that each channel is different and what works in one may not work in another. Don’t forget to define what you consider a success in each channel.
  6. Trust in the Force: Social engagement is all about Trust. You need to gain this from your channels and it’s awfully easy to lose. So be sincere and honest in your relationship as this is the key to your success.

These steps are important whether you’re promoting Britney Spears or just trying to sell social security disability online, and following a plan is always better than jumping in without looking.

Some interesting ideas in there. What do you think?