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1279448_Wincor-Self-service-checkout---NEW_cmykI guess we all do it. We’re all consumers and we all have opinions. So we’re inclined to think that we’re representative of the population at large when it comes to experiencing products and services.

My latest gripe is self-service checkouts. I understand them. They’re about supermarkets and other stores saving money and, in theory, reducing checkout queues. Problem for me is that they do seem to penalise the shopper who only buys one or a few items.

That’s because the self-service checkout experience comes with an overhead which doubles or more the time taken. I really don’t need all the questions or special offers I just want to buy a few items and often it’s just one. And I would prefer not to have to wait for a someone to come over and allow the equipment to continue with my transaction. I am a few years older than the threshold for buying alcohol.

My particular gripe is when I buy a newspaper with a voucher.  Why can’t it be simply scan newspaper, scan voucher? But no. I also need to push 4 buttons and wait for a cashier to come and approve the voucher.

Is there somebody out there who can address this?

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This is not a perfect model. It’s not even complete. And because of where I am it’s coloured by what I see in the health economy in the UK. But maybe it does shed some insights. Continue Reading »

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To state the obvious your brand name is who you are not what you do.

I’m minded to write this because the gym I use has just changed hands and the new owners have seen fit to change its name. I’m puzzled that they should do that because it was an still is a stand alone business and presumably as its been bought there is now some goodwill on the balance sheet. This goodwill reflects the business’s customer base and the reasons behind its loyalty. Continue Reading »

Sometimes companTrusties really surprise you by exceeding your expectations and delivering service which you did not expect.

I lost my power cables for my laptop so ordered another one online. It said that the one I’d ordered would work on my breed of laptop and in fact it came with 10 different fittings. Problem is none of them did; work that is.

However in the documentation which of course nobody generally reads because it’s usually just health and safety information in 24 languages was a ‘quick installation guide’. Nothing much it could say really beyond plug into computer, plug into wall but there was a big footnote:

If the power adaptor is not working, get a compatible connector for your notebook (for FREE) at ‘trust.com/17469/freeconnector

I did. I filled in an on-line form and within hours got a reply promising to send me the correct adaptor and apologising (!) that it would take a few days because it was being mailed from the Netherlands and not the UK.

It came this morning and now I’m powerful again. Or at least my laptop is.

So full marks to Trust!

I’ve been working with Milner Strategic Marketing for about 6 months now and I’m really pleased with the reception that I’ve been getting when I talk to companies in Cambridge about what Milner does.

Several companies have asked for help in developing strategies for growth and in addressing the challenges that this brings. We have developed the Milner Masterclass program to respond to this.

The Milner Masterclass program is presented by Milner in partnership with the St John’s Innovation Centre and features several class-leading practitioners who will deliver seminars on topics relevant to successful, ambitious companies. The program for the first four seminars is:

27 Feb Establishing a winning strategy to build your company’s value Nick Milner Milner Strategic Marketingwww.milnerltd.com
27 Mar Lead your leaders: how to get the best from your leadership team David Sales First Ascentwww.firstascentgroup.com
24 Apr How to build and protect your brand. Making it visible world-wide Julius Stobbs Stobbs IPwww.stobbsip.com
27 May Funding: do you have enough? How to make sure Lake Falconer PEMwww.pem.co.uk

There will be other seminars in June and July and after the summer.

The Masterclass program is designed for those in leadership positions in their companies, for investors and for senior advisors.  At each seminar there will be plenty of time for questions, for networking and to meet others with similar challenges.

It’s a monthly program with each seminar running on the 4th Thursday of the month. They start at 1800 so that they don’t eat into the working day and allow time for people from outside Cambridge to travel and attend.

To register click here or go to lnk.to/milnermasterclass

There’s more information about the Milner Masterclass program and the presenters on the Milner website: www.milnerltd.com/events.

imagesCA8R9FZ1 convenience storeWe’re fortunate in the village where I live. We’ve got four convenience stores and two of these anchor the High Street. They’re the local stores of two big nationals and come from the two extremes of the corporate spectrum: one’s a an example of expansionist capitalist success, the other has its roots in worker solidarity.

Today being Sunday I was off to collect my croissants for breakfast and my Sunday paper. I usually go to one, the nearer one, but sometimes it lets me down so I go to the other. Not a big deal they’re only 200m apart. Today they both failed me.

First stop no papers. Why not? Because they haven’t come. But why? Well maybe ‘they’ got their dates mixed up (the store is closing for a refit tomorrow).

Now given that picking up your Sunday papers is a ritual for many people and you’d like to make sure that they keep coming back to you you’d expect a rather more proactive response wouldn’t you? There are three full-sized versions of this convenience store within a 15 minute drive. Why couldn’t the store manager have covered his shortage with a little help from one of them?

So I’m off to the second one which has just had a refit. Actually I could see little difference after the refit except that the papers were no longer by the door but as far back as you could imagine. Whose convenience was that for? Certainly not the person who simply pops in for a paper.

At stop number two there were no croissants. When I asked an assistant went into the back and emerged with one. Will there be more? Don’t know. Not really terribly helpful. Now I don’t know what the incremental cost of a croissant is but I’d bet that it’s only pence compared with a selling price of 74p. If they’ve sold out by soon after 0800 you’d have thought an extra session in the bakery would be worthwhile

So It’s back to store number one for my croissants.

It’s hardly the end of the world but it does highlight these stores indifference to the minor inconveniences which they may cause you. It’s OK to not have newspapers because its our system which chose not to supply them and it’s OK to run out of croissants because we only decided to bake a limited number. The fact that local people ‘depend’ on the convenience of these stores to deliver and be dependable doesn’t seem to be a part of the equation. Surely such stores want their customers to keep coming back and not to have to go to the competitor down the street. In which case they must think more about their customers’ convenience and be a little more obsessive about (a) their dependability; and (b) the response they give when they fail.

So: convenience stores, whose convenience?

ParkAndRideSignOxford20050910I learnt my marketing in the chemicals business. I was at the specialty end but a lot of what I sold was in a competitive market and price was an important tool of the trade. And we never made price decisions lightly. Continue Reading »