Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Audi get it wrong - again!

I have now had two Audi TTs in succession and I’m looking to replace my latest sometime in the next few months.

Another TT is certainly a possibility and I went onto the Audi website to look at the specs and configure it. The standard colours, however, are very limited so I am thinking I will go for one of the non-standard colours that are available at a price only to find that you cannot configure the car with one of these online.

I then read in the press that, with much hype, Audi are opening their first ‘digital’ showroom in Piccadilly London. This is what Autocar said:

“Audi has opened the doors to its first digital showroom in London, dubbed Audi City. The compact showroom — that showcases the marque’s model line-up digitally – gives the firm new outlets in major cities.
Visitors to the new digital showroom can spec an Audi to their tastes and then digitally view the model on large computer screens that fill much of the showroom’s interior space.
Details such as drivetrain, bodyshell or LED tech can also be presented 'in order to make innovations understandable on an intuitive level' according to Audi.
Audi marketing and sales boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said: “Audi City combines the best of two worlds – digital product presentation and personal contact with the dealer.
“This new retail format brings us even closer to our customers – geographically, of course, but first and foremost in terms of the quality of our relationship. Audi City offers new freedom for tailor-made services and an even more individual contact with the customer.”
Sounds good?
So last week I went so I could have a look at the colour and specification of TT I might be interested in. In fact there was a strong chance I would commit to it there and then.
Well - Audi could not have got it more wrong - the showroom is a disaster, manned by miserable people who don’t understand their products and with inadequate technology - and the last thing they want to do, it seems, is for you to buy an Audi!
This was my experience:
I arrived mid morning and there appeared to be no other customers but about 6 or 7 members of staff. Two speaking German to each other immediately as you came in - who didn’t even look up, a guy with one of the electronic lecterns apart apparently repairing it and others, presumably salespeople, one sitting and the others standing around.
The showroom was bare floored, bare walled and felt somewhat cold and unwelcoming.
A lady came up to me and asked if she could help (no smile, and a little hesitant). I explained that I was interested in a TT, had heard about their new ‘digital’ showroom and would like to configure my car  (lots of buying signals I would have thought!). She took me to the first lectern, which apparently didn’t work, so we moved to the second. She then helped me get configuring but the touch screen was awful - it was like a first generation version - very user unfriendly. She had to keep telling me to be softer or harder or to be more precise in touching!
I then get to the colours and go for the non-standard, select the colour I am interested in and hey presto the large picture of my car on the wall shows - NOTHING!
She then enquires of a colleague, who then joins us (he does smile by the way), and explains that the configurator cannot show the non-standard colours as there were ‘too many’…...he then admits that in fact this highly hyped configurator is, in fact, just the same as the one they have on their website displayed on a digital wall. That’s all it is. 
I then ask how I can see the colour I am interested in and he says he thinks he has some swatches ‘downstairs’. He disappears for ten minutes and returns with some wooden swatches - each a few inches square ( hi tech stuff)
I explain that I appear to have wasted my time coming to London and that I felt very let down and went to leave - at which point there was no attempt to ‘sell’ to me.
The lady who had been sitting down throughout all this then stood up and said she was a researcher for Audi and would I mind answering some questions about my experience in the showroom. This was very long - and with some very biased questions- and you can imagine the replies she got - and would you believe that the moment I sat down with the researcher the salespeople came and stood a few feet away so they could hear every word I was saying!
I finally went to leave and the guy who had shown me the swatches came over and asked if I had finished the ‘inquisition’ and if there was anything else they could do. I made clear to him that when I had entered the showroom I was minded to buy an Audi but that was now very unlikely.
From beginning to end this was a case study in how not to do it.

Audi get another well deserved Ditched Helicopter Award
for their complete ineptitude.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Golden Helicopter Award to Hotel Pulitzer, Barcelona

We had a few days in glorious Barcelona in the Spring and stayed at the Hotel Pulitzer. It a very modern, very stylist boutique hotel right in the centre. 100 metres from the airport bus, the open top buses and the famous Ramblas area.

The staff were very helpful - and you can even rent a bicycle for the day in reception!

A Golden Helicopter Award goes to Hotel Pulitzer

Golden Helicopter Award to Cowscott House

Giving good service is nothing to do with size. My wife and I had a a few days cycling in the Yorkshire Dales recently and stayed a night at a Bed & Breakfast that was just delightful, Cowscott House. It is just an outstanding B&B with a lovely immaculate room and delightful, helpful and welcoming hosts, Liz and Mike.

On arrival there was a cafetiere of coffee in the garden with home made cookies and the next day a gorgeous breakfast with home made everything!

 We will be back as soon as we can!

A well deserved Golden Helicopter Award goes therefore to Cowscott House

Golden Helicopter Award to The London Olympics and ParaOlympics

I know I'm a biased Brit but I thought the whole 2012 London Olympics was absolutely amazing and an outstanding example of great service - absolutely everywhere. The volunteer "Games Makers" were always helpful and appeared to be really enjoying their work, the Olympic Park was simply wonderful - and will, hopefully, become an important ongoing asset to the country for the future and the sport, of course, was phenomenal.

My wife and I had a day in the Olympic Park and decided that we should treat the journey to get there (from Oxfordshire) as part of the fun - as we might encounter lots of delays. So we went to London by the Oxford Tube - a great, every 15 minutes 24/7 coach service down the M40 (no delays) and then we caught a Thames River Clipper from the Embankment and saw London at it's best with loads of Olympics stuff on the river - and everyone smiling!

Next we went on the brand new Emirates Air Line cable car over the river (fascinating 'new' views of London) and the Docklands Light Railway - where there we more people trying to help than travellers almost! From there straight into the Olympic Park - without hardly a wait.

I also went to the final of the mens football at Wembley Stadium and the most impressive thing there was how they got 90,000 people out and away in no time atall.

So I am very proud and pleased to give a Golden Helicopter Award to the 2012 London Olympics and Para Olympics

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Golden Helicopter Award to Waitrose

This from Thomas Coles:

" I think this Waitrose deserves a Golden Helicopter award, both for the customer service and the swift Twitter service too:

Tweet: Thomas Coles @thomascoles
01 Aug
Seriously impressive customer service from @waitrose Islington. Just dropped a bottle of wine and they wouldn't let me pay for it.

From Waitrose same day:
@thomascoles Hi Thomas, thanks for the great feedback. I'll pass this to the Islington shop."

I agree - EVERY company should be monitoring tweets for mentions good ior bad (use Twilert)

so a Golden Helicopter Award goes to Waitrose

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ditched Helicopter Award to the DVLA

This from Stuart Wayment:

"I feel compelled to nominate a ditched helicopter for the online car tax process from dvla

As self confessed petrol heads the annual car tax round is always welcome. ( I notice it is no longer called road fund licence - loosing the pretence that this money goes to fund our roads and is now simply called car tax), but this is an aside, so three demands drop through the letter box together at least two in the same envelope amounting to a sum in excess of £500 which I'm clearly keen to pay up. Supported by threats of fines impoundings and crushings for failing to tax.

So online to pay, two go through well pretty quick and painless, the final vehicle (my mid life crisis fair weather motorcycle) fails to process with a note telling me it has no insurance, and that I can use the link to check the national motor insurance database (which is what they use) hey presto that confirms I have insurance so leaving it a day or two I retry same fail, where are the "contact us" links oh there are none. Do I call the helpline which is simply a voice activated version of the on line system, surprise surprise no insurance and a message to say "I cannot process the transaction Goodbye"

A shame some of the money isn't reinvested to a system that works and why no sanctions for failure on the part of the dvla

Oh well off to queue at the post office if I can find one that does tax discs."

Very happy to award a well deserved Ditched Helicopter to the DVLA

Sunday, June 03, 2012

3 x Golden Helicopter Awards to Thee exceptional Businesses

I have been especially privileged recently to work with some spectacularly impressive organisations - working in all kinds of sectors - but are linked by their laser beam focus back on the basics of business and the motivation of their people.

Three stand out both as organisations and for the outstanding leaders who run them:

Adams Foods - sell the Pilgrims’ Choice cheese and Kerrygold butter brands in the UK and have a major cheese packaging factory at Leek. They have been transformed since the arrival of their new CEO, and are simply challenging all the paradigms in their business (like setting up a demo kitchen run by a top chef in the middle of their sales floor) and seeking out every possible way to achieve sustained profitable growth. Employee relations have been transformed - and this is, perhaps, best epitomised by everyone (including the CEO) having performed in an in-house rap video!

Qalhat LNG, based in Muscat, Oman is the first major corporation to be 100% Omani. It was set up with the current CEO and since then they have achieved that all elusive aim for most of a ‘family’ culture in a hard nosed corporate environment. Very unusually everyone is the company is called by their given name, with decisions challenged and a great deal of fun in the workplace.

Acumen Law, was set up in Brighton just 5 years ago with a vision to challenge the legal practice norms for doing business and, wow, have they succeeded! Fixed price contracts, a ‘Legal Director’ scheme for companies, the extensive use of social networks, approachable, accessible and unpretentious staff, an annual business conference and a strong brand that they are now franchising countrywide to name a few.

The leaders of these three businesses: Ian Toal, Harib Al Kitani, and Penina Shepherd respectively are all remarkable, visionary, people who each epitomise the leadership traits that came from recent research which asked the question:

“Why do you follow someone?” 

93% said:

"A feeling of fun, energy and excitement"

- and the three organisations they run have taken on board the first of the 4 basics of business - they are constantly striving to be truly exceptional at everything they do.

Congratulations! - and a Golden Helicopter award to each 

Ditched Heloicopter Award to WH Smith

WH Smith have introduced self service payment stations into their shops in addition to the normal tills.
I was in their branch in Henley on a Saturday in a queue of 18 people waiting to pay. There was one member of staff on the tills and one attempting to explain how the self service stations work. They are clearly not straightforward or user friendly as he was struggling.
Other staff were wandering about - apparently doing very little but finally after some mumbling by the queue one of them went onto a spare till.
When I finally got to her to pay she went out of her way to tell me that “I shouldn’t be doing this” and grumbling about the management.

Can you imagine any member of staff in a well run company like Pret a Manger or Apple ever saying something like that?

A Ditched Helicopter Award therefore goes to WH Smith

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Golden Helicopter Award to HSBC / Ditched Helicopter Award to Lloyds TSB

My son, Russ, and I recently agreed to be trustees of a disability trust.
Our first job was to open a bank account for the trust to receive funds. Russ contacted the Lloyds TSB branch in Ludgate Hill near his office in London and arranged an appointment with them to sign all the papers and open the account when I was next in London. Lloyds texted a confirmation to him the day before and a reminder to bring passports etc for identification purposes.
So far, so good.

We arrived at the appointed time  to be told:

"We know nothing about an appointment and there's no-one here at present who knows any thing about trusts. That's Head Office for you, they often do this to us, sorry. Can you come another day?"

We then explained that we had come a long way and really needed to get this done so they found someone to deal with us. We duly filled in all the forms but were told near the end of this process that we would be unable to have online banking on a trust account. This would make it very inconvenient for us running the account but they told us that this was a regulatory requirement, not Lloyds own rules. 

On leaving the branch we noticed there was an HSBC branch nearby so we thought we would call in on the off chance and just check about the online rules for trust accounts.
The contrast was light and day.
Zak Islam greeted us by the door in a friendly and professional manner and when we mentioned our experience and that we were seeking to open a trust account asked us to wait whilst he spoke to the expert.
After offering us a seat and a drink he came back and said that yes it was possible to open an online account with a trust account and if we could wait a few minutes the trust expert would be able to see us. He established that with HSBC we could, after all, have online facilities for a trust account.
Five minutes later we were sat with Vicky Morgan. Ten minutes later we had filled in all the forms, had our ID certified, the trust deed copied and been informed that the account would be open within 24 hours.
We were extremely impressed with Vicky who helped us with the somewhat complicated forms, was professional and courteous and genuinely appeared to want our trust account business.
She rang the next day to confirm that the account is open as promised and we are both very happy clients.
Vicky and Zak  are a credit to HSBC and it is great to know that HSBC invests in and clearly values training, customer service and employing quality people.

I am very happy therefore to give a Golden Helicopter Award to HSBC, St. Pauls Churchyard and Zak Islam and Vicky Morgan 

 After leaving HSBC we went back to the Lloyds TSB branch and asked them not to process our papers or open the account. They said that would be fine.


Three days later we received a letter from Lloyds TSB telling us our account was open  and the next day we received paying in books!

Lloyds TSB get an extremely well deserved Ditched Helicopter Award for lousy service

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golden Helicopter Ward to Days Inn, Fleet

I regularly stay at budget hotels - like Premier Inn, Travelodge, Formule 1, Hilton Express and they are all clean and give value for money.

I recently stayed at Days Inn, Fleet and the experience there was significantly better - for the same price. It was quiet, very comfortable (with many I find the rooms are hot and you can't do much about it) and the staff were particularly helpful and friendly. They also have a great video check system on the parking.

I am happy to award Days Inn, Fleet a Golden Helicopter Award

Golden Helicopter Award to Gordon Bromley

I have now run business growth workshops on 88 occasions for CEO Group organisations like Vistage, the Academy for Chief Executives, TEC and Footdown and have been honoured to be awarded Speaker of the Year by the Academy on twice.

When running these workshops the Group Chair has a more important contribution to make than often appreciated in ensuring that their Group members gain the absolute maximum from the speaker and the event and that the speaker is enabled to run the very best workshop he or she can.

Gordon Bromley the Academy Chair for Surrey is the consumate professional in this regard. He clearly cares about each and every one of his members and works tirelessly to ensure that they gain the maximum from their membership. He also works with the speaker - before, during and after the workshop to help enhance the value to all.

I am very happy therefore to award Gordon Bromley a Golden Helicopter Award for outstanding service.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

O'Briens Irish Sandwiches get a Ditched Helicopter Award

What can I say - the sandwiches at the O'Brien's Irish Sandwich bar in Dubai airport are totally inedible and the coffee tastes like dishwater.

Even after complaining and getting both changed the replacements were identical.

I strongly recommend that you don't go there!

A thoroughly well deserved Ditched Helicopter Award to O'Brien's Sandwiches.

Ditched Helicopter Award to Emirates Airlines/Servisair

I can normally say no wrong about Emirates Airlines but they need to do something about their service partner at Birmingham Airport, Servisair.

I had a new knee in early December and the two weeks before that I was flying Emirates from Birmingham and, being unable to walk far pain free, needed golf cart transport to the gate if possible. I looked at the website - nothing, so when I checked in with the Servisair rep (on behalf of Emirates) I explained my situation and asked what I should do - both in Birmingham and in Dubai upon arrival.

The first problem was that she barely spoke English and had great difficulty understanding what I was talking about and when she did she was totally dismissive - basically saying she didn't know and wasn't prepared to find out. It was very much like the level of service you used to get on Eastern European airlines before the wall came down.

Not good enough Emirates Airlines - so it's a Ditched Helicopter for you and Servisair

Golden Helucopter Award to Continental, Ditched Helicopter to Virgin Atlantic

This from Richard Wood:

"My family and I recently holidayed in the US and flew Virgin Atlantic. We spent most time in Las Vegas and were then due to spend a little time in New York before flying home.
The Vegas - Newark flight was on Virgin's code share partner, Continental, and a a day or two before we were due to fly we heard from Virgin our flight had been cancelled - which was getting us in with time for dinner that night - so they had re-booked us on one arriving late evening. This wasn't what we wanted and we found there was an earlier flight that would suit us better and rang Virgin to change.
Unbelievably they said that, yes, they could change the flight but it would cost us £65 + £240 = £305 - even though it was not our fault! No amount of explanation,anger or logic would get them to change that.

So we then rang Continental Airlines, explained the situation and they changed the flight - with a smile and no charge!"

I think a hefty Ditched Helicopter Award is due to Virgin Atlantic for this crass nonsense.

- and I am very pleased for Continental Airlines to receive a Golden Helicopter Award for excellent service.

About Me

My photo
Roger Harrop, The CEO Expert, has spent over 25 years leading international business at the highest level, ultimately a plc, putting him in a unique position to deal with contemporary business challenges. He is ranked in the top 10 of Management and Strategy Speakers worldwide by Speaker Wiki and twice voted by the members of The Academy for Chief Executives 'Speaker of the Year' He is an, Oxford, UK based, international motivational business growth speaker who inspires and entertains his audiences with his acclaimed Staying in the Helicopter® programmess. Over 20000 CEOs, business leaders in 40 countries have achieved transformational change through his thought provoking and entertaining talks laced with real-life stories, anecdotes and humour. Roger is an author, accredited SME business advisor, mentor, and independent director and has run businesses for major multi-national corporations. He is a Past-President of The Professional Speakers Association, a former Vice-President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and a Liveryman with The Worshipful Company of Marketers.