• Follow Curiously Persistent on WordPress.com
  • About the blog

    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
  • Subscribe

  • Meta

Be nice

I’ve just returned home from a week’s break in Berlin – my first visit to the city since 1990, shortly after the Wall came down and when there were street vendors selling fragments of it (I have a piece somewhere).

I saw many great things, ate some good food and drank some even better beer. Berliners are on the whole very friendly, and the vast majority responded to my poor attempts at German (my GCSE was gained through rote learning and memorising key phrases) in near-flawless English.

However, this isn’t a travel blog so I’ll limit this blog post to a quick contrast.

  • At one bar, we were welcomed in by the barman who made friendly conversation while pouring our drinks. We were there to see the blues band playing (this was actually our second choice of entertainment, but the New Indie Bands night at Lido was sold out), When we realised we were in the wrong room, the barman personally took us to the right place. When he saw the doorman was distracted, he stamped our hands and waved us through. A thoroughly nice fellow.
  • Whether it is because Germans are particularly fond of going to restaurants on Sundays, or whether the rain drove everyone insides to make it seem busier, but the restaurants in Hackescher Markt were particularly crowded. The restaurant we chose was the wrong one. From being herded to wait by the bar to the long waits between courses, it took 2 hours to get our main meal. The service was pretty poor and the food wasn’t much better – I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt to the staff who looked overworked, but it is the restaurant owner’s fault for not employing enough staff on what was clearly a busy time

The second venue was in a primer location, and was far busier. Yet the experience was far worse. Location is undoubtedly a factor in success, but it pales in significance to customer service and customer experience. Venues survive and thrive via word of mouth – the internet and social media is amplifying its power.

Things can and will change. I’m but one small player in the constant interactions between nodes and networks, but I am nevertheless a player. Therefore…

I recommend going the the Junction Bar in Kreuzberg for some live music and a friendly atmosphere (nearest U-Bahn is Gneisenaustra├če).

I recommend avoiding Dante am Hackeschen Markt in Mitte (nearest S-Bahn is Hackescher Markt).

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bump/758310/

Chosen as a more mature alternative to my original choice of image

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links – 3rd August 2008

Since getting back from holiday, I’ve bookmarked a lot of stuff to read. Over the weekend, I finally caught up. At least until the next interruption to my finely honed grazing schedule.

Further link posts to appear over the coming days but today

Marketing and Media

Old media deathrace 5000 (Mashable) – very interesting analysis on the future of old media. My opinion is that TV will remain the central point of the media experience, but that it may be “web powered”

Should TV be margins or ratings? (Huffington Post)

Overview of the long tail debate between Chris Anderson and Anita Elberse (Slate)

Nielsen data shows people still prefer the TV set to the computer (Marketing Charts)

New IMMI survey data says that half of online TV viewers are using it as a replacement for traditional viewing (I’m yet to read the full report, but I assume it is an “ever” rather than “always” answer)

Tess Alps of Thinkbox responds to accusations of declining advertising audiences (Guardian) – a tough crowd but you can’t really find fault in her argument. Audiences are fragmenting, which is an issue, but total viewing does appear to be increasing

Bob Garfield predicts chaos for the TV industry (Advertising Age)

How the dip sits between the head and the long tail (Seth Godin)

Ever increasing levels of product placement (New York Times) – with Fox News taking it to the next level

Sega’s Game Gear adverts in Viz from the early 1990s (UK Resistance) – I like these; it shows the brand addressing the media it is advertising in

ANA Marketing Insights May 08 (Slideshare presentation) – a very useful resource

The power of FREE! (Neuroscience Marketing)

Notes on the 40 years of planning event (Brand Republic)

Dealing with analysts – funny Slideshare from RedMonk

A very engaging slideshare presentation on Content Marketing from Helge Tenno

Lucy Barrett on dying brands (Guardian) – I suppose this is the stage before they come back zombified

24 unforgettable advertisements (Toxel) – funny mix of outdoor and experiential

The six laws of customer experience e-book (Experience Matters)

Songs about brands (Guardian)

Some very high quality posts in there, but the three I would recommend most highly are Old media deathrace 5000,  Bob Garfield predicts chaos for the TV industry and A very engaging slideshare presentation on Content Marketing

The forthcoming link posts will be:

Monday – Internet and Business

Tuesday – Useful and Interesting (to me, at least)

Wednesday – Miscellaneous

Thursday/Friday – back to the regular schedule

I’ll even try and fit a “content post” into the mix

sk

Satisfaction at Sam Smith’s

Funny Pub sign

Photo by meophamman

After being confronted with rude staff at The Fitzroy Tavern last night, I went online to find where I could lodge a complaint (I doubt I would actually have done so). Amazingly, it seems that the Samuel Smith Brewery does not maintain a website. Judging by the comments at the above Beer in the Evening link, I am not the only one to have had an unpleasant evening at the pub. This brings to mind two things:

  1. Even when the “independence” of the individual pubs is taken into account, I find it stunning that such a major company does not maintain a website. Without a “shop window” providing information on drinks and venues, not to mention the rich heritage of the brewery, the company leaves themselves open to misrepresentation by third parties.
  2. What measures of staff evaluation take place? Staff are a vital component to a pleasant experience. If employees were segmented into three categories – those that love their job, those that like their job but have no great loyalty to the firm or industry, and those that are in it purely to pay the bills – I don’t think it would be unfair to say that pubs contain more employees within the third segment than an organisation such as Greenpeace. Because of this, there needs to be greater emphasis on ensuring the staff don’t dislike their job. Training should be full, hours should be reasonable and conditions should be exemplary. Unmotivated, unsatisfied – or just plain rude – staff will pass on their negativity to patrons.

I could not find any evidence of customer satisfaction surveys nor mystery shopping online. I would be interested to know whether such methods are used to assess performance.

Does it matter? The brewery remains very successful, and there are many pluses in the organisation’s favour – extremely cheap prices, a good selection of drinks, a relatively environmentally friendly policy, strong locations and (generally) a good atmosphere.

And will this experience put me off going? Probably not. The pros outweigh the cons for me. But my advocacy of Sam Smith’s has been tempered. It is a shame that they only appear to “make do”, rather than provide the best experience possible. Friendlier employees and a website facilitating direct communication are two small steps that can go a long way to achieving this.

sk