The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Is This The Future?

By Brian H Meredith

From the NZBusiness"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published January 2005

Whether it was the Sony Store assistant # 1 who said “They are on a Qantas flight arriving this afternoon and we’ll have it for you by tomorrow”. Or the Sony Store Assistant #2 who, on the same day, said “There’s no way you’ll have it until January”. Or the Sony Store Assistant #3 who said of each of those statements “Who told you that?”

Or the website which said, in response to an online purchase, “Server Error – Transaction cannot be completed” and then delivered the Christmas tree and debited the credit card anyway (and did so despite the telephone order subsequently placed because the online transaction had failed resulting in a second tree being delivered and a second charge debited to the same credit card)

Or the same who then ignored at least three emails requesting a credit for the cost of one of the trees but continued to send an automated response to each email which said “Thank you for your email. World class customer service is our aim! I will reply as soon as possible”.

Or the web development company whose Business Development Manager is virtually illiterate in his emails and is clearly prepared to promise a client anything, irrespective of his company’s ability to deliver, and is tragically afflicted with a chronic disability preventing him from ever saying “no” – right idea but flawed in practice.

Or Baycorp who have to be the single most impossibly difficult company to deal with, but who can’t be avoided because of a need to frequently check your credit record as the likelihood of it being inaccurate (and, therefore, damaging) is virtually guaranteed.

Or the marketing people at Air New Zealand who seem incapable of seeing that their grossly misleading and intentionally deceptive fare advertising is legally, morally and ethically bereft (even if the advertised fares were available which they, all too frequently, are not).

Or the reporter from the East & Bays Courier who wanted to question me about a story concerning a client of mine and who, when I politely explained that I did not discuss client matters with journalists, hung up on me without another word.

Or the shop assistant in New World who, when Mrs Meredith asked how to find the pantyhose, did not have enough English to understand the question, let alone enough to embark on the exciting and challenging odyssey that would have constituted any attempt at an answer.

Or the second assistant at New World who, when asked the same question, quipped “Well, first you have to find someone who speaks English”

Or the Receptionist at The Duxton Hotel in Okawa Bay who, when telephoned to find out why an email requesting confirmation of a verbal arrangement had not been responded to answered “Oh – I’ve got it here in front of me. Were you expecting a reply?”

Or the police officer on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive who, in stopping some hapless individual for an unknown driving offense, did, through the extraordinary positioning of his patrol car, create exponentially more risk to public safety than just about anything the offending driver could possibly have done.

Or the mastermind who was responsible for the totally unintelligible signage on Auckland’s spaghetti junction on 12th December, the day when the exit to Nelson Street was moved from the right hand side of the to the left hand side.

Not sure which of these events was prescient but, together, they constitute not just a glimpse of my December but a glimpse of the future – one which I am approaching whilst increasingly ruminating on the implications of this state of affairs from a marketing perspective – a perspective within which staff are, or should be, key.

And that’s the problem.

Staff don’t know and/or don’t care.

Organisations in the public and private sectors alike are investing less in their staff than at anytime in recent history. It appears endemic that staff, at all levels, are being more poorly recruited, more poorly trained, more poorly motivated and more poorly rewarded than at perhaps any time before.

Unaddressed, what, then, does the future hold?

More Decembers like (and worse than) the one Mrs Meredith and I have just endured.

And Januarys. And Februarys. And ……………..

That’s a real problem. At the very least, from a marketing perspective.

Happy New Year.


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