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This is where you'll find an eclectic mix of what makes me tick. Suffolk based, pig rearing (sometimes Vegan). If it's not online it doesn't exist. Bandwidth is a basic human right.

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    I admit: I can’t afford to ignore the Facebook wave.

    Do yourself a favour and please watch just the first 4 minutes of this and then read what I have to say about Digital Tomorrow Today’s Course that I am attending.

    The YouTube above I saw live a few weeks back at the jam packed Royal Fesitival Hall. Benioff ('s CEO) asked us whether there was any reason why Software for the Enterprise shouldn't be more like Facebook.

    What staggered me is the statistic he opened with:
    To reach 50 million users:

    Radio took 38 years;

    TV took 13 years

    Internet took 4 years

    Facebook did it in 5 months. “

    I’ve lagged behind many people in my use of Facebook but, after hearing what Benioff has said I need to change my ways. Sure, Twitter for me is my network of choice but Facebook is a force to contend with just on the numbers alone. Facebook’s reach and adoption cannot be ignored. I find it fiddly though. Maybe because I haven’t invested enough time in Facebook so I have decided to fast-track my learning by attending Digital Tomorrow Today’s course Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare and more - How to harness the wider social networks for business success hosted by Jamie Riddell. I met Jamie through Twitter and we live just up the road from each other and have much (especially in the Digital space) in common so guess, by way of disclosure, we’re friends.

    I have enrolled on the course  as I want to start understanding the power Facebook can have in the hands of a business user. I have to say I really need to get up to speed with how to build and maintain pages and all the tips and tricks that I just know Jamie will be able to share. My sister runs a small business called Melrose and Mutt and she is pretty excited to be going to the course this Thursday.  As far as I understand- she’ll be able to place an ad only under the noses of dog owners in the UK or if she chooses just a particular segment of the dog owning population. That’s just a simple example of the power Facebook offers communicating with your target audience.

    Jamie’s holding the course on two dates in Suffolk (which incidentally is just over an hour out of London Liverpool Street Station) and you should get your tickets early.

    I’m going to the later one in November. I don’t think you should miss it!

    Tags Early Adopter Word of Mouth Facebook Tools Disclosure Suffolk

    John Lewis: our relationship is over (open letter)

    Dear John

    I have always loved and respected your John Lewis brand. In the past its commitment to customer service has always magnetised me. We had our wedding list at yours. We decked all our halls with John Lewis bought regalia when our children were born. You always gave me the benefit of the doubt when something wasn’t right for me or when it didn’t work. No quibble- the customer was always right. That approach bought my loyalty and our relationship was a mutually happy and fruitful one. Then it all changed.

    When we renovated our kitchen last year we bought a new cooker, and Miele larder fridge. If I recall we spent close to £4000 with you including a few other bits for the kitchen.

    I tried to delay the delivery of the cooker because our kitchen wasn’t ready. Your call centre staff told me to phone Britannia cookers. I was confused. The cooker I bought was a John Lewis Brand- its pictured with John Lewis emblazoned on its frontage. I asked who Britannia was and you told me I had bought a Britannia cooker. This was news to me. I then was given a number to call at Britannia and they couldn’t help me delay the delivery presumably because they weren’t as committed to their customer as you, John, used to be.

    The cooker arrived and remained boxed-up for a couple of weeks and when we opened it up and had it installed it didn’t work. It was dead on arrival. Again I called you up and you told me you couldn’t help me and that I should phone Britannia. I had to shout at Britannia to get them to help me and even after shouting at them they could only send an engineer 10 days later just before having to cook Christmas dinner.

    Now it’s a repeat of that experience. There is a fault with our Miele fridge. Its only 10 months old. I thought Miele was a premier brand. When I phoned you, John, you told me you couldn’t help me and that I should contact Miele directly. You didn’t even give me a number to call. You were open that Sunday afternoon to take my call but Miele wasn’t. So I logged a ticket on Miele’s website on Sunday afternoon and on Tuesday I still hadn’t heard from Miele so I called them. They had no record of the web tickets I had logged on Sunday. All they could do is promise to send someone around in two weeks time. Two weeks time? For a 10 month old premier brand that wasn’t working?

    What has happened to you John? Why do you think I bought the fridge from you? I could have bought it from anyone for a very similar price but I chose you because i thought you cared. You used to take ownership of me as a customer; you use to nurture and protect our special relationship. I complained to you John, and was told that it was better for me to contact Miele as it removed the intermediary and when it comes to diary scheduling it was more efficient. That part I may agree with but why didn’t you get Miele to call me? Why did you leave it to me to end up fighting with Miele who after all that fuss, managed to improve their service time by a full week at the expense of my blood pressure.

    I gave you my money John not Britannia or Miele. You convinced me to buy that fridge with all your classy marketing and with the brand promise that I had encountered in the past. Why have you suddenly entrusted the service delivery to people you don’t manage or control? Why have you passed the buck to people who don’t care about the things I used to value in our relationship?

    Miele has let you down, John, because they don’t care the way I think you still do. They have caused you to lose me as a customer. I am writing to you hoping to hear about the steps you are now going to take to change this

    You have to own and control the entire customer experience otherwise don’t fool yourself about your ability to retain your customers

    Let’s just be friends.


    UPDATE: Response from John Lewis that came in same day, before close of business. I mark them 10/10 - text book answer and felt sincere. This means they do still care but I shall remain skeptical until proven otherwise. There is still no case (no matter what the logistics) for letting someone else deal with your customer. The *only* reason people continue to deal with John Lewis is that they make a difference on a customer service level. They should never forget this.

    I have remove the writer’s name and email address to ensure that readers channel their complaints through the correct Customer Complaint procedure (detailed on their website). My experience is that its a process that works.


    Dear Mr Melrose,

    I was sorry to receive your e-mail in relation to the manner in which we have managed things for you recently. It was concerning and disappointing to read about the service you received when you called to report an issue with your cooker and Miele larder fridge.

    First of all please allow me to convey my sincere apologies for any inconvenience we have caused you. Here at John Lewis Direct we endeavour to provide a first class service to all our customers and I apologise this was not the service you have received.

    At John Lewis, we are reliant on some of our stock coming directly from our manufacturers and being delivered by their couriers. This allows us to achieve our aim of offering a wide range of products to customers all over the United Kingdom, as efficiently as possible.

    Whenever we require one of our suppliers to deliver or organise a repair on our behalf we expect them to provide the same high level of care and service our customers expect when they order from John Lewis. That being said however, I completely agree that John Lewis is fully responsible for your order and any aftersales issue.

    As you have been advised, we do feel that it can be more beneficial and quicker, for our customer if they deal with the manufacturer directly as a convenient date for delivery/repair can be agreed between both parties. When a query is raised with our online customer services team (as you did in this instance) this is passed on to our customer support team, for them to contact the manufacturer on our customers behalf and arrange a date for delivery/repair.

    I do wish to stress here however, that I am in no way trying to justify or make an excuse for the service you received. I find it completely unacceptable for our apparent refusal and unwillingness to help when you called, first to report the fault with the larder fridge and especially when Miele were quoting you a time of two weeks before they could send round an engineer.

    Please be assured that I will be speaking with the agents you have spoken to and will express my disappointment at their handling of your order. I will also be highlighting the issues you have raised with the manager of these agents to prevent this situation from happening again and where necessary, additional training will be provided.

    Our staff should be aware that customers are within their rights to refuse to deal with the manufacturer directly and in these cases,  if there is any issue with the service being provided by the manufacturer, then John Lewis will offer our full support in an attempt to get the issue resolved swiftly. I am genuinely sorry and embarrassed that this was not your experience when you called.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to write to us, to highlight your concerns, and I trust that I can at least reassure you that your comments will be instrumental in allowing us to improve the service we provide to other customers and, I hope, to you in the future.
    Should you have any further issues then please do not hesitate to contact me on 01236 634 681 or alternatively by replying to this e-mail.

    Yours sincerely,

    Customer Relations Manager
    John Lewis Direct

    Tags Customer Service Fail Word of Mouth

    Mark Shaw: “Why I am not following you on Twitter”

    I first discovered Mark Shaw from one of Francoise Murat’s Retweets drawing my attention to one of his blogposts: “Why I am not following you on Twitter" which frankly is a good piece although its certainly not fresh content.

    I read his blog and then looked at his Twitter profile and read a little more about him on his site. The first thing I noticed from his homepage was his claim to be : of the UK’s leading Twitter experts….

     That ration looks a little unbalanced to me.Then I re-read the blogpost in question (after I noticed he has almost 60 times more followers than people he chooses to follow). I still took absolutely no exception to any advice he gives, yet felt uneasy about this “Twitter expert”. Then I reread the blog title “Why I am not following you on Twitter” that now felt incongruous. Still not being able to put my finger on it, I drilled down into the comments on the post and Stuart Flatt’s comment provided my bingo-moment:

    So Mark, you are actually saying there are only 220 people on the whole of twitter who meet your criteria?

    May I be so bold as to say you you only follow people if you believe there is something in it for you?

    I just read one level of your tweets. And you only have self promotions and @ replies. Again most of the @ replies are talking about yourself or something you have tweeted.

    I had a poke around Mark’s twitter stream and sure enough: Stuart’s spot on:  Mark seems to, most often only engage in conversation with people who initiate conversation with him. Either that or he’s trying to initiate a conversation with an A-List tweep or promote his own business

    Why am I writing this blogpost? Everyone is free to follow who they choose, and I have nothing personal against Mark as I know he puts a lot of effort into helping people in his follower base but that, afterall, is his business and he earns a living from doing it. But all this prompts me to remind myself that Twitter is a community tool. Twitter doesn’t change the rules of community. In the offline world community rules have existed since the year dot. The rules touch the way in which we socialise, listen, help, & recommend. For community to work, it needs to be a bilateral exchange. To me community isn’t only about listening for your name to be called out and then responding. Its not about trying to wrestle in front of the influencers and its also not about trying desperately to be an influencer. Its about having an awareness about the community around you. In my opinion, you can’t do that when you’ve got 12,836 people aware of what you’re saying and only being aware of 222, that’s called one-way arrogance (in my book). As I said in the comments on Mark’s blogpost, celebrities like Duncan Bannatyne get away with it because they don’t write blog posts entitled “Why I am not following you on Twitter”

    And that’s why, Mark,  I am not following *you* on Twitter.

    Tags Twitter Soapbox Twitter Etiquette Word of Mouth

    Tweet with integrity: disclose your interest.

    Since moving from London to Suffolk I have used Twitter to meet people, consume local products and services and help out where I can.

    One of the reasons I rate Twitter so highly is the positive impact it has on our family life through the “Word of Mouth” (WOM) recommendations and advice we continue to receive from our network of followers.

    However, as I’ve seen Twitter grow and as I’ve become more acquainted with my Twitter community, I am increasingly concerned that the integrity of the WOM value may be under threat.

    The internet in general relies on openness and transparency. Twitter is no different and these two qualities are the bedrock of Trust and Credibility on which the value of WOM depends. The internet has given us a tremendously powerful platform and most would advise to make full and clear disclosure of who you are and who you work for before using it to communicate with any audience.

    I’ve found several “Power-Users” in my Tweetstream who understand how to use Twitter and they have a good following because their tweet stream is a combination of useful content/conversation, personal anecdotes, good advice and sage recommendations. Lets call them the influencers.

    Influence is a valuable commodity but, I fear, its value is being eroded by some careless and sloppy practice. This erosion of trust isn’t a sinister thing and it’s easily cured. In a call for increased openness and transparency, there is a requirement for all of us (influencers or not) to declare our interest when promoting people and products on Twitter (and the same applies to levying criticism)

    Declaration of interest cannot dilute influence; its the non-disclosure that erodes it. I am just as likely to follow a recommendation from someone I already trust knowing that they’ve just punted a client’s product. However, trust will be threatened if I later discover a client relationship or other self-interest motivating a tweet. That said,on the whole, I believe there’s nothing sinister about the practice of non-declaration. All I’m suggesting is that we sharpen-up our disclosures.

    I have record of several tweets by repeat offenders entering into the “disclosure-omission” game. In most instances, a simple declaration could have helped maintain the tweet’s credibility and more importantly preserved my trust in that person’s WOM stream. At this stage, I’m not brave enough to single any out! Instead, I thought I’d encourage a debate on how best to achieve openness and transparency. I’ll initiate with three pointers:

    1. Try and incorporate a clear disclosure of interest into a tweet. If you’re promoting a friend say so. If the promotion is connected to your employer, your business or a client, say so. Self promotion is usually evident but make it clear if it isn’t.

    2. If you repeatedly promote someone or something try and have an area on your website or blog where you disclose your interests.

    3. Understand your own motives before tweeting: If you think people may be confused or question your motives behind a tweet , ensure you offer clarity there and then.

    Can you think of any other ways of promoting transparency?

    Tags Twitter Etiquette Word of Mouth Disclosure