Posted tagged ‘people’

Is there a policy response to the human element of looting? – Bodyproject contributes to a Social Marketing network debate


Bodyproject contributes to a debate led by the Social Marketing Network posing the question…Is there a policy response to the human element of looting?

“…I’m troubled by this discussion as I don’t understand half of it – not sure what a ‘broad scope behavioural insight driven intervention framework’ is. I’m not being overly critical or rude – I just don’t know what some of this debate is about and it may be me being ‘thick!’

But what I do know having been out and about in some inner city communities over the last few weeks is that we have a large number of people who are feeling very disenfranchised and that our society is badly failing in parts.

I think the present political and public service structure is badly broken. We have a Government that seems to be making it up as it goes along, a parliamentary committee structure that could have been more use in Arthur Miller’s portrayal of Salem, a judiciary thrashing around, the Police impotent in the face of new criminal and crowd behaviour (from responses such as kettling to surging – neither has worked) and a public sector DNA that is just so wholly lost in its own process and procedures it has little chance of influencing change.

The people I have spoken to are very angry. They are heavily in ‘victim’ mode and are just observing consumerism dangled in the their faces (the haves and the have nots). They constantly hear and see and perceive corruption, greed, abuse of power and have just lost faith. Austerity and deficits mean nothing to them it just means they pay a heavier price. So in the end when faced by what John describes they are going to be compelled to grab what they can. Ultimately, I don’t think there is a policy response as how can you legislate for good versus bad. Its the old saying of actions speak louder than words and shadow of the leader. What we need is a clear vision for our society and the values articulated. Then we need people who are in leading positions to start to show the way. But from football to banking, politics to media, those that can afford to have holidays to those who cant, health inequalities to etc etc etc – its a huge challenge…”

What price good customer service?


“…One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing -
is what we do for others…

Lewis Carol

It is a fact that good customer service seems to be getting very difficult to achieve.  In an average week we are subjected to customer service that stretches from the woefully inadequate to the quite frankly appalling.

Take my week.  I visited the Post Office in Liverpool to join a line of fifty people waiting to be served by four people who were sullen and fed-up.  They moved around slowly with shoulders slumped and everything was depressing.  No eye contact – they just looked beaten and dejected.   The up-sell at the end of the transaction for travel insurance and mobile top ups was so unconvincing.

Then there is transport, as an example, waiting for a late Easyjet and hearing monotone announcements about late inbound aircraft and apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.  Northern Rail also used the same bland statement when my train was delayed.  Then, standing in a Tesco store, about to close, seeing the duty manager frantically searching for the script to use on the public address system.

In contrast take my milkman who always has a smile and chats freely as he collects the money, a difficult task as he has to be up in the early hours to do a hard job against stiff competition from the supermarkets.  Then he has to spend an evening door knocking.  Of course we can now pay the dairy by direct debit and manage our account online, but interestingly, He tells me few are taking up the option as they like to chat to him!

Take my local charity arts centre (,uk) managing a full house of rock fans and people mobbing the bar and yet five people serving multi-tasking pouring multiple drinks, taking money, engaging numerous customers.

Take Café Nerro employees in my local store who never fail to smile, engage and ride out their company dictated barista up-selling to talk to customers and keep the line moving servicing lots of customers at once.

So what is the difference?

Well it comes down to natural communication, no scripts, no standardised wordings just plain courtesy, common sense and engagement.  Of course there are added complexities like having a good employer and job that is fulfilling.  But the difference is stark and I am now making my choices based on this service.  Bodyproject believes organisations are all about people and that people offer the best service when the organisation treats them as adults and allows them the freedom to express themselves.  I hope that, sooner rather than later, all organisations will take a deep long look at themselves and get their customer service sorted out.  If my local art centre and local milkman can do it then surely the likes of the Post Office, Tesco and rail companies can sort it – or can they?

What price progress


“…Here at Woolworths we never lose our sense of adventure. We love a challenge. And we’re determined and tenacious enough to make new ideas work. It’s that unique team spirit that has led to us becoming one of the UK’s market leaders…” – web site front page introduction December 2008

About thirty years ago on a Saturday morning I would park my car in the High Street and unload the local hospital radio’s record decks and speakers to set up what must have been one of the first in-store broadcasts.

My stint in the Woolworths record department was a real entrepreneurial effort in moving product and move product we did. My exhortations and multiple plays of the latest hits would see the records flying off the shelves. But of course, like the black plastic 7-inch and 12-inch discs, those days are gone.

A few weeks ago I visited Woolworths and rummaged through the CD racks, bought advent calendars from the chocolate counter that nestled close to the ever present pick ‘n’ mix sweets and noticed that the person serving me seemed vaguely familiar as the shop assistant who thirty years ago sold records whilst I played them just now she, like me, was three decades the wiser.

And in that lies the price of progress, which is inevitably human, and her job, like 30,000 others, is likely to be the main casualty of this high street retailer going out of business.

The impending closure of Woolworths is a real high street tragedy as it has its roots in tradition and nostalgia and the retailer has been unable to keep pace with the Amazon, I-tunes and Tesco Extra era. It seems prophetic that a log on to Woolworths web site returns a ‘site down for administration’ message as it certainly is in every sense.

The TV pictures have concentrated on the bargain hunting ‘vultures’ crowding in for their 50% discount; interestingly most of them interviewed bemoaning the lack of a genuine bargain rather than pausing to think about the 30,000 jobs that may be lost.

The price of progress is not a 50% sale and is actually far more expensive and my thoughts are with the people who will pay the biggest price