Think different as a phrase or concept came into the spotlight in 1997 with the famous Apple commercial by Steve Jobs & friends. Whether your an Apple adept or not, no one can deny this is exactly what the people at Apple were good at and their ability to think different reshaped several industries… and had its share in changing the way we communicate.READ MORE
Yes, I have to admit I’m probably not the average consumer – although probably everybody might think that about themselves as well. I have a tendency of being more critical when it comes to customer service… especially in retail, the B2C businesses or “business to consumer” for those not fond of acronyms.
The retail world is changing, nothing new there… It has been since the dark ages. But the changes are speeding up. The major change has been the shift of power from the B to the C. In other words, where in the old days old wise men (owners of the B) decided what we needed and pushed these products down our throats, this will not work anymore in todays’ economy of the western world. Maybe the same changes apply to elsewhere in the world , but I only know about these parts and did not want to assume this is the same all over the world. Today the C (the consumer that is) will decide and call the shots… and the service level has to follow or (s)he will no longer be your C…
Now the biggest challenge for B (businesses) is they operate on procedures… and they should, that is a good thing in general. However the problem with procedures is they tend to adapt (too) slow and being able to adapt will decide upon you reason for being. Good & empowered Customer Service I think is the buffer businesses need between the fast changing demands and the ability to catch up with their procedures. Good Customer Service will prevent the Consumer from getting frustrated or feeling cheated. Even when you’re not able to fulfil their needs immediately good Customer Service will leave behind a good feeling when doing (or not doing) business with you and will decide if the consumer returns or even becomes your ambassador…
Let me demonstrate by this example of a missed opportunity from real life and my most recent frustration about Customer Service. Some weeks ago I ordered some clothing from a well known brand – McGregor -at the online store of their own brand. I had these delivered to a different address and added all the necessary info needed for a problem free delivery. I paid through Paypal and there they neglected to tell me this would affect the info the logistics division would get about my delivery address. Strange in itself already but if you know this is the case, set up some procedures to prevent possible issues I would think.
Not knowing about this issue I was happily expecting the arrival of my ordered goods… But nothing! The delivery company, not having the info I gave the shop, could not make the delivery and sent it back to sender. No biggie, shit happens… Easy fix you’d think.
I contacted Customer Service (by phone and followed up by e-mail) and then the frustration started building. A friendly lady explained what happened. So far so good, I’m understanding. These things happen, learn from your mistakes and move on would be my first reaction. But no, the friendly lady had absolutely no intention of solving my problem for me. Her proposed fix was: just reorder yourself the same items.
So… I trusted your shop, gave you my money and expected some goods in return. When these did not arrive, the solution would be to give you again more of my money and spend the extra time needed to reorder everything – which by the way was not even possible because lack of stock? No, I’m sorry… the correct solution would be the one who makes the mistake fixes the problem. So what Customer Service should have done is contact their logistics, have them add 1 word to the address label and retry the delivery. This would have been the fastest and cheapest fix of the issue. Alternatively they could have waited for the return to get back to them, create a new order for the Customer and reship it as a new order. No, instead of these two possible and rather simple solutions they decided to tell their Customer to redo all the work of reordering himself, knowing their lack of stock would make it impossible. Oops, your problem! We have to follow procedures (“Befehl ist Befehl” remember?). Well… If you have no intention of solving the problem for your Customer what the hell you’re doing working in Customer Service!!!
Now they got me pissed (more of the same bad service happened but I will spare you the details) and McGregor lost a Customer with an approximate but realistic lifetime value of some 10.000 euro.
So my message to those concerned by Customer Service is the following… If, as a Customer Service Executive or Agent, you have no intention of solving the problem for your Customer, get out of Customer Service! If you’re an B2C organisation not willing to empower your Customer Service to solve problems, be prepared to lose out on a lot of money. Procedures are a good thing, but when it comes down to fixing it for your customer, choose the simplest solution available. Simplest for the Customer that is… So think again McGregor Fashion: Customer is King, not procedures…
A career of over 70 years of which some 50 years recognised all over the world as the best in your trade. Not many people can claim such a feat. Probably only one: Toots Thielemans! Today he announced his retirement at the age of 91…
Respect is the first word that comes to mind when I read this earlier today. “Living between a smile and a tear” immediately followed… His slogan and it describes him so well. This nice cool grandpa who outgrew his Brussels and Belgium, becoming a true citizen of the world, without loosing sight of his roots…
He embodies “Do what you love and love what you do”. Rather then rambling on about the greatest musician Belgium ever produced let me introduce you to some YouTube gems (hoping they stay online) :
Toots & Paul Simon (1975):
Toots & Billy Joel:
Toots & Jaco Pastorius (9 minutes of legendary jazz):
Toots & Peggy Lee makin’ whoopee… almost 50 years ago:
Toots & Trijntje Oosterhuis (What a wonderful world…at the age of 90):
Toots & Quincy Jones (magicians coming together):
Toots doing Brel:
And I could go on forever…
Last week season 3 started. It’s one of the few TV addictions I suffer from, honestly. But The Voice UK is the best game show I’ve ever seen. The combination of seeing young (and somewhat less young) people perform to chase their dreams in a competition format is appealing. To see creative men and women switch up beautiful songs and make them their own while under pressure to convince audience and a couple of major music stars judging them. To witness the astonishing musical talent this strange island in the North Sea produces time after time… It continues to amaze me! It speaks to the recruiter in me! It appeals to the competitor in me!
Season 1 was good, very good. Season 2 last year got me hooked. Season 3 started just last week and produces two very good songs again… A surprising version of “Get lucky” by this folky young girl behind her harp. And an older women, she even considered herself somewhat over the hill and if you see her entering the stage you probably would tend to agree with her… but then she start singing and you’re reminded that sometimes it’s good to slow things down a notch when she performs “Don’t let me be misunderstood“…
Enjoy my Top 10 list from all seasons below. It will probably change over the next few weeks with hopefully some new discoveries. But those that got kicked from the top 10 will still be available in my “The Voice UK favourites” playlist at YouTube…
Es ergo sum. Jij bent, dus ik ben…
Vandaag leerde ik een nieuwe woord. Ubuntu! Zeker geen nieuw woord, integendeel. Het woord komt voor in de Bantoetalen, een begrip dat tientallen talen in het Afrika ten zuiden de Sahara omvat. Mensen die al meer gelezen hebben over Nelson Mandela en zijn vrijheidstrijd in Zuid-Afrika zullen het woord wellicht al zijn tegengekomen. Ik ken Mandela vanzelfsprekend, maar durf niet beweren dat ik mij al in hem en zijn visie verdiept heb verder dan wat Jan Publiek ook over de man in kwestie weet.
Maar ubuntu staat dus voor het idee dat ten grondslag ligt aan de hervormingen in Zuid-Afrika na de bevrijding van Mandela. Meestal wordt het vertaald als “ik ben omdat jij bent” wat mij deed denken aan de beroemde uitspraak van Descartes “cogito ergo sum”. Ik dacht dus gelijk aan “es ergo sum”… Een concept dat mij meer aanspreekt dat het naar binnen gekeerde “ik denk dus ik ben” van Descartes. Een typische tegenstelling tussen de Europese visie op het leven en een Afrikaanse?
De moeite waard om mij eens verder in te verdiepen op een van de donkere rustige winterdagen de komende tijd. Wikipedia leert me dat in de politiek het concept wordt gebruikt om te benadrukken dat er consensus moet zijn bij besluiten en een menselijke ethiek nodig is op basis waarvan besloten wordt. Een concept dat dichter bij huis wellicht ook wat meer aandacht verdient…
In Johannesburg, Zuid-Afrika sprak vandaag de Amerikaanse president Obama ter ere van een van de iconen uit onze moderne tijd Nelson Mandela. De man weet hoe hij een boodschap moet brengen, dat bewees hij al eerder… Als je eens 20 minuutjes hebt is dit een speech die de moeite is om te bekijken:
This might seem still a long way away but we all know in every day life, time goes fast and faster. Even more than in regular life topsport requires planning ahead. This is so for players with ambitions, for teams, for clubs, for federations, for all concerned. The classic “Demming circle” of “Plan, Do, Chect, Act” is something I picked up at work, but can (and should) be applied to almost every aspect of life and most certainly (top)sport.
Those aiming to be a contender for the Games in Rio better already have a plan and be turning the Demming circle around and around… improving themselves. A 1000 days will go by very quickly!
In this light it was good to see the world governing body for our sport (FIH) publish their main international events for the next 4 years ahead of us – click here to see their announcement and planning. And watch the video announcing the next World Cup below:
In the beginning of this year I wrote an open letter to the FIH & EHF (click here to read it) regarding our frustrations about the lack of this planning ahead in our sport and proposed my ideal calendar to them. I’m happy to say I see a lot of this concept returning in the calendar proposed by the FIH today. Not everything of course has been planned to my ideal version and they only planned ahead for 4 years where I would have done this for 6 to 8 years, but still… It’s a good step, if not a major step into the right direction!
Some other issues still on the table according to me would be :
- The major issue I still have seeing their 2015-2018-cycle is it doesn’t (yet) show the planning of the continental federations included. When will the continental championships be scheduled? Because they too have an impact on the calendar of all concerned.
- When & where will the World League Rounds 1 & 2 be planned. Less important maybe for the major countries, but also those countries in the sub-top or aiming for the sub-top require planning ahead.
- Why is there still a separate Champions Trophy on the calendar? I think most (if not all) players and coaches concerned would agree it’s one tournament too much on the calendar. The brand is great, so let’s keep that but let’s call World League 4 (the final round) the Champions Trophy and we’re all happy…
- Other issues that will certainly arise have less to do with when but more with where these events will be played. I think all will understand the special position India holds in our world. I think we will all benefit from a strong(er) India, fully committed in the hockey community but the share they got from the top events to be organised is somewhat disproportional to say the least. Something to be discussed I’m sure…
But we’ve made some steps into the right direction with regards to planning! And I’m happy to see this. We all know “Rome was not build in one day” so I am sure the process of do, check and act (=adapt) following this planning will help improve the issues I still see in the future.
Therefore I’m looking forward to the 2015-2018 planning of the continental federations within the framework of the FIH and I challenge the national federations as well to question their existing competitions! I think if our European national competitions remain as is, at least we should consider playing with less teams (max 10) in the top division. But why not dare to rethink our competitions totally? From time to time it’s healthy to think outside the box. Yes, I do believe continuity is a good thing so maybe we don’t need to change it at all. But keeping things the way they are, just because it has always been like that is a sure way to become stale and obsolote. That is not what sports is about…
So let’s celebrate hockey and not be afraid to challenge it as well sometimes!
Kayne West already proved to be a guy with a sense of humor, naming his recently born baby girl “North”. Now his music inspired this other girl, working in a Thai video animation company, to quit while dancing to his tunes. Marina Shifrin might not have the most funny name but she will get the prize for this year’s funniest way to quit your job. I’ll just let her do the talking… and dancing ;)
What can I say… It became one of these video’s that went viral and reached +10 million views in a couple of days. And yes… her boss, or ex boss by now, saw it too and when you’re in the business, might as well answer with another video he must have thought. Here you go… the video from those that did stay on at Next Media Animation in Thailand.
By nature I’m the typical guy with a lot of confidence and trust in people, however this smells like a well worked promotional plan for the video company in question. Well whatever… It made me laugh…
“Don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses. Just get out there, and whatever you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability.”
How’s that for an intro… It’s a quote from one of my favorite TED talks…
If you have not yet been introduced to TED, please take the time to get acquainted some time this fall or winter. Take your time for it, there is no rush for once… “he” will still be there in a couple of weeks, months or even years. But he’s a great companion for some of the cold, rainy days that lay ahead… when it’s too cold and wet to go outside and for when you have some time to spare. Because when you take the time for TED you’ll be introduced to some rare pearls of wisdom, pure genious, motivational & inspiring thoughts. He’s got some for all people from all walks of life…
John Wooden was my ticket into the wonderful world of TED.com… I’m passionate about people, communication and sports and he offered me so much of his wisdom accumulated over many decades on these topics in less than 20 minutes. We’ve all shared the experience of patiently listening to older people sharing their thoughts. Usually by the time they’ve finished their first sentence we would have sent out 4 text messages, answered 1 whatsapp, befriended 2 more people at Facebook, retweeted 3 tweets and checked out 7 new instagram pics…. However forget about that during this talk. He might have been in his early nineties during this talk, but if you want to follow his train of thoughts during the next 20 minutes you better fasten your seatbelts and hold on tight…
John Wooden, aka “Coach” , is considered to be the most successful basketball coach, ESPN even named him the best coach ever in any sport. He coached and teached for 40 years (!) at UCLA in the US and taught many generations about the difference between winning and succeeding. Don’t forget to turn on the subtitles if he’s going to fast for you ;)
Kickstarter is thé reference when it comes to crowdfunding worldwide… Strike the right chord, add some great promo video stuff, be creative with your rewards for backers and if your idea came at the right time to the right people it could take off in a way you never would have imagined, not even in your wildest dreams. The Pebble watch of course being the best example of this. Of course, crowdfunding providers will always show off their successes and remain silent about the thousands of projects that did not make it, maybe the idea wasn’t good enough, maybe their promo did not get through or maybe they were too much ahead of time (or too late).
However being the field hockey enthusiast I am, I could not resist helping out with some promotion for the project they’re promoting these days: a field hockey game for PC, Mac & Linux + XBOX 360 PS4 OUYA iOS Android which is set to be released just before the World Cup next year.
Watch the video here…
Visit their Kickstarter page (click here) and get your wallet out to back them! Remember you do not risk losing your money since it will only be paid when they reach their goal. If they won’t make their goal the guys behind this have said they will continue on their own (with less resources of course) so in that case their ambitions will have to be turned down a notch or two and they won’t make the deadline of the World Cup next summer.
They still have a long way to go, being at 1% of their goal as I write this and have some 20 days to go to reach their goals. Let’s all pitch in and promote this idea to help promote the sport we love…
But of course, should they make it and you or your kids will start playing it…. Remember it will never be as good as the real stuff out there ;)
It will be a difficult hockey year 2013-2014. Mostly because it will be the year confirmation is needed… Confirmation for some of the succesful surprises/innovations of recent times in our game of hockey. But let me start by reassuring you… I’m an optimist, I think confirmation will follow… for most anyway!
Those who were able to attend the European championship last month in Belgium will confirm the enthusiasm for our game has risen to new heights in Belgium. Both Belgian national teams, men & women, reached their goals: final for the men and semi-final for the women. Even more so, the positive vibe our game got from the best EC ever (!) is the true winner.
However now comes yet another challenge: confirmation of their new position in the picking order of international hockey.
Our Belgian women still have some years of catching up to do but are well on their way of reaching for the same stars their male counterparts are aiming at.
At this moment I believe the Belgian men belong in the top 5 of the world ranking (read my previous article -written before the EC- about this). Now comes the next challenge of maintaining that level in order to prepare for the jump into the top 3. I do believe they have what it takes to maintain their sub top position, although nothing is certain in sports. The jump into the top 3 of the world by Rio 2016 for example is possible but a heck of a challenge. And then again comes the renewed challenge of maintaining the same level (= growing at least as fast as your competitor). Confirmation is topsport… No wonder these Germans are so good at it… ;)
HIL & the (inter)national calendars
Some months before, the inaugural edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) was an amazing success story. One that could well revive the sleeping hockey giant India to challenge our Belgian Red Lions for this spot on the top 3… With the support of some great sponsors the first ever professional tournament has seen the light. Where else but in India! This is a set up that not only will be able to get India behind their national sports of the previous century once again but it also allows those top players living for their sport to finally make a decent living out of it. Forget about retiring after a couple of years at the highest level like in football, tennis, cricket or golf… But they’re making decent wages finally…
They also are gearing up for a huge challenge. Can they keep the momentum going and grow the HIL to more teams and a consistent yearly event? I think they can but they will need the help of the FIH who will be fixing all major international events for the following years in a couple of months. Can the FIH find a balance between the needs of the European club competitions, other national hockey events around the globe and this amazing HIL? And maybe even a female counterpart for this in Argentina? Why not?
We can only hope they will be given the opportunity for confirmation ! However 2014 is starting of in difficulties with a World Cup disrupting needlessly almost all other competitions and calendars because of poor timing.
Our sport has grown and is the better for it because of the innovation in rules these last couple of years. Two major changes in rules of earlier days were the abolishment of the off-side rule and the limitation of changing players during the game. The best of more recent changes is the self-pass of course, originating from the EHL. I’m somewhat less enthusiastic (read more here) about changes such as the own goal rule and the blue pitch and sceptical about the testing of Hockey 5’s instead of 11 vs 11. The latest change to allow the controlling of a ball above the shoulder however looks very promising to me. In these cases too we have to wait for the confirmation if they add to our game. If it were up to me the own goal rule has not confirmed, nor did the blue pitch but I’m afraid they will be confirmed by the FIH none the less…
2013-2014 will be a “Grand Cru” season for hockey
I’m looking forward to a very interesting new hockey season with top national competitions starting all over the place this month, the EHL next month and in April and the AHL down under.India will be in the centre of attention early 2014 with the Junior World Cup in December, the World League Round 4 in January and topped of by the HIL in February. Spring will bring us new national champions in our domestic competitions in Europe and to finish it all off an amazing World Cup in the months of May & June.